Reviewing my Shelter Bay ethics complaint
March 29, 2023
After my decision to run for the Shelter Bay Community board of directors a year ago, I set a goal to read all of the governing documents, including the association’s Rules and Regulations, cover to cover. I studied HOA educational videos and used my own funds to pay for seminars. I listened to attorneys’ lectures on the fiduciary duty of Care, Loyalty and Obedience. I familiarized myself with HOA infrastructure, liability insurance, management and current state statutes for Common Interest Communities, HOAs and Non-profit Corporations. I learned when the “Business Judgment Rule” is applied in decision-making, there is a reduced risk of becoming a defendant(s) in a lawsuit. I went the extra mile to prepare myself for the privilege to serve my community.
Then, on Nov. 28 two Shelter Bay members, one a witness, filed seven Code of Conduct Complaints against me for sitting in a courtroom on Nov. 16. For background, I was a potential witness prepared to provide testimony under penalty of perjury.
The complaint process began with the board president selecting five members for an ad hoc ethics committee. In conclusion, they decided that one complaint had merit and convinced themselves that I supported the plaintiff’s lawsuit against fellow board members. They did not agree to mediation, nor the use of an outside investigator.
“Does not support decisions of the board” was the charge. I was punished for being a potential witness in a judicial proceeding. The idea that participating in a judicial proceeding is unethical conflates the meaning between duty to the law and ethical behavior.
I appealed the ethics committee’s findings to the board of directors. However, to my disbelief, they chose to support the committee’s findings. Five directors were defendants in the plaintiff’s lawsuit and I believed their vote to sanction me was retaliatory and an abuse of their authority. I was not afforded an unbiased independent investigation.
I believe the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act is in place to protect people from this type of misfeasance (it regulates “financial reporting, internal audits and other business practices … .
(S)me provisions apply to all enterprises, including private companies and nonprofit organizations. Additionally, the Act established penalties for noncompliance." – ed.)
I’m not expecting an apology, but this should never happen to anyone else for trying to do the right thing. Unfortunately, I expect another reprimand for expressing my right to free speech.
I am not active on social media and don’t use it as a messaging tool. Writing to the editor of the La Conner Weekly News seemed like the only available way I could express my side of the story.
I was elected to promote transparency, hold each other accountable and demonstrate respect for the rules. I want the community to know that I have their best interests in mind.
This too shall pass.
Dan McCaughan is a 22-year member of Shelter Bay.