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Bennett Defends Augusta Trip

Mayor Michael Bennett says he has no personal connection with Ripken Baseball despite the ethics commission review.

In an interview with Patch, said he disagrees with the language of the Ethics Commission’s review of a complaint submitted by Aberdeen mayoral candidate  

t, stating that Bennett traveled to Augusta, GA, on Oct. 3 to lobby for the Ripken Baseball group for personal gain. The Ethics Commission found Bennett in violation by not providing “adequate disclosure to the public” and using “the prestige of [his] office for private gain,” according to the review.

Bennett said he is dismayed that this was “an open and shut case.”  He said that he was not speaking on behalf of the city or the  but he was only speaking about how the city’s relationship with Ripken Baseball works.

The Ripken Baseball group paid for Bennett's travel expenses to speak to Augusta leaders at an event about building a new stadium for the city's minor league baseball team, the GreenJackets.

“Mayors all over the United States are cheerleaders for their local businesses. They go everywhere. That’s part of the job,” Bennett said.

McGrady expressed concern about the cost of the construction of Ripken Stadium in a press release Wednesday and said "that Aberdeen taxpayers lose hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, and we need to get out from under that debt.”

When asked whether he knowingly broke the code of ethics, Bennett said “absolutely not.” He said he is glad he traveled to Augusta.

Bennett and McGrady are both running for mayor in Aberdeen. The municipal election is on Nov. 8. Voters can cast their ballots at the from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Nick Borns November 04, 2011 at 03:11 PM
I have watched the Ripken Stadium project over its entire 10 year period. Other than glorifying the name of Cal Ripken Jr., the benefits to the City and people of Aberdeen seem abstract at best. Why does the City still owe $6.7 M and to whom? What is the return to the City for their part of the stadium? Why are local food vendors not allowed to run the food concessions? All the food concessions are run by a large concern out of Chicago. All the local food vendors were thrown out in the first year. I tried to bring a unique product to the stadium, german roasted almonds, for over two years with no success. There has now been for several years another vendor with the same product, but from Pennsylvania. If Mr. Bennett is concerned for Aberdeen business, then why can't we get a share of the business activity in the stadium?
vietnam vet November 04, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Nick I agree and investigation, should be done see why local's can't set up at the stadium.
Tony November 05, 2011 at 05:48 PM
Funny how the non-transparent Wilson administration brought this one on and we're still dealing with it, what a legacy. That stadium is a money maker for the tenant and a cash consumer for the town. We all know it and the previous, current, and next administrations are going to have to deal with it. It would serve the town better if a leader with some rocks confronted Cal Inc. and told them how it is going to be during the off season and get some use out of the property that benefits the town.

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