Town of Chesapeake Beach, MD
Calvert County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Chesapeake Beach 7-21-2016 by Ord. No. O-16-11. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Administration of government — See Ch. 7.
Agencies, boards and commissions — See Ch. 10.
Personnel policies — See Ch. 50.

§ 25-1 Applicability; Definitions.

A. 
This chapter applies to elected officials, candidates to become elected officials, officers, and appointed officials of the Town, as set forth below:
(1) 
The Mayor and members of the Town Council, whether elected or appointed (referred to as "elected officials").
(2) 
Candidates to become elected officials.
(3) 
The Town Administrator, Town Treasurer, Town Clerk, Code Enforcement Officer, Planning and Zoning Administrator (referred to as "officers"), and such other employees or appointees of the Town who may from time to time be designated by the Town Council as officers for purposes of this chapter.
(4) 
Members of the Board of Elections, the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Ethics Commission (referred to as "appointed officials"), and such other employees or appointees of the Town who may from time to time be designated by the Town Council as appointed officials for purposes of this chapter.
B. 
In this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings set forth:
CLOSE RELATIVE
A spouse, parent, child or sibling.
INTEREST
A legal or equitable ownership interest in property or in a business or other entity held by a person directly or indirectly, through a corporation, trust, or otherwise, but does not include an interest held in a fiduciary capacity, an interest in a mutual fund or in publicly traded securities, or an interest in any business or other venture where the person has no significant influence on its operations.
KNOW or TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF or words of equivalent meaning
Actual knowledge, and for the avoidance of doubt, it shall not be presumed that a person has actual knowledge of information possessed by his or her parent, sibling or adult child, and that he or she has knowledge shall not be inferred from his or her failure to obtain such information.

§ 25-2 Ethics Commission.

A. 
There is hereby established the Chesapeake Beach Ethics Commission (the "Commission") that consists of three members appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the Council for terms of five years and subject to removal only by majority vote of the whole Council.
B. 
The Commission shall:
(1) 
Devise all forms and receive and maintain all filings as required by this chapter.
(2) 
Provide advisory opinions to persons subject to or affected by this chapter regarding the applicability of this chapter to them.
(3) 
Make determinations by unanimous Commission vote of all three members regarding complaints filed with the Commission by any person alleging a violation of this chapter and develop procedures and policies for the processing of such complaints.
(4) 
Submit a report on its activities at each meeting of the Town Council.
C. 
The Commission shall be advised by independent counsel appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the Town Council and of the Commission.
D. 
The Commission shall certify to the State Ethics Commission on or before October 1 of each year that the Town is in compliance with the applicable provisions of the State Public Ethics Law, as amended from time to time.
E. 
The Commission shall determine by unanimous Commission vote of all three members if changes to this chapter are required in order for the Town to remain in compliance with the applicable provisions of the Maryland Ethics Law, or if any other changes or amendments are necessary or desirable, and shall forward any recommended changes or amendments to the Council to be considered for enactment.
F. 
The Commission shall keep a written record of its proceedings and issue its opinions, decisions and other actions in writing. The Commission may adopt such regulations as well as internal policies and procedures as it may deem necessary or useful to perform its functions.

§ 25-3 Conflicts of interest.

A. 
Prohibitions of participation in decisions.
(1) 
An official or officer may not represent a party in any matter before or involving the Town (other than the Town itself), or participate in a decision by the Town involving:
(a) 
An interest of the official or officer or, to his or her knowledge, an interest of a close relative; or
(b) 
A business or other entity of which the official or officer or, to his or her knowledge, a close relative, is an officer, director, or executive employee, or with which the official or officer or, to his or her knowledge, a close relative has a relationship which may result in a conflict between the private interests of the official or officer and his or her official duties.
(2) 
Notwithstanding the prohibitions of Subsection A(1), an official or officer is not disqualified from acting or participating in any decision in the exercise of an administrative or ministerial duty that does not affect the disposition or decision of the matter.
(3) 
The prohibitions of Subsection A(1) do not apply if action or participation is allowed by regulation or opinion of the Commission.
B. 
Prohibition of actions after leaving office. For a period of one year after an official or officer leaves office, he or she may not represent any party in an adverse position to the Town for compensation in any matter involving the Town, if that matter is one in which the former official or officer significantly participated in his or her former capacity.
C. 
Prohibition of solicitation or acceptance of gifts.
(1) 
An official or officer may not solicit or accept any gift to himself or to a close relative from a person or entity that he or she knows is doing business or is seeking to do business with the Town, or that has an interest that may be materially affected, in a manner distinguishable from the public generally, by the performance or nonperformance of the official duties of the official or officer. As used in this Subsection C, "gift" means anything with a value of $20 or more, including tangible or intangible property, service, or another economic benefit.
(2) 
Notwithstanding the prohibition of Subsection C(1), an official or officer may accept a gift that would not tend to impair his or her impartiality or his or her independence of judgment or may give the appearance of doing so, or a specific gift or class of gifts that the Commission exempts from this Subsection C upon a finding that acceptance of the gift or class of gifts would not be detrimental to the impartial conduct of the business of the Town.
(3) 
Nothing in this Subsection C or in any other provision of this chapter shall be construed to restrict in any way the right of an official or officer who is a candidate for elective office to solicit or accept campaign contributions from any person or entity without any restriction or disclosure requirement whatsoever.
D. 
Prohibition of disclosure of confidential information. An official or officer may not disclose or use any confidential information that he or she acquired by reason of his or her position with the Town for his or her own benefit or that of another person or entity. As used in this Subsection D, "confidential information" means any information relating to the Town's affairs that was designated, in writing or verbally, as confidential when it was disclosed or otherwise became available to the official or officer, or that was acquired by him or her under circumstances indicating its confidentiality.
E. 
Determination of the existence of a violation. If an official or officer has reason to suspect that he or she may be disqualified from acting under Subsection A of this section or that he or she may otherwise be in violation of the conflict of interest provisions of this § 25-3, or if it is alleged by any other official or officer or by a member of the public that an official or officer may be disqualified or otherwise be in violation of the conflict of interest provisions, the official or officer who may be disqualified or in violation shall promptly disclose the relevant facts to the Commission and to the body of which he or she is a member. The Commission shall then make a determination whether or not the official or officer shall be disqualified or is otherwise in violation of § 25-3.

