[HISTORY: Adopted by the County Board of McLean County 5-18-2004; amended in its entirety 1-21-2014. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- CAMPAIGN FOR ELECTIVE OFFICE
- Any activity in furtherance of an effort to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any individual to any federal, state, or local public office or office in a political organization, or the selection, nomination, or election of Presidential or Vice Presidential electors, but does not include activities:
- A person who has filed nominating papers or petitions for nomination or election to an elected office, or who has been appointed to fill a vacancy in nomination, and who remains eligible for placement on the ballot at a regular election, as defined in Section 1-3 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/1-3).
- COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
- Has the same meaning as that term is defined in Section 3 of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (5 ILCS 315/3).
- An Ethics Commission created by the County Board of McLean County, Illinois.
- COMPENSATED TIME
- With respect to an employee, any time worked by or credited to the employee that counts toward any minimum work time requirement imposed as a condition of his or her employment, but for purposes of this chapter does not include any designated holidays, vacation periods, personal time, compensatory time off or any period when the employee is on a leave of absence. With respect to officers or employees whose hours are not fixed, compensated time includes any period of time when the officer is on premises under the control of the employer and any other time when the officer or employee is executing his or her official duties, regardless of location.
- COMPENSATORY TIME OFF
- Authorized time off earned by or awarded to an employee to compensate in whole or in part for time worked in excess of the minimum work time required of that employee as a condition of his or her employment.
- Has the same meaning as that term is defined in Section 9-1.4 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/9-1.4).
- ELECTED OFFICER or ELECTED OFFICIAL
- A person elected or appointed to an elective County office, regardless of whether the officer is compensated for service in his or her official capacity, but does not include the Circuit Court Judges, the nonjudicial officers of the Circuit Court, the Circuit Clerk or State's Attorney.
- A person employed by the employer, whether on a full-time or part-time basis or occasional/seasonal basis or pursuant to a contract, whose duties are subject to the direction and control of an employer with regard to the material details of how the work is to be performed, but does not include an independent contractor.
- McLean County, Illinois, as well as its elected and appointed officials.
- Any gratuity, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other tangible or intangible item having monetary value, including, but not limited to, cash, food and drink, and honoraria for speaking engagements related to or attributed to government employment or the official position of an officer or employee.
- LEAVE OF ABSENCE
- Any period during which an employee does not receive:
- Any activity in support of or in connection with any campaign for elective office or any political organization, but does not include activities:
- POLITICAL ORGANIZATION
- A party, committee, association, fund, or other organization (whether or not incorporated) that is required to file a statement of organization with the State Board of Elections or a County Clerk under Section 9-3 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/9-3), but only with regard to those activities that require filing with the State Board of Elections or a County Clerk.
- A. Preparing for, organizing, or participating in any political meeting, political rally, political demonstration, or other political event.
- B. Soliciting contributions, including but not limited to the purchase of, selling, distributing, or receiving payment for tickets for any political fund-raiser, political meeting, or other political event.
- C. Soliciting, planning the solicitation of, or preparing any document or report regarding anything of value intended as a campaign contribution.
- D. Planning, conducting, or participating in a public opinion poll in connection with a campaign for elective office or on behalf of a political organization for political purposes or for/against any referendum question.
- E. Surveying or gathering information from potential or actual voters in an election to determine probable vote outcome in connection with a campaign for elective office or on behalf of a political organization for political purposes or for/against any referendum question.
- F. Assisting at the polls on Election Day on behalf of any political organization or candidate for elective office or for/against any referendum question.
- G. Soliciting votes on behalf of a candidate for elective office or a political organization or for/against any referendum question or helping in an effort to get voters to the polls.
- H. Initiating for circulation, preparing, circulating, reviewing, or filing any petition on behalf of a candidate for elective office or for/against any referendum question.
- I. Making contributions on behalf of any candidate for elective office in that capacity or in connection with a campaign for elective office.
- J. Preparing or reviewing responses to candidate questionnaires in connection with a campaign for elective office or on behalf of a political organization for political purposes.
- K. Distributing, preparing for distribution, or mailing campaign literature, campaign signs, or other campaign material on behalf of any candidate for elective office or for/against any referendum question.
- L. Campaigning for any elective office or for/against any referendum question.
- M. Managing or working on a campaign for elective office or for/against any referendum question.
- N. Serving as a delegate, alternate, or proxy to a political party convention.
- O. Participating in any recount or challenge to the outcome of any election.
