All Complaints are considered by the three-member Probable Cause Review Board, which initially determines whether the allegations in the Complaint, if taken as true, state a “material” violation of the Ethics Act. (A material violation is one which is not trivial or inconsequential.) Those Complaints which do not state a material violation are dismissed without investigation.
Complaints which allege violations which occurred outside of the Act’s statute of limitations are dismissed without investigation. The statute of limitations for alleged violations which occurred before July 1, 2016, is two years. For violations which occur on or after July 1, 2016, the statute of limitations is five years.
The Ethics Act authorizes the Commission to enter into Conciliation (or settlement) Agreements with those who are either the subject of an Ethics Commission investigation or against whom a Complaint has been filed. Settlements allow these individuals to avoid the inconvenience and expense of a public hearing.
Conciliation Agreements may be entered into at any stage of an investigation or proceeding.
All Conciliation Agreements are subject to public disclosure. Copies of all agreements may be obtained by contacting the Ethics Commission.
The Ethics Commission may impose one or more of the following sanctions either subsequent to a public hearing on a Complaint or in a Conciliation Agreement:
1. Public reprimand;
2. Cease and desist order;
4. Fines not to exceed $5,000 per violation;
5. Reimbursement to the Commission for the actual costs of investigating and
prosecuting a violation.
The Commission also may recommend to the appropriate governmental body that a Complaint Respondent be terminated from employment or removed from office.