Ethics panel finds blogger Rickey Stokes may have broken the law

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -- The Alabama Ethics Commission has found probable cause exists to believe popular Dothan blogger Rickey Stokes has violated state law. Stokes also confirmed he has been notified of the action by the commission.

Rickey Stokes in this WTVY file photo.

The issue has to do with Stokes job as an employee of the Houston County Emergency Management Agency.

A complaint filed with the Ethics Commission claims he used county resources, mainly his assigned EMA truck, to cover news stories for his website RickeyStokesNews.com. It also alleges another business Stokes owns, A-Advantage Bonding, profited from his county employment.

The commission’s findings do not implicate guilt, only that there is evidence a violation may have occurred.

“I have not violated the Alabama Ethics law. I do not need Emergency Management for either rickeystokesnews.com or A – Advantage Bonding,” Stokes wrote on his website late Wednesday. A former coroner, he points to his lifelong passion for emergency services as his only driving force with EMA.

Ultimately, it will be up to Attorney General Steve Marshall how to proceed with this investigation. His office could not immediately be reached but it routinely does not comment on pending investigations.

Stokes, in his opinionated blogs, is often critical of Marshall, depicting him as a man more interested in stopping old ladies from playing bingo than fighting violent crime.

It’s unlikely that Marshall will personally handle this case but, instead, rely on his staff that could seek a grand jury indictment against Stokes.

This is not the first time Stokes has been in legal disputes. Several years ago, he was charged with falsifying legal documents related to his bonding business. Ultimately, a judge dismissed those charges due to lack of evidence.

In 2014, Stokes handcuffed two men to the Dothan City courtroom doors in protest to what he called the ineptness the municipal court system. He was charged with false imprisonment but, again, not convicted of those charges.

(This story updated at 8:28 p.m. on December 4 to reflect Stokes post on his website was made Wednesday, not Tuesday.)