Franklin County District 2 Commissioner Charles Webster of Farmington. Sun Journal file photo

FARMINGTON — The Franklin County register of probate accused a commissioner of violating the county’s personnel policy during the commission’s regular meeting Tuesday.

According to Register Joyce Morton’s memo to commissioners on Sept. 24, Commissioner Charles Webster of Farmington took a part-time employee out of the probate office and into the corridor of the county courthouse to discuss her interest in “running for my position as Register of Probate.”

“(Webster) also inquired as to her plans for registering in a political party,” Morton wrote. “Previously he told her in my presence, and while she was working in the county clerk’s office, that he was recruiting two Republican candidates to run for my position.”

Both Morton and Webster are registered Republicans. They are elected and their terms expire Dec. 31, 2020.

“These actions are improper employer/employee conduct and are extremely disruptive to the business of running the probate,” Morton wrote. “These actions also violate the county personnel policy prohibiting political activities in the workplace,” Morton wrote. “Commissioner Webster must stop these activities now and from this point forward.”

In part, the policy states, “County employees shall conform to all state and federal laws. Political activities are not permitted during work hours. Employees may not: A. Use official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election or nomination for office.”

“It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that your husband is running for commissioner and I wouldn’t support him,” Webster responded.

Morton’s husband is former Probate Judge Richard Morton of Farmington. He retired last year after 35 years on the bench.

Franklin County Register of Probate Joyce Morton of Farmington. Sun Journal file photo

Joyce Morton, who appeared surprised at Webster’s response, said it has to do with her part-time employee and what happened.

Webster said if Morton’s husband wants to run for county commissioner, “I will work against him.”

Webster said he did not know about this “regulation,” referring to the section of the policy. He told Morton that he would have thought she would have brought the violation to his attention.

Commissioner Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton said he didn’t know about the “regulation” either.

Joyce Morton recently celebrated 50 years working for the Probate Office. In that time, she has served as register of probate for 36 years.

Webster was appointed by former Gov. Paul LePage to represent District 2, which serves Farmington, Chesterville and New Sharon, in August 2015 for the remainder of the term of the late Commissioner Fred Hardy of New Sharon. Hardy died in July 2015 after 22 years as commissioner.

Webster was elected to a serve a four-year term as commissioner in November 2016.

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