Ethics breaches in 2018 by RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes are alleged by an anonymous whistleblower. They involve a consulting contract in Orange County, North Carolina, undertaken while Haynes worked full time at RIOC.
By David Stone
The Roosevelt Island Daily verified all key points in the whistleblower’s statement to us. Accusations of wrongdoing by Haynes must be reviewed by the proper authorities before any action is taken or not taken. To our knowledge, Shelton Haynes is not and never has been subject of any official investigation for criminal or civil violations.
The Alleged Ethics Breaches
In July, 2018, Haynes signed off on a contract with the Orange County Department of Housing and Community Development. It paid him $6,387.84 for roughly 30 days work as an expert consultant in their failing Housing Choice Voucher Program.
The Contract Requirements*
Place of Performance
Shelton Haynes will work onsite at the Department of Housing and Community Development, HCV Program central office two days, and work remotely for the remaining of the project, which equates to two ( 2) working days and eight to twenty hours a week. In addition, Shelton Haynes will meet with the Orange County Finance Department while onsite at the Orange County Housing Authority.
As part of the HCVP Project, Shelton Haynes will be responsible for performing tasks throughout various stages of this project, The following is a list of these functions, which will result in the successful completion of this project:
- Consultant will review all financial budgets related to the HCV Program
- Consultant will assess the financial deficit gaps within the HCV Program monthly budgets
- Consultant will define the department working accessible capital
- Consultant will determine the department fiscal sustainability, solvency financial and any financial associated items of the OCHA HCV Program
Assessment Review Phase:
Consultant will prepare a detail recommendation analysis of the findings from the observation phase
Consultant will provide Department of Housing and Community Development, HCV Program with all documentation by the approved project plan
*Source Document-Orange County, North Carolina
Nowhere on the records that we found are Haynes’s qualifications for the consulting gig. As part of his prior work experience, Haynes claims employment as the Chief Operations Officer at the DeKalb County (Georgia) Housing Authority. Although we have been unable to verify that job or that the title even exists at that authority, their own voucher program got into trouble with the federal government over mismanaged funds during the period in which Haynes said he worked there.
Multiple Potential Ethics Breaches
The most obvious possible ethics breach involves Haynes’s employment at RIOC. During the same period, RIOC paid him a six-figure annual salary as its operations head. The Daily reached out to RIOC General Counsel Gretchen Robinson, Human Resources Director Tajuna Sharpe and Haynes himself for attendance records showing any time off taken while working out of state.
State employees sometimes use accumulated vacation time, for example, for non-state related activities. But Haynes was absent from a critical board meeting in July, and the whistleblower alleges it was because he was in North Carolina.
That brings up the more serious question of potential ethics breaches of New York State requirements for taking on outside employment.
NYS Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion 94-12
Public Officers Law §74 precludes the employee from engaging in consultant work to provide services related to the maximization of federal revenue to states other than New York.New York Ethics Commission
In this instance, state law required Haynes requesting permission before taking the job in North Carolina. We asked Robinson, Sharpe and Haynes, via email, for any records showing his making such a request and/or receiving permission from JCOPE. None replied immediately nor requested time for looking up records.
Conclusion on Ethics Breaches
Because RIOC did not respond to our inquiry yesterday, any conclusions are speculative and short on facts. Yet another Freedom of Information request will be necessary, and RIOC will, of course, stall for as long as possible. But as we’ve concluded in the past, government officials with nothing to hide don’t hide anything.
And Governor Kathy Hochul’s public statements about transparency and accountability notwithstanding, New York retains Governor Andrew Cuomo’s standards, especially at RIOC. Secrecy is the name of the game, and local residents paying most of the bills, including Haynes’s $216K salary, are denied the right to know most Americans take for granted.
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