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El Paso County Code of Ethics Training Continue A Journey Down Ethics Highway.

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Presentation on theme: "El Paso County Code of Ethics Training Continue A Journey Down Ethics Highway."— Presentation transcript:

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2 El Paso County Code of Ethics Training Continue A Journey Down Ethics Highway

3 Welcome to the County of El Paso Ethics Commission training! This program is intended to give you a general overview of the code of ethics governing your conduct as a County Public Servant. As you proceed with this training, you should bear in mind that ethical conduct involves more than merely following this code. As a public servant, the public’s image of the County is based on your conduct. Thus, the County is dependent upon you to conduct yourself in a fair and honest manner. You should avoid creating even the appearance of impropriety. For further guidance, please contact the County Human Resources Department or County Attorney’s Office. Continue Code of Ethics Click the banner above to see the Code.

4 This training takes about 1 hour to complete. After you finish, you can print a training verification form to submit to Human Resources to document your participation. If you quit at anytime without completing the training, your progress will NOT be saved for future access. Continue Back

5 Subject Areas The following topics will be covered in this training: ▫Enabling Legislation ▫Who the Code applies to ▫Some Important Definitions ▫Types of Violations ▫Lobbyists ▫Conflicts of Interest in:  Procurement  Employment  Outside Employment ▫Post Employment Restrictions Continue Back

6 Subject Areas Topics Covered Continued: ▫Gifts and/or Benefits ▫Statements of Financial Interest ▫Political Activity ▫Campaign Contributions ▫Reporting Violations & Complaint Filing Procedures Continue Back

7 Local Government Code The Ethics Commission & this training requirement was approved by the State Legislature and El Paso County Commissioners Court in Local Govt. Code Chapter 161 Click on box to see statute. Back Continue

8 Who is Subject to the Code? The following individuals are subject to the County of El Paso Code of Ethics: Under § (5) - All employees of the county judge, county commissioners, county attorney, sheriff, county tax assessor-collector, county clerk, district clerk, county treasurer, county auditor, county purchasing agent, and constables. Additionally, all non-elected department heads and their employees are also subject to the El Paso County Code of Ethics. Under § (C) - The review officer serving as a Standing Preliminary Review Committee member pursuant to Section (e) of the Texas Local Government Code; Under § (D) - A candidate for nomination or election to an elected county office; Under § (E) - A person performing a governmental function under a claim of right although the person is not legally qualified or authorized to do so. Back Continue

9 Who is Subject to the Code? Under § (8) (B) - A person appointed by Commissioner’s Court or a County Officer to a position on the following, whether the position is compensated or not, are subject to the Code: ▫El Paso County Hospital District Board ▫El Paso County Civil Service Commission ▫Emergency Service District 1 ▫Emergency Service District 2 ▫El Paso County Housing Finance Corporation ▫El Paso County Risk Pool Board ▫Sheriff’s Dept. Civil Service Commission ▫El Paso Mission Trail Zoning and Planning Commission ▫El Paso County Housing Authority Board ▫El Paso County Ethics Commission ▫El Paso County Revolving Loan Board Back Continue

10 Who is Subject to the Code? Additionally, only those persons appointed by El Paso County to the following multi-jurisdictional boards are also subject to the Code. Persons appointed by other entities are not subject to the Code: ▫Central Appraisal District ▫E911 Enhanced Communication Board ▫El Paso Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board of Trustees ▫Purchasing Board ▫Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Number 5 (TIRZ) Back Continue

11 Question 1 - Test What You Learned Are full and part-time employees subject to the Code? Yes No

12 CORRECT! All employees, full or part- time, are subject to the Code: Under § (5) - All employees of the county judge, county commissioners, county attorney, sheriff, county tax assessor-collector, county clerk, district clerk, district attorney, county auditor, county purchasing agent, and constables. Additionally, all non-elected department heads and their employees are also subject to the El Paso County Code of Ethics. continue

13 Let’s Try Again! All employees are subject to the Code. Under § (5) - All employees of the county judge, county commissioners, county attorney, sheriff, county tax assessor-collector, county clerk, district clerk, county treasurer, county auditor, county purchasing agent, and constables. Additionally, all non-elected department heads and their employees are also subject to the El Paso County Code of Ethics. continue

14 Question 2 - Test What You Learned Are members of the public subject to the Code? Yes No

15 Incorrect The Code is only applicable to County Public Servants. However, it does require vendors and lobbyists to attend training, but the general public are not governed by our ethics code. continue

