A Ballard conflict of interest?
A controversial landfill project in Pasco has raised questions about whether lobbyist Brian Ballard, representing the landfill operator, could have extra juice because his brother, Bob Ballard, is a deputy secretary at DEP:
Questioned over the relationship, the agency told the Times that Bob Ballard, who oversees land and recreation, would recuse himself from having any role.
His post does not rule on solid waste or environmental permits, though he did attend a Nov. 20 meeting about the landfill because of questions over nearby state conservation land. Critics such as County Commissioner Ted Schrader and resident Carl Roth seized on the relationship as a potential conflict last week.
The agency declined to make the deputy secretary available, but press secretary Doug Tobin said Bob Ballard had no inkling of his brother's involvement until reading the Times last week. For their part, landfill opponents Martinez and Thomas said they have seen nothing to indicate Bob Ballard has played any role.
"Any notion that there's any improper involvement is not only unfounded — it's absurd," said attorney Chris Kise, a friend of Brian Ballard — and lobbyist for Bill Blanchard, the landfill critic.