Truck driver and frequent WJLD radio guest Jim King says he has filed an ethics complaint against Birmingham City Council President Roderick Royal relating to votes on a line of credit for Birmingham from Regions Financial. Royal works for Regions.
In 2010, the Birmingham City Council voted to allow the Mayor to pursue a $15 million line of credit for the City of Birmingham. Before the vote, Regions was one of the banks discussed as potentially being used to secure that line of credit. Regions did eventually provide credit to Birmingham.
“The information was just sent over to the bank — the banks — last week,” Mayor William Bell told the Council just before the vote in 2010. “Specific information was sent to Regions on Friday,” Bell said, referring to information about the city’s pursuit of a line of credit.
Shortly after that, Councilor Valerie Abbott asked Mayor Bell which banks were sent information about the credit line. “All,” Bell replied. “All banks in Birmingham?” Abbott asked. “Yes,” Bell responded.
Regions Financial is headquartered in Birmingham. Royal currently works for Regions, and according to his filings with the state Ethics Commission, he has worked there since at least 2008.
Every councilor, including Royal, voted to approve the city’s pursuit of credit with Regions and other Birmingham banks. Notably, the item did not require the council to approve the Mayor’s selection of a creditor.
Jim King told Weld that he thinks Royal should have abstained from that vote due to a potential conflict of interest with his employer.
“He knew better than this, but he did it anyway,” King said. “Royal is stubborn.”
King says he lives in Royal’s council district, and mailed the ethics complaint to the Alabama Ethics Commission in Montgomery this week. He says, regrettably, that he did not keep a copy of the complaint for himself.
Ethics complaints are treated as confidential by the Ethics Commission. The Alabama Ethics Commission would not confirm whether a complaint had been filed, or comment on specific cases, but Hugh Evans, an attorney for the Commission, did offer some brief non-specific comment:
“Anytime you have a public official who uses his or public office to benefit his employer, it’s problematic,” Evans said.
King says that he warned Royal of a potential conflict of interest before a 2011 vote to allow another credit deal with Regions, but Royal voted for that deal anyway. That’s when he decided to file the complaint.
“The guy is arrogant, and just has a disregard for the law,” King said.
Royal’s office declined to make any official comment at this time.