Last month, a company offered to outfit every St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer with a camera for one year for free. Now, News 4 has learned one elected official is getting paid by that same company.
Sarah Wood Martin is the Alderwoman for the 11th Ward, elected earlier this year.
According to documents News 4 obtained, just last week, she filed forms to be a lobbyist on behalf of the company Axon.
Axon has offered to give the city free body cameras for police. Whether or not they will is still in the air. City leaders also intend to look toward a long a long-term solution. Axon would be a potential vendor on a long-term contract.
Martin is a lobbyist by trade.
She told News 4 over the phone that she doesn't lobby city government and would recuse herself at City Hall on any vote regarding Axon. She denied that her role as a lobbyist was a conflict of interest.
"Everyone comes to an elected office with some type of conflict, whether it's a retirement plan, their spouse's job. I am not unlike any of those people. There are measures in place and I have been upfront about that. I have done everything I can to comply with the law," said Martin.
We did talk with a legal ethics lawyer. He told us even if what she's doing is legal, it's ethically questionable.
“What government ethics really get into is, how does it look and how does it smell? And where there is a possibility someone is making money, there's a bad smell that maybe a sign something shouldn't be going on,” said lawyer Michael Downey.
News 4 spoke with President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed who brought the camera offer forward. He says there's no conflict for Martin to lobby for Axon because the contract would not come before the full Board of Aldermen.
Still, Downey told us that even an appearance of conflict of interest can be a concern.
Any short-term or long-term contract with Axon is still up in the air.
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