Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute Monday, July 14, 2014 Ethics for Public Officials

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Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute
Monday, July 14, 2014
Ethics for Public Officials
by Megan Tooker
1. Contact Information
a. Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board
510 East 12th, Suite 1A
Des Moines, IA 50319
General information: (515) 281-4028
Board’s website: www.iowa.gov/ethics/
b. Megan is the Executive Director and Legal Counsel for the Board
Megan’s direct line: (515) 281-3489
[email protected]
2. The Board’s mission
a. The Board’s mission is to foster the public trust and confidence in
government by ensuring the integrity of political campaigns, the
ethical standards of public officials and employees of the executive
branch, and the oversight of executive branch lobbyists. The Board
enforces the provisions of the "Campaign Disclosure-Income Tax
Checkoff Act" in Iowa Code chapter 68A, the "Government Ethics and
Lobbying Act" in Iowa Code chapter 68B, the reporting of gifts and
bequests received by agencies under Iowa Code section 8.7, and the
Board's administrative rules in Chapter 351 of the Iowa
Administrative Code.
3. Board’s interaction with local government personnel
a. Enforce Iowa Code 68A – campaign finance laws
b. Provide advice to local government personnel concerning the
application of ethics laws in Iowa Code Ch. 68B
i.
Note: the Board does not investigate complaints or impose
sanctions against local government personnel
ii.
Complaints alleging conduct of local officials or employees
which violates Chapter 68B should be made to county attorney
iii.
A complaint shall be referred to another county attorney in the
event the county attorney has a personal or legal conflict of
interest
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c. The Board has the discretion to enter into an agreement with a
political subdivision authorizing the Board to enforce the provisions of
a code of ethics adopted by that political subdivision
d. Individuals may request an advisory opinion from the board – the
Board’s advice if followed constitutes a defense to a complaint
4. Ethics rules that apply to local government officials and employees
a. Iowa Code chapter 68B
b. Iowa Administrative Code chapter 351 (the Board's administrative
rules)
c. The Board’s advisory opinions
d. Any ethics code adopted by the local government
i.
Note: a local ethics code must mirror or be more stringent than
Iowa Code chapter 68B.
5. Conflicts of Interest
a. Definition: A conflict between the public obligations and the private
interests of a public official.
b. Actual conflict of interest versus potential conflict of interest
c. Prohibited outside employment and activities
i.
ii.
iii.
Outside employment or activity that involves political
subdivision’s time, facilities, equipment, and supplies or the use
of a political subdivision badge, uniform, business card of other
evidence of office or employment to give the person or member
of person’s immediate family (i.e. spouse and dependent
children) an advantage or monetary benefit that is not available
to the general public (absolute prohibition)
Outside employment or an activity that involves the receipt of,
promise of, or acceptance of money or other consideration by
the person, or a member of the person's immediate family, from
anyone other than the state or the political subdivision for the
performance of any act that the person would be required or
expected to perform as a part of the person's regular duties or
during the hours during which the person performs service or
work for the state or political subdivision of the state (absolute
prohibition)
Outside employment or an activity that is subject to the official
control, inspection, review, audit, or enforcement authority of
the person, during the performance of the person's duties of
office or employment
1. Person should cease the outside employment or activity OR
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2. Publicly disclose the existence of a conflict & refrain from
taking any official action or perform any official duty that
would detrimentally affect or create a benefit
a. Official action or duty includes voting, influencing any
vote, granting license or permit, determining the fact or
law in a contested case or rulemaking proceeding,
conducting any inspection or providing any other official
service or thing
6. Misuse of Public Property
a. Public property means any real or personal property controlled by the
state of Iowa
b. Prohibited uses
i.
ii.
iii.
iv.
v.
vi.
