JMAA violated state law by withholding airport commissioner addresses from WLBT, ethics commission finds

Records battle began during WLBT investigations into former commissioner who claimed to live in Jackson to get the job
Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 6:56 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi Ethics Commission finds that Jackson’s airport authority board violated state law when it failed to disclose addresses of its commissioners to WLBT.

The final order, issued in late June, said withholding addresses of Jackson Municipal Airport Authority commissioners violated the Mississippi Public Records Act because those home addresses are necessary to establish a commissioner’s qualification for office.

Following the Ethics Commission’s decision, JMAA released the unredacted records to WLBT, which confirmed Commissioner Robert Martin used a P.O. Box in Jackson for checks, but listed a Brandon address when he stayed at a Sheraton hotel in Dubai.

Property records listed that same Brandon address under his wife’s name.

The addresses were part of travel records 3 On Your Side initially requested from all JMAA commissioners in December 2021, which prompted an investigation into Martin’s travel habits.

WLBT’s initial investigation found Martin claimed to drive instead of fly to various conferences on behalf of JMAA - like round trips to Las Vegas and Reno from his Wyndallwood Court address in Jackson.

He also used the address on letterheads sent to JMAA and on his resume when he went before the Jackson City Council for a confirmation hearing.

The driving - which Martin said he did because of medical reasons - entitled him to thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursement.

A subsequent investigation found Martin did not live at the Wyndallwood Court home, and never did, according to the home’s resident.

WLBT also learned Martin had gotten approved for a pilot’s license based on medical information from the same period of time he told the JMAA board he could not fly commercially.

At the time, 3 On Your Side was unable to confirm where Martin actually lived through the requested travel records because JMAA redacted addresses for every commissioner.

Weeks after our investigation into his residency aired and we submitted what we found to Jackson’s city attorney, Martin resigned from JMAA.

The Ethics Commission’s final order did not penalize JMAA for failing to provide records, however.

Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Hood said the agency’s “exercise of caution in redacting home addresses was justifiable, although ultimately improper, and should not subject anyone to penalties.”

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