Joplin Councilman Resigns, Agreement Reached With City Over Conflict Allegations
A Joplin City Council member who was mayor when the 2011 tornado struck has resigned amid conflict of interest allegations.
Mike Woolston had faced a censure hearing Monday afternoon regarding alleged ethical violations that he used his position and inside knowledge of city redevelopment plans to broker property following the tornado. Hours before the hearing, both Councilman Woolston and City Council issued a joint statement indicating their agreement “to resolve all of these issues without further proceedings or expense to either side.”
The allegations emerged in a council investigation report last year, and were also a part of a state audit of the city that was made public last month.
“Mr. Woolston has agreed to resign from the City Council in order to minimize any further turmoil to the Joplin community,” the statement read.
“The parties have determined that Mr. Woolston did not benefit financially on any real estate transactions between the City or the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation and Four State Homes or other sellers, and that Mr. Woolston was not involved in the purchase of properties by the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation. The parties have further determined that Mr. Woolston did not use inappropriately any non-public information or the prestige of his office to benefit himself or any of his business associates or affiliates. Mr. Woolston was not and is not involved with the Wallace Bajjali development firm. Mr. Woolston was not and is not involved as an officer or an owner with the Hope Valley or South Main TIF projects.”
Woolston has consistently denied the existence of any illegal conflicts of interest. He’s also maintained that all appropriate disclosures and actions were made to address situations that might give the appearance of a conflict.
“The parties have agreed that Mr. Woolston could have done more to make transparent his relationships with these other business entities and endeavors and that this added transparency might have helped avoid an appearance of conflicts of interest. Mr. Woolston regrets that these appearances have persisted and apologizes for the perceived lack of transparency.”
Woolston’s resignation is effective immediately.