Using public property to engage in an outside employment or
activity
Using public property to knowingly and purposefully send,
receive, or view obscene material (doesn’t apply to law
enforcement investigation)
Using public property for personal financial gain (doesn’t apply
to receipt of lawful compensation for the performance of official
duties)
Using public property for a personal benefit to the detriment of
the State
Removing public property from a State building or facility for
personal use
Using public property to engage in political activities
7. Gifts and offers
a. Legislative intent: public officials and employees should be extremely
cautious about accepting a gratuity or favor especially from persons
having substantial interest in the legislative, administrative or
political actions of the official or employee.
b. Except as provided below, a local government official or employee, or
that person’s immediate family (spouse and dependent children) shall
not accept or receive any gift or series of gifts from a restricted donor.
c. A restricted donor means a person who is any of the following:
i.
ii.
Is or is seeking to be a party to any one or any combination of
sales, purchases, leases, or contracts to, from, or with the
agency in which the donee holds office or is employed.
Will personally be, or is the agent of a person who will be,
directly and substantially affected financially by the
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iii.
iv.
performance or nonperformance of the donee's official duty in
a way that is greater than the effect on the public generally or
on a substantial class of persons to which the person belongs
as a member of a profession, occupation, industry, or region.
Is personally, or is the agent of a person who is, the subject
of or party to a matter which is pending before a subunit of a
regulatory agency and over which the donee has discretionary
authority as part of the donee's official duties or employment
within the regulatory agency subunit.
Is a lobbyist or a client of a lobbyist with respect to matters
within the donee's jurisdiction.
d. The following gifts may be given by a restricted donor and received by
a local government official or employee or that person’s immediate
family:
i.
ii.
iii.
iv.
v.
vi.
vii.
viii.
ix.
x.
xi.
Contributions to a candidate or candidate’s committee
Informational material relevant to a employee or official’s duties
(pamphlets, books, reports, documents)
Anything received from anyone related within the fourth degree
of kinship or marriage unless the donor is acting as an agent or
intermediary for another person not so related
An inheritance
Anything available or distributed free of charge to members of
the general public
Items received from a bona fide charitable, professional,
educational or business organization to which the donee
belongs as a dues-paying member if the items are given to all
members of the organization
Actual expenses of a donee for food, beverages, registration,
travel, and lodging for a meeting which is given in return for the
participation in a panel or speaking engagement at the meeting
when the expenses relate directly to the day or days in which
the done has participation or presentation responsibilities
Plaques or items of negligible resale value which were given as
recognition for the public services of the recipient
Food and beverages provided at a meal that is part of a bona
fide event or program at which the recipient is being honored for
public service
Nonmonetary items with a value of $3.00 or less that are
received from any one donor during one calendar day
Items or services solicited by or given to a state, national, or
regional government organization in which the state of Iowa or a
political subdivision of the state is a member for purposes of a
business or educational conference, seminar, or other meeting;
or solicited by or given to state, national, or regional
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xii.
xiii.
xiv.
xv.
government organizations, whose memberships and officers are
primarily composed of state or local government officials or
employees, for purposes of a business or educational
conference, seminar, or other meeting.
Items or services received by members or representatives of
members at a regularly scheduled event that is part of a
business or educational conference, seminar, or other meeting
that is sponsored and directed by any state, national, or
regional government organization in which the state of Iowa or a
political subdivision of the state is a member, or received at
such an event by members or representatives of members of
state, national, or regional government organizations whose
memberships and officers are primarily composed of state or
local government officials or employees.
Funeral flowers or memorials given to a church or nonprofit
organization
Gifts which are given to the local government official or
employee for the official or employee’s wedding or 25th or 50th
wedding anniversary
Gifts of food, beverages, travel or lodging received by a local
government official or employee if all of the following apply:
1. The official or employee is officially representing an agency in
a delegation whole sole purpose is to attract a specific new
business to locate in the state, encourage expansion or
retention of an existing business already established in the
state, or to develop markets for Iowa businesses or products
2. The donor of the gift is not the business or businesses being
contacted. (food or beverages provided by the business or
businesses being contacted which are consumed during the
meeting are not a gift)
3. The official or employee plays a significant role in the
presentation to the business or businesses on behalf of the
official’s or employee’s agency
xvi.
Gifts other than food, beverage, travel and lodging received by a
official or employee which are received from a person who is a
citizen of a country other than the U.S. and are given during a
ceremonial presentation or as a result of a custom of the other
country and are of personal value only to the donee
xvii. Actual registration costs for informational meetings or sessions
which assist an official or employee in the performance of the
person’s official functions.
