Pirie's Cr Kendall Jackson cited by Ombudsman

A councillor has admitted sending information to her Liberal Party campaign adviser about a review into controversial overseas trips taken by Mayor John Rohde.

Cr Kendall Jackson, of Port Pirie Regional Council, was found by Ombudsman Wayne Lines to have committed misconduct by disclosing the information.

Mr Lines recommended the council reprimand Cr Jackson and that, if she is re-elected at the local government elections, she attend a training course about information security.

Cr Jackson, who was unavailable for comment, was Liberal candidate for Frome in 2014 and 2018.

Mr Rohde, who was Labor candidate for Frome between about 2002 and 2010, took two council-funded visits as mayor in 2016 to the Philippines where he met a Filipino woman named Bita.

The Ombudsman said an unsolicited email from a resident of the Philippines had been sent to elected members alleging “improprieties” by the Mayor during his trade mission.

He said then chief executive officer Andrew Johnson had undertaken a review of the Mayor’s spending between 2016 and 2017.

Later, Mr Rohde sent elected members an email from the council’s solicitor who counselled the Mayor against making any public comments because it would invite “unnecessary scrutiny”.

The Ombudsman said that on January 8, Dr Johnson and Mayor Rohde were emailed by an Advertiser reporter and the inquiry suggested the reporter had information about the internal review finding and, possibly, the legal advice.

He said the newspaper had published reports on January 9 and 10.

Cr Jackson, according to the Ombudsman’s investigation, forwarded the email of the internal review findings to her Liberal Party account “so that I could read the email on my computer and not on my phone”.

Meanwhile, Mr Lines said Cr Stephens had said he “would have” forwarded the email to his workplace “so I could read it more clearly than from my iPhone as the matters were pressing at the time to be dealt with”.

The Ombudsman said Cr Jackson had denied leaking any information to the media and said she was “one of the few councillors who didn’t speak with journalists about this case because (she) did not want to be linked to it in any way”.

His investigation found, and Cr Jackson admitted, that Cr Jackson had forwarded the email to her 2018 campaign adviser David Franchitto.

“On the information before me, I am unable to come to a definitive view whether Cr Jackson was the individual responsible for distributing the information to The Advertiser,” he said.

“It appears possible that she was, but I do not formally conclude as such.”