Ethics laws

In tonight’s meeting, the Council will introduce an ordinance enacting a new ethics code to comply with State mandated requirements. The State Ethics Commission has recently reviewed the City’s ordinance.

The City’s ethics rules allow City employees or elected officials to receive gifts of tickets or free admission to attend a charitable, cultural or political event, and gifts of tickets or free admission to attend intercollegiate sporting events extended by the sponsor of the event to an elected City official or employee, when the sponsor is another governmental agency or unit of the state of Maryland, including the University of Maryland; and the City official or employee is attending with consent from the City Council as part of an effort to maintain governmental relations.

While the Ethics Commission is okay with this provision, they directed that the City remove professional sports tickets from this exempt category. The remaining amendments include clarifications of the definition of a business interest, that a financial disclosure statement must be corrected if there are errors or omissions, and the reporting period and necessity of filing a financial disclosure statement by appointed officials.

The Ordinance also makes some timing changes to the reporting requirements around City election. The Ethics Commission is required to review candidate financial disclosure forms and respond within three days if the form is incomplete. Also, the change would authorize the Clerk is authorize to receive documents for the Ethics Commission, much as she is for the Board of Supervisors of Elections.