1. The costs of food, drink, lodging and travel are not
“registration costs”.
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2. Meetings or sessions which an official or employee attends
for personal or professional licensing purposes are not
“meetings or sessions which assist an official or employee in
the performance of the person’s official functions”
e. A person may avoid violating Iowa Code § 68B.22 (the statute
pertaining to gifts) by donating an otherwise prohibited nonmonetary
gift within 30 days of receipt to a public body, DAS, or a bona fide
educational or charitable organization
8. Honoraria banned
a. Honoraria means the payment of compensation or the giving of
anything of value to an official or employee in relation to a speaking
engagement from a restricted donor (see definition above)
b. Except for the following circumstances, a local government official or
employee may not accept an honoraria from a restricted donor:
i.
The honorarium consists of the payment of actual expenses of a
donee for registration, food, beverages, travel, and lodging paid
in return for participation in a panel or speaking engagement at
a meeting when the expenses relate directly to the day or days
on which the recipient has participation or presentation
responsibilities
ii.
The honorarium consists of one or more nonmonetary items
that the official or employee donates within 30 days to a public
body, a bona fide educational or charitable organization or DAS
iii.
The honorarium consists of a payment made to an official or
employee for services rendered as part of a bona fide private
business, trade, or profession in which the official or employee
is engaged if the payment is commensurate with the actual
services rendered and is not being made because of the person’s
status as a local government official or employee, but rather
because of some special expertise or other qualification.
9. Use of confidential information
a. No local government official or employee shall disclose or use
confidential information, including the contents of a sealed bid
acquired during the course of the official’s or employee’s duties, for
the personal gain or benefit of any person.
10.
Enforcement
a. Complaints alleging conduct of local officials or employees which
violates Chapter 68B shall be filed with the county attorney in the
county where the accused resides
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i.
ii.
If the county attorney has a personal or professional conflict,
then the complaint shall be referred to another county attorney
The Board does not investigate complaints or impose sanctions
against local government personnel for Chapter 68B violations
b. Complaints alleging conduct of local officials or employees which
violates Chapter 68A (campaign disclosure laws) shall be filed with the
Board
i.
11.
Board investigates complaints and imposes sanctions against
local government personnel for Chapter 68A violations
Personal financial disclosure
a. Local officials and employees are NOT required to file personal
financial disclosures with the Board (Iowa Code § 68B.35)
12.
How to avoid unethical conduct
a. Be familiar with the applicable laws and rules
i.
Always read definition sections!
b. Use common sense
i.
Would it pass the “front page” test?
ii.
Would it pass the “hair on the back of your neck” test?
iii.
Would it pass the “stink” test?
c. Adopt written policies and follow them
d. Seek guidance from the Board, the Board’s executive director/legal
counsel or county attorney
e. When in doubt, assume conduct or act is unethetical and behave
accordingly
13.
Use of Public Resources for a Political Purpose
(Iowa Code § 68A.505)
a. The state and the governing body of a county, city, or
other political subdivision of the state shall not expend or
permit the expenditure of public moneys for political
purposes, including expressly advocating the passage or
defeat of a ballot issue.
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i.
ii.
“political purpose” means the express advocacy of a
candidate or ballot issue
“express advocacy” or “expressly advocate” means
in advocating the election or defeat of one or more
clearly identified candidates or the passage or
defeat of one or more clearly identified ballot issues,
the communication includes explicit words that
unambiguously indicate that the communication is
recommending or supporting a particular outcome
in the election with regard to any clearly identified
candidate or ballot issue
b. Section 68A.505 does not limit the freedom of speech of
officials or employees of the state or of officials or
employees of a governing body of a county, city, or other
political subdivision of the state.
c. Section 68A.505 allows the state or a governing body of a
political subdivision of the state to express an opinion on
a ballot issue through the passage of a resolution or
proclamation
d. Note: The Board investigates and enforces Chapter 68A
with respect to local government officials and employees
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