16 Way to Go! The Code is only applicable to County Public Servants. However, it does require vendors and lobbyists to attend training, but the general public are not governed by our ethics code. continue

17 Important Definitions Throughout the Code & this training there are some key definitions ▫Family members include: FIRST DEGREE SECOND DEGREE Person’s spouse Mother & spouse Father & spouse Daughter & spouse Son & spouse Mother-in-law Father-in-law Stepdaughter Stepson Granddaughter & spouse Grandson & spouse Grandmother & spouse Grandfather & spouse Sister & spouse Brother & spouse Continue Back

18 Important Definitions ▫Substantial financial interest means:  A person has a substantial financial interest in a business entity if:  the person owns ten percent (10%) or more of the voting stock or shares of the business entity; owns either ten percent (10%) or more or $15,000 or more of the fair market value of the business entity; or  funds received by the person from the business entity exceed ten percent (10%) of the person ' s gross income for the previous year.  A person has a substantial financial interest in real property if the interest is an equitable or legal ownership with a fair market value of $2,500 or more.  A local public official is considered to have a substantial financial interest under this section if a person related to the official pursuant to the definition of “family member”, has a substantial financial interest. Continue Back

19 Important Definitions ▫Lobbyist means a person who, receives, or is entitled to receive under an agreement under which the person is retained or employed, compensation or reimbursement, not including reimbursement for the person’s own travel, food, or lodging expenses or the person’s own membership dues, of an amount not less than $200 in a calendar quarter from another person or entity to communicate directly with a county public official. A lobbyist also includes a person who, as part of his regular employment, communicates directly with county public servants to influence decisions or actions by the county public servants on behalf of the person or entity by whom he is compensated or reimbursed, whether or not the person receives any compensation for the communication in addition to the salary for that regular employment. The term Lobbyist does not include: ▫an attorney who communicates directly with a county public servant to the extent that such communication relates to the attorney's representation of a party in a civil or criminal proceeding; ▫A governmental entity or its officers or employees engaged in discussing matters relating to its own governmental interest; or ▫A person who lobbies as an unpaid volunteer or represents only himself. Continue Back

20 Important Definitions ▫Vendor means any person or their representative or employee whose goods and services are purchased under the terms of a purchase order or contractual agreement with the county; and any other persons doing business with the county. Continue Back

21 Question 3 - Test What You Have Learned Is your Aunt considered immediate family under the Code? Yes No

22 Incorrect! Aunts, uncles, & cousins are not considered immediate family under the Code’s definition of immediate family. Continue

23 Correct! Aunts, uncles, & cousins are not considered immediate family under the Code’s definition of immediate family. Continue

24 Types of Violations There are two basic types of violations under the Code: ▫Category One violations are those violations that are not difficult to ascertain whether a violation has occurred or not.  Examples of Category One violations include:  Failing to file a required statement or report;  Failing to file a required statement or report in a timely manner;  A misrepresentation in a required report; and  Failure to respond to a notice as required under the Code. Continue Back

25 Types of Violations ▫Category Two violations are those violations that are not considered Category One violations.  Examples of Category Two violations may include:  Recommending a purchase be made from a business the employee has a substantial financial interest in;  Advocating that your sister be hired for a position with the County;  Accepting a prohibited gift;  Utilizing a county printer for political flyers; Continue Back

26 Lobbyists County Officers & Department Heads shall verify that the a Lobbyist is registered and has attended training on the Ethics Code by asking to see a current County lobbyist registration card before he or she permits any Lobbyists, including representatives or employees of Lobbyists, to communicate with him or her regarding any official matter. Continue Back

27 Lobbyists Each County Official & Department Head must maintain a daily log of contacts made with any Lobbyist. Logs have to be submitted two times a year, plus anytime the Ethics Commission requests them. Additionally, signs regarding the registration requirement for any person lobbying a County Official or Department Head must be posted in the lobby of each office of the County Official or Department Head. Continue Back

28 Procurement Conflicts Before considering a Vendor’s procurement submission such as a bid, contract, or proposal, County Public Servants must verify that the Vendor has completed its training requirement under the Code. Continue Back