- PROHIBITED SOURCE
- Any person or entity who:
- A. Is seeking official action by an officer or by an employee, or by the officer or another employee directing that employee;
- B. Does business or seeks to do business with the officer or with an employee, or with the officer or another employee directing that employee;
- C. Conducts activities regulated by the officer or by an employee, or by the officer or another employee directing that employee; or
- D. Has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the official duties of the officer or employee.
- SUBSIDIARY BODY
- Any board, commission, or committee created or authorized by statute or ordinance of the County.
For purposes of this chapter, the following are prohibited political activities:
No officer or employee shall intentionally perform any prohibited political activity during any compensated time, as defined herein. No officer or employee shall intentionally use any property or resources of McLean County in connection with any prohibited political activity.
At no time shall any officer or employee intentionally require any other officer or employee to perform any prohibited political activity:
No officer or employee shall be required at any time to participate in any prohibited political activity in consideration for that officer or employee being awarded additional compensation or any benefit, whether in the form of a salary adjustment, bonus, compensatory time off, continued employment or otherwise, nor shall any officer or employee be awarded additional compensation or any benefit in consideration for his or her participation in any prohibited political activity.
Nothing in this section prohibits activities that are permissible for an officer or employee to engage in as part of his or her official duties, or activities that are undertaken by an officer or employee on a voluntary basis which are not prohibited by this chapter.
No person either in a position that is subject to recognized merit principles of public employment or in a position the salary for which is paid in whole or in part by federal funds and that is subject to the Federal Standards for a Merit System of Personnel Administration applicable to grant-in-aid programs shall be denied or deprived of employment or tenure solely because he or she is a member or an officer of a political committee, of a political party, or of a political organization or club.
Gift ban. Except as permitted by this section, no officer or employee, and no spouse of or immediate family member living with any officer or employee (collectively referred to herein as "recipients") shall intentionally solicit or accept any gift from any prohibited source, as defined herein, or which is otherwise prohibited by law or ordinance. No prohibited source shall intentionally offer or make a gift that violates this subsection.
Subsection A is not applicable to the following:
Opportunities, benefits, and services that are available on the same conditions as for the general public.
Anything for which the officer or employee, or his or her spouse or immediate family member, pays the fair market value.
Educational materials and missions.
Travel expenses for a meeting to discuss business.
A gift from a relative, meaning those people related to the individual as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, great uncle, great aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, and including the father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother of the individual's spouse and the individual's fiance or fiancee.
Anything provided by an individual on the basis of a personal friendship unless the recipient has reason to believe that, under the circumstances, the gift was provided because of the official position or employment of the recipient or his or her spouse or immediate family member and not because of the personal friendship. In determining whether a gift is provided on the basis of personal friendship, the recipient shall consider the circumstances under which the gift was offered, such as:
The history of the relationship between the individual giving the gift and the recipient of the gift, including any previous exchange of gifts between those individuals;
Whether, to the actual knowledge of the recipient, the individual who gave the gift personally paid for the gift or sought a tax deduction or business reimbursement for the gift; and
Whether, to the actual knowledge of the recipient, the individual who gave the gift also at the same time gave the same or similar gifts to other officers or employees, or their spouses or immediate family members.
Food or refreshments not exceeding $75 per person in value on a single calendar day; provided that the food or refreshments are consumed on the premises from which they were purchased or prepared or are catered. For the purposes of this subsection, "catered" means food or refreshments that are purchased ready to consume which are delivered by any means.
Food, refreshments, lodging, transportation, and other benefits resulting from outside business or employment activities (or outside activities that are not connected to the official duties of an officer or employee), if the benefits have not been offered or enhanced because of the official position or employment of the officer or employee, and are customarily provided to others in similar circumstances.
Intragovernmental and intergovernmental gifts. For the purpose of this chapter, "intragovernmental gift" means any gift given to an officer or employee from another officer or employee, and "intergovernmental gift" means any gift given to an officer or employee by an officer or employee of another governmental entity.
Bequests, inheritances, and other transfers at death.
Any item or items from any one prohibited source during any calendar year having a cumulative total value of less than $100.
Each of the exceptions listed in this subsection is mutually exclusive and independent of every other.
Disposition of gifts. An officer or employee, his or her spouse or an immediate family member living with the officer or employee does not violate this chapter if the recipient promptly takes reasonable action to return a gift from a prohibited source to its source or gives the gift or an amount equal to its value to an appropriate charity that is exempt from income taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as now or hereafter amended, renumbered, or succeeded.
The County Board Chairman, with the advice and consent of the County Board, shall designate an Ethics Advisor for McLean County. The duties of the Ethics Advisor may be delegated to an officer or employee of McLean County unless the position has been created as an office by the McLean County Board.