§ 25-4 Financial disclosure.

A. 
All elected officials and candidates for elected office shall file with the Commission a financial disclosure statement on a form provided by the Commission, as set forth in this Subsection A. No financial disclosures shall be required of Town officers or of appointed officials because such requirement would constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy, significantly reduce the availability of qualified persons for public service, and is not necessary to procure the purposes of this chapter.
(1) 
An incumbent elected official shall file the statement annually no later than April 30 of each year for the preceding calendar year.
(2) 
An individual who is appointed to fill a vacancy in an office for which a financial disclosure statement is required and who has not already filed a financial disclosure statement shall file a statement for the preceding calendar year within 30 days after appointment.
(3) 
An individual who leaves an office for which a statement is required shall file a statement for the period covered by the individual's most recent statement through the individual's last day in office within 60 days after leaving the office.
(4) 
A candidate for elected office shall file a financial disclosure statement for the preceding calendar year no later than the last day for the filing of a certificate of nomination in accordance with § 22-26 of the Town Code, and the Commission shall promptly forward a copy of the statement to the Town Clerk. If a candidate fails to file a statement on or before such day, the candidate is deemed to have withdrawn his or her candidacy.
[Amended 9-15-2016 by Ord. No. O-16-14]
B. 
Financial disclosure statements shall be made available to the public at Town Hall during normal office hours for examination and copying, subject to reasonable fees and administrative procedures established by the Town. The Town Clerk shall retain financial disclosure statements for four years from the date of filing.
C. 
The financial disclosure statement shall contain schedules of:
(1) 
All interests in real property located in the Town held by the reporting person, including the nature of the property (such as commercial, residential or undeveloped), the location by street address or legal description, and whether the interest is held solely by the reporting individual, and if not, the identity of any other person or entity with an interest in the property.
(2) 
All interests (other than publicly traded securities) and any offices, directorships and employment held by the reporting person in any business entity that he or she knows does business with the Town (except occasional or incidental business), including the name of the business entity and the address of its principal office and the nature of the entity's business with the Town.
(3) 
All sources of earned income (without stating the amount), including a schedule of the name and address of each place of employment and other entity or venture from which the reporting person received earned income during the reporting period. If the reporting person is the sole proprietor of a business, a sole practitioner of a professional practice, or a member of a business or professional partnership, it shall be sufficient to state that he or she receives earned income from such venture.
(4) 
All gifts in excess of $20 in value or a series of gifts totaling $100 or more received during the reporting period from or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any one person who does business with or is regulated by the Town. For each gift reported, the schedule shall include a description of the nature and value of the gift and the identity of the person from whom, or on behalf of whom, directly or indirectly, the gift was received.
D. 
The Commission shall review the financial disclosure statements submitted under this § 25-4 and shall notify a reporting person of any omissions or deficiencies, which the person shall then promptly remedy.

§ 25-5 Exemptions and modifications.

The Commission may grant exemptions and modifications by unanimous Commission vote of all three members to the provisions of §§ 25-3 and 25-4 of this chapter when the Commission finds that the application of these provisions would constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy, significantly reduce the availability of qualified persons for public service, and not be necessary to procure the purposes of this chapter.

§ 25-6 Enforcement.

A. 
If the Commission receives a complaint, the Commission shall investigate the matter, giving the person alleged or believed to have committed the violation the opportunity to be heard and to remedy any violation. After reasonable investigation, the Commission shall make a determination, by unanimous Commission vote of three members, whether a violation has occurred and remains unremedied.
B. 
If there has been a finding of violation by unanimous Commission vote of all three members, the Commission shall make a further determination of whether or not the respondent shall be publicly reprimanded. Upon such determination, the Commission's finding of violation shall be publicly announced at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Town Council and shall be posted on the Town's website. If the Commission finds that there has been no violation, then at the request of the respondent this finding shall be publicly announced and be posted on the Town's website for a period not exceeding six months.
C. 
In addition, if the Commission finds by unanimous Commission vote of all three members that a violation has been committed, it may:
(1) 
Assess a late fee of $2 per day up to a maximum of $250 for a failure to timely file a financial disclosure statement required by this chapter;
(2) 
Issue a cease and desist order against any person found to be in violation of this chapter; and/or
(3) 
Recommend to the appropriate authority other appropriate discipline of the respondent, including censure or removal if that discipline is authorized by law.

§ 25-7 Indemnification of Commission members.

The Town shall defend (and advance the costs thereof) and indemnify any member of the Commission against all claims, charges, suits, judgments and other liabilities arising out of or related to the member's acts as a member of the Commission which the member believed in good faith to be lawful, including but not limited to any enforcement action under § 25-6, unless it is proved that the member acted with actual malice or willful disregard of the truth.

§ 25-8 Construal of provisions.

This chapter may not be construed to the effect that it contains a complete and exhaustive enumeration of acts or conduct that is unethical.

§ 25-9 Effective date.

[Added 9-15-2016 by Ord. No. O-16-14]
This chapter shall take effect on January 1, 2017.