29 Procurement Conflicts All County Public Servants must inform themselves about their financial interests and must make a reasonable effort to inform themselves about the financial interests of their family members as defined earlier. Importantly, County Public Servants must excuse themselves from exercising influence, participating in, discussing, recommending, and/or granting of any County purchase, bid, contract, or participating in any official act on a matter if they or a family member have a substantial financial interest. Continue Back

30 Procurement Conflicts County Public Servants must not acquire a financial interest at a time when they believe or have reason to believe that it will be directly affected by their official act. They cannot profit by any knowledge they gained solely from their official position with the County, which information is not available to the public. Any County Public Servant with a conflict in a procurement matter must complete an affidavit stating the nature and extent of the financial interest and place it on the Commissioners Court Agenda before the matter is discussed or before any decision regarding it is made. ContinueBack

31 Procurement Conflicts Once a bid, RFP, or RFQ is either authorized or released, no one should permit any vendor, its lobbyists, representative, or employee to communicate with him or her privately regarding procurement of items by the County until the procurement process is complete. Not knowing that the bid, RFP, or RFQ has been authorized or released or what the vendor or their representative wants to discuss privately is not a defense to this requirement. ContinueBack

32 Question 4 – Test What You Learned Mr. Kermit A. Crime calls and makes an appointment to speak with Commissioner I.M. Honest. The day of the appointment, Mr. Crime comes in and tells Commissioner Honest that he is a lobbyist. Commissioner Honest immediately makes him sign in on the lobbyist log. Mr. Crime says he knows there is an RFP for ammunition out for the Sheriff’s Department and he would like to tell Commissioner Honest why he should recommend ACME Ammo for the purchase. Commissioner Honest listens to his reasons, but ends up recommending a different vendor for the RFP. Did Commissioner Honest violate the Code? YesNo

33 Green Light…Go! You Are Right! Commissioner Honest did violate the Code. The commissioner met with a lobbyist without verifying he was trained or registered. Additionally, under the Code, it is a violation to meet with anyone representing a Vendor once an RFP has been authorized. Continue

34 Whoa! That is incorrect. Commissioner Honest did violate the Code. First, the commissioner met with a lobbyist without verifying he was trained or registered. Additionally, under the Code, it is a violation to meet with anyone representing a Vendor once an RFP has been authorized. Continue

35 Question 5 -Test What You Learned County Auditor Fonz E. Ponzi is in Executive Session for Commissioners Court on a weekly basis. The Court has been discussing its plan to invest $5 Million in a new Administrative building on a piece of property that is up for sale in Executive Session for the past several weeks. The County has discussed that it would be willing to purchase the property for $1 Million. Mr. Ponzi is in a real estate business partnership with his father in law also and they know the seller of the property. There company makes a deal to buy the property for $500,000 first and then resells it to the County for $1 Million. Did Mr. Ponzi violate the Code? YesNo

36 You Are a Pro! He did violate the Code. County Public Servants cannot profit by any knowledge they gained solely from their official position with the County, which information is not available to the public. Mr. Ponzi gained this information solely from being in Executive Session in his official position and is turning a personal profit on the transaction. Continue

37 Be Careful! That is incorrect; Mr. Ponzi did violate the Code. County Public Servants cannot profit by any knowledge they gained solely from their official position with the County, which information is not available to the public. Mr. Ponzi gained this information solely from being in Executive Session in his official position and is turning a personal profit on the transaction. Continue

38 Conflicts in Employment There are 3 main areas to be aware of concerning ethical employment related practices: 1.Hiring & Supervising 2.Outside employment 3.Post employment Continue Back

39 Hiring & Supervising Hiring decisions shall not be made on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, or disability. County elected officials and department heads shall not advocate the employment, appointment, promotion, transfer, or advancement to a paid County position of a family member. Neither shall they supervise or manage a family member, unless the employee was employed prior to the election or appointment of the department head. Non-elected Department Heads are prohibited from knowingly hiring any person who has served as an elected official in the previous year. ContinueBack

40 Outside Employment County public servants are prohibited from engaging in outside employment or activities that are incompatible with the full and proper discharge of their duties and responsibilities with the County, or which might impair their independent judgment in the performance of their public duty. Continue Back

41 Post Employment Restrictions Elected Officials and Department Heads are prohibited from knowingly conducting County business with a former elected official or department head that was separated from office or employment in the previous two years in which the former official is compensated as a representative of another regarding business in which the former elected official or department head was either personally involved or that was within the official's responsibility while an elected official or department head. Continue Back