The Ethics Advisor shall provide guidance to the officers and employees of McLean County concerning the interpretation of and compliance with the provisions of this chapter and state ethics laws. The Ethics Advisor shall perform such duties as may be delegated by the County Board.
There is hereby created a commission to be known as the "Ethics Commission of McLean County." The Commission shall be comprised of three members appointed by the Chairman of the County Board with the advice and consent of the County Board. No person shall be appointed as a member of the Commission who is related, either by blood or marriage up to the degree of first cousin, to any elected officer of McLean County. No more than two members of the Commission shall belong to the same political party at the time such appointments are made. Party affiliation shall be determined by affidavit of the persons appointed.
At the first meeting of the Commission, the initial appointees shall draw lots to determine their initial terms. Two Commissioners shall serve two-year terms, and the third Commissioner shall serve a one-year term. Thereafter, all Commissioners shall be appointed to two-year terms. Commissioners may be reappointed to serve subsequent terms.
At the first meeting of the Commission, the Commissioners shall choose a Chairperson from their number. Meetings shall be held at the call of the Chairperson or any two Commissioners. A quorum shall consist of two Commissioners; an official action by the Commission shall require the affirmative vote of two members.
The Chairman of the County Board, with the advice and consent of the County Board, may remove a Commissioner in case of incompetency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office after service on the Commissioner by certified mail, return receipt requested, of a copy of the written charges against the Commissioner and after providing an opportunity to be heard in person or by counsel upon not less than 10 days' notice. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as original appointments.
The Commission shall have the following powers and duties:
To promulgate procedures and rules governing the performance of its duties and the exercise of its powers.
Upon receipt of a signed, notarized, written complaint, to investigate, conduct hearings and deliberations, issue recommendations for disciplinary actions, impose fines in accordance with § 37-7 of this chapter and refer violations of § 37-2 or 37-3 of this chapter to the McLean County State's Attorney. The Commission shall, however, act only upon the receipt of a written complaint alleging a violation of this chapter and not upon its own prerogative.
To receive information from the public pertaining to its investigations and to require additional information and documents from persons who may have violated the provisions of this chapter.
To compel the attendance of witnesses and to compel the production of books and papers pertinent to an investigation. It is the obligation of all officers and employees of McLean County to cooperate with the Commission during the course of its investigations. Failure or refusal to cooperate with any request by the Commission shall constitute grounds for discipline or discharge where provided by law.
The powers and duties of the Commission are limited to matters clearly within the purview of this chapter.
Complaints alleging a violation of this chapter shall be filed with the Ethics Commission.
A complaint alleging a violation of this chapter must be filed within one year after the alleged violation. For purposes of this subsection, "filed" means received by a member of the Ethics Commission or by a staff member of the McLean County Administration Office.
Notice of initial hearing. Within three business days after the receipt of a complaint, the Commission shall send by certified mail, return receipt requested, a notice to the respondent that a complaint has been filed against him or her and a copy of the complaint. The Commission shall send by certified mail, return receipt requested, a confirmation of the receipt of the complaint to the complainant within three business days after receipt by the Commission. The notices to the respondent and the complainant shall also advise them of the date, time, and place of the meeting to determine the sufficiency of the complaint and to establish whether probable cause exists to proceed.
Initial hearing on sufficiency and probable cause to proceed. Upon not less than 48 hours' public notice, the Commission shall meet to review the sufficiency of the complaint and, if the complaint is deemed sufficient to allege a violation of this chapter, to determine whether there is probable cause, based on the evidence presented by the complainant, to proceed. The meeting may be closed to the public to the extent authorized by the Open Meetings Act. The Commission shall issue notice to the complainant and the respondent of the Commission's ruling on the sufficiency of the complaint and, if necessary, on probable cause to proceed within seven business days after receiving the complaint.
Editor's Note: See 5 ILCS 120/1 et seq.
Allegations regarding § 37-3.
Notice of hearing or notification to State's Attorney. If the complaint is deemed sufficient to allege a violation of § 37-3 of this chapter and there is a determination of probable cause, then the Commission's notice to the parties shall include a hearing date scheduled within four weeks after the complaint's receipt. Alternatively, the Commission may elect to notify in writing the McLean County State's Attorney to consider prosecution of such actions. If the complaint is deemed not sufficient to allege a violation or if there is no determination of probable cause, then the Commission shall send by certified mail, return receipt requested, a notice to the parties of the decision to dismiss the complaint, and that notice shall be made public.
Notice of dismissal. If the complaint is deemed sufficient to allege a violation of § 37-2 of this chapter, then the Commission shall notify in writing the McLean County State's Attorney to consider prosecution of such actions and shall transmit to the McLean County State's Attorney the complaint and all additional documents in the custody of the Commission concerning the alleged violation.
