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Flower Mound investigation implicates Gelbman

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Itamar Gelbman, Place 5, Flower Mound Town Council.
Itamar Gelbman, Place 5, Flower Mound Town Council.

The independent investigation report of the Flower Mound Town Council for possible violations of the Town Charter, ethics ordinance and state open government laws was released to the public on Monday following a unanimous vote by town council.

Investigator Ross Foster’s report cleared Mayor Tom Hayden, Place 2 Councilmember Bryan Webb and Place 3 Councilmember Kevin Bryant of having committed any violation of the Charter, the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) or the Town Ethics Ordinance.

No violations were alleged against Place 4, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dixon during the relevant period.

The report did, however, determine that Place 5, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Itamar Gelbman committed a possible violation of the Ethics Ordinance and recommended prosecution. The penalty provision provides that a violation constitutes a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine.

The allegation is that Gelbman disclosed to resident David Vaught information provided to council in executive session about incentives the town was offering to grant to a gun range and other businesses in violation of the Ethics ordinance.

Generally, Gelbman desired to acquire an equity interest in the business. Mr. Vaught was not receptive to Gelbman being more than an investor. Vaught provided a pro forma business plan for the gun range to Gelbman. These discussions were continuing when Gelbman was elected to the town council.

Relevant to the inquiry, part (3) prohibits a public official from directly or indirectly disclosing or using any information gained solely by reason of his official position for his own personal gain or benefit or for the private interest of others.

Part (14) prohibits a public official from knowingly disclosing information deemed confidential by law. Gelbman obtained non-public information concerning incentives offered to the gun range and to other businesses locating in town solely as a result of his position as a council member.

The incentive packages being offered to other businesses was information deemed confidential by law because the town had not made incentive agreements with any of the listed businesses when the information was allegedly disclosed.

Gelbman maintains that the investigation is being used by council to overturn the May election and that he is innocent and there is no legitimate evidence against him.

The vote during Monday night’s council meeting was only to release the report to the public and waive the attorney-client privilege. Any further action as a result of the investigator’s findings will be addressed at a future time.

During the course of the investigation Place 1 Councilmember Rountree resigned from the council prior to complying with his sworn testimony as requested by the investigator. His resignation meant that council no longer had the jurisdiction or power to investigate him under the Charter. The investigation of Rountree was concluded without being completed.

The independent investigation of the council officially began during its meeting on July 20, 2015. That decision was as a result of Rountree’s original July 10 request for an investigation of Webb and whether his sharing information from an executive session was an ethics violation.

The full 28-page report is available on the town’s website: www.flower-mound.com.

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