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WV ETHICS COMMISSION 210 Brooks Street, Suite 300 Charleston WV 25301 304-558-0664.

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Presentation on theme: "WV ETHICS COMMISSION 210 Brooks Street, Suite 300 Charleston WV 25301 304-558-0664."— Presentation transcript:

1 WV ETHICS COMMISSION 210 Brooks Street, Suite 300 Charleston WV 25301 304-558-0664

2 GOVERNMENT ETHICS Theresa M. Kirk Executive Director WV Ethics Commission

3 3 The Ethics Act  1989 – New incoming Governor, Gaston Caperton, called Special Legislative Session

4 4 Mission  Ethics  Open Meetings  School Board Eligibility per W. Va. Code § 18-5-1a  ALJ Code of Conduct  W.Va. Code §61-10-15 (county officials)

5 The Ethics Act  Applies to public servants in state, county & municipal government  Applies to executive, legislative & judicial branches  Applies to elected and appointed officials, full & part-time employees  Does not apply to contractors or private organizations receiving government funds 5

6 Meetings  12-member Ethics Commission ordinarily meets monthly on the first Thursday in the month  Commission meetings usually start at 10:00 AM and are concluded by 12:00 or 12:30 PM 6

7 7 Prohibited Interests in Public Contracts  W.Va. Code § 61-10-15 – County Officials  W.Va. Code § 6B-2-5(d) – All public servants

8 8 Prohibited Interests in Public Contracts  Elected public officials and full-time employees may not have a financial interest in a public contract under their authority or control  Ethics Commission has discretion to grant an exemption to the public entity based upon undue hardship

9 9 Prohibited Interests in Public Contracts  Certain county officials, including County Commissioners, Prosecuting Attorneys, Assessors, Sheriffs, County Clerks, School Board Members and officers, and appointed members of county boards, may not have a financial interest in a public contract over which their public position gives them voice, influence or control W.Va. Code 61-10-15

10 10 Prohibited Interests in Public Contracts  2007 – Amendment gave Ethics Commission authority to grant exemptions from prohibition  Government agency must demonstrate: (1) excessive cost; (2) undue hardship; or (3) substantial interference with government operations  Contract exemptions – the governing body and public official are identified by name

11 11 Prohibited Interests in Public Contracts  Ethics Act prohibition excludes public contracts involving no more than $1000 on an annual basis  W. Va. Code § 61-10-15 applies to all contracts (Commission has allowed volunteers to accept $1 annually to be included under agency insurance)

12 12 Voting – W.Va. Code §6B-2-5(j)  May not vote on employment of a relative  May not vote to award contract to a business with which member or an immediate family member is associated

13 13 Voting  “Relatives” include husband, wife, son, daughter, son-in- law, daughter-in- law, father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandmother, grandfather, & grandchild

14 14 Voting  “Immediate family members” includes spouse with whom you are living, dependent children, dependent parents and dependent grandchildren

15 15 Use of Office for Personal Gain  May not use public resources to conduct private business  § 6B-2-5(b)  More than a de minimis use of public resources violates the Act

16 16 Confidential Information  May not disclose information that is confidential by law  Improper disclosure is a criminal misdemeanor

17 17 Revolving door- Limitations  1 year limitation – Elected officials Appointed officials Attorneys Accountants  Other –does not apply to Members of Legislature and staff

18 18 Outside Employment  Cannot conflict with current employment  Must work on own time  Can’t get paid for something that is part of your public job duties  Cannot work for someone you regulate

19 Seeking Employment  Limitations when regulated entity or vendor.  May seek exemption from Ethics Commission.  Transparency 19

20 20 Outside employment  Full-time public servants may not work for vendors if they exercise authority or control over a contract with that vendor

21 21 Outside employment  “Exercising authority or control” includes (1) drafting bid specifications; (2) selecting vendor; (3) conducting inspections; (4) approving payment

22 22 Gift Limitations  The Ethics Act prohibits public servants from accepting gifts from interested persons, under certain circumstances

23 23 Gift Limitations  General rule – may not accept gift from an interested party in excess of $25  Legislative Rule clarifies that this means $25 from one source in a calendar year

24 24 Gift Limitations  No $ limit on food and beverages if host is present  Public agencies may adopt stricter limits

25 25 Violations

26  Sporting events – Stricter limits. Ticket must be $25.00 or less. May not take guest if total value of all tickets exceeds $25.00.  Sporting events – ceremonial role - $25.00 limit does not apply; may accept a ticket for a guest 26 Free Tickets Title 158, Series 7

27 27 Charitable Solicitation  Gifts may only be solicited for a charitable purpose  Charities include United Way and educational programs for children

28 Complaints and Sanctions  Any citizen may file a complaint  Complaints must be verified  Ethics Commission may initiate a complaint based on credible evidence that a material violation has occurred

29 Probable Cause Review Board  3 Members appointed by Governor and Approved by Senate  Similar to a grand jury  Proceedings are confidential until and unless Probable Cause is found then work of Review Board ends at that stage 29

30 Processing Complaints  Complaints are initially confidential  Probable Cause Review Board must accept for investigation  After investigation, complaint may proceed to hearing if the Board unanimously finds probable cause

31 What happens during the investigation stage?  Respondent may personally appear  Respondent may file a written response  Respondent may not be compelled to respond in person or in writing and failure may not be used against them  May enter into Conciliation Agreement 31

32 Public Hearing  Conducted by Administrative Law Judge  Open to press and public  ALJ issues recommended decision

33 Complaint Adjudication  Entire 12-member Commission reviews ALJ recommendation and record  At least 7 must vote “guilty”  Sanctions imposed by majority rule

34 Sanctions and Penalties  Ethics Commission must find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt  Available sanctions include: (1) cease and desist order; (2) public reprimand; (3) monetary fine up to $ 5,000.00 (per offense); (4) order of restitution; (5) repay costs of the investigation; and (6) recommendation for termination or removal

35 35 Open Meetings 1999 – Legislature gave a Committee within the Ethics Commission authority to issue formal advisory opinions

36 36 Notice and Agenda The Open Meetings Act requires advance notice of the date, time, and place of the meeting, and an agenda of matters to be considered.

37 37 Meeting Agenda  All state, county & municipal agencies – Issue meeting agenda 3 business days in advance  Business days do not include the day of the meetings, weekends or legal holidays  Post in public place by close of business on day # 1

38 38 Meeting Notice  State agencies – publish meeting notice in State Register 5 calendar days in advance  County & municipal agencies – provide reasonable notice  Regular Meetings – may follow established schedule or 3 business days’ notice  Special Meetings – provide 2 business days’ notice

39 39 Executive Session  Personnel – most common exemption  Hiring, firing, promoting, transfer, discipline or compensation of an employee  Employee may request open session, if asked to meet in executive session

40 40 Executive Session  Settlement negotiations – Attorney may ask for settlement authority in Executive Session  Final settlement – public information

41 41 WV ETHICS COMMISSION  Any questions?

42 WV ETHICS COMMISSION 210 Brooks Street, Suite 300 Charleston WV 25301 Toll-free #: 866-558-0664

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