Hearing before the Commission. On the scheduled date and upon at least 48 hours' public notice of the meeting, the Commission shall conduct a hearing on the complaint and shall allow both parties the opportunity to present testimony and evidence. The hearing may be closed to the public only if authorized by the Open Meetings Act.
Continuances. At the discretion of the Ethics Commission and for good cause shown, the Ethics Commission may grant a continuance of a scheduled hearing to any party.
Except in bona fide emergencies, motions for continuances shall be submitted tot he Commission in writing as soon as possible after the reason for the request for continuance is known. A copy of the motion shall be served on the opposing party.
In situations where time is too short to present a written motion for continuance, the party shall contact the Commission directly by any reasonable means and shall notify the opposing party likewise. The Commission may grant a hearing and a decision by default may be entered against any party not appearing.
Any party who desires such may be represented by legal counsel. The accused party shall be afforded the opportunity to respond and present evidence and argument, to call witnesses, and to compel the attendance of witnesses by subpoena.
All witnesses who testify shall do so under oath.
The Commission shall cause a record of the hearing to be preserved, which shall include the following: all pleadings, notices, motions, rulings, etc.; all documentary or physical evidence received; offers of proof, objections and rulings thereon; and any decision, opinion or report by the Commission; and an electronic recording of the hearing proceedings.
Rules of evidence.
Irrelevant, immaterial and unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded. The rules of evidence and privileges as applied in civil cases in the Circuit Courts of the State of Illinois shall be followed. However, evidence not admissible under such rules may be admitted, except where prohibited by statute, if it is a type commonly relied upon by reasonably prudent persons in the conduct of their affairs. Objections to evidentiary offers may be made and shall be noted in the record. Subject to these requirements, when the cause of a hearing will be expedited and the interest of the parties will not be prejudiced, any part of the evidence may be received in written form or by stipulation.
Parties shall have the right to conduct cross-examination of witnesses to the extent necessary for a full and fair disclosure of the facts. Notice may be taken of matters which the Circuit Court of the state may take judicial notice. In addition, notice may be taken of generally recognized technical or scientific facts within the agencies within the Commission's specialized knowledge. Such notice shall be noted in the record. The Commission's experience, technical competence, and specialized knowledge may be utilized in the evaluation of evidence.
Decisions of the Commission.
Violation of the Ethics Ordinance shall be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.
Findings of fact shall be based exclusively on the evidence and on matters officially noticed.
Within 30 days after the date the hearing or any recessed hearing is concluded, the Commission shall either dismiss the complaint or issue a recommendation for discipline up to and including discharge of the alleged violator to the County Board Chairman or other officer having authority to discipline the officer or employee or impose a fine upon the violator, or both. The particular findings in the case, any recommendation for discipline, and any fine imposed shall be a matter of public information.
If the hearing was closed to the public, the respondent may file a written demand for a public hearing on the complaint within seven business days of the issuance of the recommendation for discipline or imposition of a fine, or both. The filing of the demand shall stay the enforcement of the recommendation or fine. Within 14 days after receiving the demand, the Commission shall conduct a public hearing on the complaint upon at least 48 hours' public notice of the hearing and allow both parties the opportunity to present testimony and evidence. Within seven days thereafter, the Commission shall publicly issue a final recommendation to the alleged violator and the Chairman of the County Board or other officer having authority to discipline the officer or employee or impose a fine upon the violator, or both.
If a complaint is filed during the 60 days preceding the date of any election at which the respondent is a candidate, the Commission shall render its decision as required under Subsection C(7)(c) within seven days preceding that election. The Commission shall render such decision before the date of that election, if possible.
Unless precluded by law, disposition may be made of any case by stipulation, agreed settlement, consent order, or default, at any stage in the proceedings. If the Commission does not concur with any proposed disposition or stipulation or settlement, the hearing shall proceed to completion.
Types of offenses.
A person is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor if that person intentionally violates any provision of § 37-2 of this chapter.
A person who intentionally violates any provision of § 37-3 of this chapter is guilty of a business offense.
Any person who intentionally makes a false report alleging a violation of any provision of this chapter to the Ethics Commission of McLean County, to the State's Attorney or any other law enforcement official is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
A violation of § 37-2 of this chapter may be prosecuted as a criminal offense by the McLean County State's Attorney by filing in the Circuit Court an information, or sworn complaint, charging such offense. The prosecution shall be under and conform to the rules of criminal procedure. Conviction shall require the establishment of the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.