42 Question 6 – Test What You Learned Lucy Brown has worked in the District Clerk’s Office for 12 years as an Office Manager. Her brother, Charlie, runs for and gets elected as District Clerk. Charlie is now Lucy’s supervisor. Lucy asks him if she has to resign. What should he tell her? Yes, it is a violation of the Code of Ethics. No, it is NOT a violation of the Code of Ethics

43 Let’s rethink this one! County elected officials and department heads shall not advocate the employment, appointment, promotion, transfer, or advancement to a paid County position of a family member. Neither shall they supervise or manage a family member, unless the employee was employed prior to the election or appointment of the department head. Lucy was there prior to Charlie getting elected, so this is not a violation of the Code. Continue

44 You are a fast learner! Lucy was there prior to Charlie getting elected, so this is not a violation of the Code. County elected officials and department heads shall not advocate the employment, appointment, promotion, transfer, or advancement to a paid County position of a family member. Neither shall they supervise or manage a family member, unless the employee was employed prior to the election or appointment of the department head. Continue

45 Question 7 – Test What You Learned Ivanna Fly was the Communications Director for the County up until last month. She was hired by ABC Airlines as their public marketing manager for business travel. The County is considering going out for RFP for one airline to provide service for all out of town travel for County employees. Can Commissioners Court engage in a conversation with Ms. Fly about ABC Airlines business travel program to get more information? Yes, it is on a topic not related to what she did when she worked at the County. No, she has not been gone for 2 years so it is a violation of the Code of Ethics

46 Correct! Ms. Fly was neither personally involved nor was travel within her responsibility while an elected official or department head so Commissioners Court could discuss this idea with her as a representative of ABC Airlines without violating the Code. Continue

47 Oops! Try again! Ms. Fly was neither personally involved nor was travel within her responsibility while an elected official or department head so Commissioners Court could discuss this idea with her as a representative of ABC Airlines without violating the Code. Continue

48 Gifts & Benefits ▫A County public servant, his family members, or any business organization in which he has a substantial financial interest, may not solicit or accept a prohibited gift or benefit valued at more than Fifty and No/100 Dollars ($50.00). ▫A “prohibited gift or benefit” refers to anything of value. Continue Back

49 Gifts Examples of gifts include ▫Loans ▫Travel ▫Entertainment ▫Meals & beverages ▫Tickets for professional or intercollegiate sporting events or artistic or cultural events There are some exceptions to these items being considered gifts. Continue Back

50 When is a gift not a prohibited gift? The solicitation or acceptance of contributions to a political campaign if such contribution is subject to reporting under state law. A gift that is given on account of kinship or on account of a professional relationship independent of the public duties of the recipient. Commercially reasonable loans made in the ordinary course of the lender's business. Awards, such as plaques, certifications, trophies or similar mementos, publicly presented in recognition of or in conjunction with public service. Gifts do not include items for which the County reimburses or items which are received but are donated to a charitable organization within 30 days. If the gift is a perishable item, such as flowers, fruit, or candy, it may be placed on a public counter and shared with employees and the public. Invitations or tickets to fundraising dinners or public charitable benefit events. ContinueBack

51 Reasonable entertainment, meals or refreshments furnished in connection with local public events, appearances or ceremonies related to official County business, if furnished by the sponsor of such public event, appearances or ceremonies. Registration, transportation, lodging and meal expenses in connection with a conference or similar event in which the County public servant renders services, such as addressing an audience or engaging in a seminar, to the extent that those services are more than merely perfunctory. Any materials received in conjunction with the event shall become property of the County. A gift that was not personal to the County Public Servant and was a gift to the County for a County public purpose that was accepted by the Commissioners Court pursuant to Texas Local Government Code Section When is a gift not a prohibited gift? (Continued) BackContinue

52 Question 8 – Test What You Learned Spiffy Signs Company is bidding on a large contract with the County and offers Commissioner Rich E. Nuff $4,000 worth of free signs to help with his campaign for re-election as a campaign contribution. Commissioner Nuff reports the contribution as required on the state reporting forms. Has the Commissioner violated the Code of Ethics? Yes, the Commissioner has a significant financial interest in Spiffy Signs now. Yes, the donation was over $ No, the donation was a reportable campaign contribution.

