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The state's former budget administrator said he didn't have sex with or sexually harass any employees, rarely had drinks with co-workers other than a manager with whom he played golf, and wasn't aware of accusations against him in his personnel file.

Allegations involving excessive alcohol use and sexual indiscretions inside and outside the office "are unsubstantiated and categorically false," Brandon Sharp said in a written statement issued after the state Department of Finance and Administration released his personnel file late Thursday afternoon.

"I understand the political nature of the position in which I served and have thus far refused to engage in the public spectacle regarding the intent of my firing," Sharp wrote. "However, both my personal and professional reputation stand to suffer greatly from these defamatory statements and have caused immeasurable devastation to me and my entire family. I am in the process of retaining legal counsel to represent me in this matter and cannot comment further at this time."

Sharp, state budget administrator since July 2011, earned $101,077 per year, according to the state's transparency website. Sharp replaced longtime budget administrator Mike Stormes, who had served in the job since 1989.

He is the son of Sheila Sharp, director of the state Department of Community Correction.

Sharp's personnel file included letters from four employees regarding his dealings with female workers, including three letters dated May 15, three days before he was terminated by finance department Director Larry Walther.

One employee, whose name was redacted, wrote in an undated letter that Sharp came to where she was sitting in the office one afternoon and started rubbing her shoulders, telling her "if you tell anyone about this, I will fire you."

The employee said the other incident where she felt sexually harassed by Sharp occurred May 13 when she and her co-workers had gone to a bar; Sharp and a manager showed up and started drinking, too, and Sharp "placed his hand on my knee while talking and then removed it," she wrote.

The employee said that "if the decision is made not to terminate Mr. Sharp, then I request I be transferred to another position as I could not work under Mr. Sharp for fear of him making my life difficult to the point of where I would just quit."

Another employee wrote that she saw Sharp attempt to kiss a co-worker at a bar May 13.

A third employee said Sharp "had recently become drunk at a social gathering" of budget office employees and talked about co-workers sleeping with each other.

Sharp already had been admonished at least once by a concerned supervisor.

Former finance department Director Richard Weiss had warned Sharp that he already had "three strikes and there are no more [left]," in a letter dated June 9 that refers to an "incident report from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism."

Sharp said in his own letter that was referring to a boating under the influence charge that "has yet to be adjudicated one year later through no fault of my own, though I am confident that my case is strong and I will be exonerated through due process."

Sharp was arrested June 1 and charged with boating while intoxicated, according to court records. He pleaded innocent June 12.

According to court records, Sharp has two prior convictions. In June 1997, he was found guilty of driving while intoxicated in Little Rock. In October 1999, Sharp was found guilty of a North Little Rock DWI that occurred in March of that year.

Asked Friday to elaborate, Weiss said his June 9 letter speaks for itself. He declined further comment.

Sharp said that he met with Walther and finance department Deputy Director Tim Leathers on May 18 but was given no reason for the dismissal "other than a verbal, non-specific reference to an employee complaint and reference to a previous letter that was placed in my personnel file one year prior.

"In neither event was I given an opportunity to refute the allegations against me," Sharp wrote.

He served as an at-will employee, so he didn't request additional information at the time of his termination, he said.

During his time at the finance department, Sharp said he "did not have sex or sexually harass any DFA employees and I am unaware of any direct evidence that has been presented to the contrary.

"Other than with a male manager whom I occasionally played golf with, I only had drinks with staff on a few occasions in four years, always in the presence of multiple staff members, and generally with their spouses," he said.

The finance department has a program for employees who suffer from alcohol and substance abuse and "in 11 years with the Department I was never directed to enroll in the program," Sharp said.

"Additionally other than the previously mentioned BUI [Boating Under the Influence], I have not had as much as a speeding ticket since college more than fifteen years ago," said Sharp, who is 41. "I learned from those lessons and turned my life into something I was truly proud of. I have not done anything illegal, or violated any Departmental policy."

He said he received "exceeds standards" on performance reviews consistently for 11 years and stands by his work record.

Leathers on Friday declined to comment about Sharp's written statement.

Metro on 05/30/2015

Print Headline: Sharp rebuts workers' claims

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