This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Cecil County Public Ethics Law."
Cecil County, recognizing that our system of representative government is dependent in part upon the people maintaining the highest trust in their public officials and employees, finds and declares that the people have a right to be assured that the impartiality and independent judgment of public officials and employees will be maintained.
It is evident that this confidence and trust is eroded when the conduct of the County's business is subject to improper influence and even the appearance of improper influence.
For the purpose of guarding against improper influence, the County enacts this Public Ethics Law to require County elected officials, officials, employees, and individuals appointed to boards and commissions to disclose their financial affairs and to set minimum standards for the conduct of local government business.
It is the intention of the County that this chapter, except its provisions for criminal sanctions, be liberally construed to accomplish this purpose.
In this chapter, the following terms have the meanings indicated:
- A. A corporation, general or limited partnership, limited-liability company, sole proprietorship, joint venture, unincorporated association or firm, institution, trust, foundation, or other organization, whether or not operated for profit.
- B. "Business entity" does not include a governmental entity.
- A. Any money or thing of value, regardless of form, received or to be received by any individual covered by this chapter from an employer for service rendered.
- B. For the purposes of Article VI of this chapter, if lobbying is only a portion of a person's employment, "compensation" means a pro-rated amount based on the time devoted to lobbying compared to the time devoted to other employment duties.
- CONFLICT OF INTEREST
- An actual or potential financial benefit, as distinguished from the general interest of the County or public, related to or resulting from an official's or employee's public duties and his/her personal, family, employer, business, or investment interests that s/he would reasonably be expected to know; or using one's position for the private gain of one's self or another.
- A. Having or negotiating a contract that involves the commitment, either in a single or combination of transactions, of $5,000 or more of County-controlled funds; or
- B. Being regulated by or otherwise subject to the authority of Cecil County; or
- C. Being registered as a lobbyist under Article VI of this chapter.
- A. Ownership of any interest as a result of which the owner has received, within the past three years, or is presently receiving, or in the future is entitled to receive, more than $1,000 per year; or
- B. Ownership, or the ownership of securities of any kind representing or convertible into ownership, of more than 3% of a business entity by a County official or employee, or the spouse of an official or employee.
- A. The transfer of anything of economic value, regardless of the form, without adequate and lawful consideration.
- B. "Gift" does not include a political campaign contribution regulated under the Elections Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, or any other provision of state or local law regulating the conduct of elections or the receipt of political campaign contributions.
- IMMEDIATE FAMILY
- A spouse and dependent children.
- A. A legal or equitable economic interest, whether or not subject to an encumbrance or a condition, that is owned or held, in whole or in part, jointly or severally, directly or indirectly.
- C. "Interest" does not include:
- (1) An interest held in the capacity of a personal agent, custodian, fiduciary, personal representative, or trustee, unless the holder has an equitable interest in the subject matter;
- (2) An interest in a time or demand deposit in a financial institution;
- (3) An interest in an insurance policy, endowment policy or annuity contract under which an insurer promises to pay a fixed amount of money either in a lump sum or periodically for life or a specified period;
- (4) A common trust fund or a trust which forms part of a pension or profit-sharing plan which has more than 25 participants and which has been determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be a qualified trust under the Internal Revenue Code; or
- (5) A college savings plan under the Internal Revenue Code.
- A. Communicating in the presence of a County official or employee with the intent to influence any official action of that official or employee; or
- B. Engaging in activities with the express purpose of soliciting others to communicate with a County official or employee with the intent to influence that official or employee.
- A person required to register and report expenses related to lobbying under Article VI of this chapter.
- An elected official or a person appointed to any County agency, board, commission, or similar entity:
- Includes an individual or business entity.
- QUALIFIED RELATIVE
- A spouse, parent, child, sibling, in-law, a dependent relative, or the spouse of a parent, child, sibling, in-law, or dependent relative.