53 This one was tricky! Since Spiffy Signs made the donation to Commissioner Nuff’s campaign and Commissioner Nuff reported the donation, it is not a violation of the Code.  A prohibited gift does not include:  The solicitation or acceptance of contributions to a political campaign if such contribution is subject to reporting under state law.solicitation Additionally, it does not meet the definition of a substantial financial interest under the Code. Continue

54 Right on! Since Spiffy Signs made the donation to Commissioner Nuff’s campaign and Commissioner Nuff is required to report the donation under state law, it is not a violation of the Code.  A prohibited gift does not include:  The solicitation or acceptance of contributions to a political campaign if such contribution is subject to reporting under state law.solicitation Continue

55 Question 9 – Test What You Learned Sheriff Fife is offered an all expenses paid trip from Acme Gun & Ammunition to the NRA National Convention. There are no plans for the County to buy guns or ammunition in the near future. Can Sheriff Fife accept this gift? Yes, as there is no conflicts or purchases pending. No, it is a violation of the Code.

56 Don’t Walk This Way! While there may be no plans to make any purchases from Acme Gun & Ammunition in the near future, this is still a prohibited gift. Travel is a prohibited gift unless the public servant renders services at the event such as addressing an audience to the extent that the services are more than merely perfunctory. Continue

57 You Are Clear to Move On! While there may be no plans to make any purchases from Acme Gun & Ammunition in the near future, this is still a prohibited gift. Travel is a prohibited gift unless the public servant renders services at the event such as addressing an audience to the extent that the services are more than merely perfunctory. Continue

58 Political Activity Non-elected county public servants must not engage in political activities during any hours they are paid to actually work for the county. They may take vacation leave or leave without pay for political purposes if approved according to County policy. County public servants must not utilize county equipment or supplies of any kind for political purposes. ContinueBack

59 Political Activity County public servants shall not use or threaten to use their discretionary authority in a manner to: ▫Reward or coerce any person to participate in political activities, an election campaign, or fundraising effort; or ▫Discourage, prevent, or discriminate against any person who chooses to participate in these same political activities. Continue Back

60 Campaign Contributions Members of and candidates for Commissioners Court must report political contributions totaling $2,500 or more, including in kind contributions from any person or entity received within a 12 month period within 30 days of the date of receipt of said cumulative contribution. Continue Back

61 Question 10 – Test What You Learned HR Director Celia Fate wants Andy Wineriss to get elected as a Constable. She tells all of the HR Staff that if they take a day of vacation to campaign for him, she will give them all 2 days of administrative leave with pay after the election. Several people take the day off to campaign, but Ms. Fate never gives them the time off after the election. Did she violate the Code? Yes, she did violate the Code. No, she never actually gave them the reward she had promised.

62 Stop Right There! While Ms. Fate never actually gave the reward she had promised, she did coerce people to participate in an election campaign by using her official authority, which is a violation of the Code. Continue

63 You Know Your Stuff! While Ms. Fate never actually gave the reward she had promised, she did coerce people to participate in an election campaign by using her official authority, which is a violation of the Code. Continue

64 Complaints & Reporting Violations County public servants and all others who are subject to the code have a duty to cooperate in investigations, inquiries, and hearings conducted by the Ethics Commission. Frivolous and bad-faith complaints may result in a civil penalty pursuant to Section of the Texas Local Government Code. Continue Back

65 Complaints & Reporting Violations ContinueBack ▫WHO MAY FILE A COMPLAINT. An individual who is 18 years of age or older may file a sworn complaint. ▫HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT. The complaint must be filed in accordance with the rules of the Commission. The complaint must be filed with the Commission using the form adopted by the Commission which can be obtained on the County of El Paso Ethics Commission web page. ▫WHERE TO FILE A COMPLAINT. The complaint should be submitted to the address listed on the complaint form. ▫DEADLINE TO FILE A COMPLAINT. A complaint must be filed within 180 days of the date the alleged conduct is discovered. The Standing Preliminary Review Committee may waive the 180 day filing deadline for good cause shown. In no event, may a complaint be filed later than 2 years from the date of the alleged conduct.

66 Advisory Opinions Any person covered by the Code may request an advisory opinion regarding the application of the Ethics Code to a specific existing or hypothetical situation. However, the Commission decides which requests it will provide responsive written advisory opinions to. The name of the person requesting the opinion shall be deemed confidential. ContinueBack

67 Training Verification Thank you for traveling down the Ethics Highway with us today! We hope you enjoyed your trip! PRINT To print your training verification & submit it manually, please click on the box below: To your training verification, please click on the box below:


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