Ethics Matters News

PROGRESS WITH FINANCIAL DISCLOSUE AND THE HR CODE
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Although there remain major problems with the County’s new ethics law and the numerous questionable provisions that the State Ethics Commission has not yet approved, Ethics Matters is pleased to report that two of our recent concerns (below) have been addressed. Another positive development is that at their last meeting, the Queen Anne’s County Ethics Commission unanimously voted to have a public comment period at the beginning and end of each meeting.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT><U><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Financial Disclosure Forms</SPAN></FONT></U></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><U><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"></SPAN></FONT></U><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">The changes in the financial disclosure form that Ethics Matters suggested were approved and put in place by the Ethics Commission. The Ethics Commission voted to send the new forms out by registered mail with a cover letter making sure the recipients were aware of their obligation to return the completed forms by April 10. <o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">There are others besides the specified current officials and employees who must complete the financial disclosure form:</SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">      </SPAN></FONT><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Candidates for <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">County</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Commissioner</st1:PlaceName></st1:place> must file the financial form simultaneously with their registration for candidacy with the Board of Elections.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">      Any official or employee who leaves an office that requires financial disclosure must file, within 30 days after the departure date, the financial form that includes all information up to the date of departure.           <o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">      Any person newly appointed to an office that requires financial disclosure must file, with his/her acceptance, the financial disclosure form containing all the necessary information for the previous year. </SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"></SPAN></FONT><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">The Board of Elections is now giving out the financial disclosure forms to candidates along with the other necessary information for filing.  Ethics Matters will be looking into whether those who vacate an office or are appointed to an office requiring financial disclosure are aware of and are following the law.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT><U><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Human Resources Code � Conflicts of Interest<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></U></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">The County Commissioners amended the unacceptable provision of  the proposed Human Resources Code to make it clear that the “employee’s appointing authority” has no jurisdiction over determining whether outside employment presents a financial conflict of interest with County employment.  Such a determination is the responsibility of the independent Ethics Commission.<U> </U></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">March 21, 2006</SPAN></FONT></P>
Posted on 21 Mar 2006
CONTINUING PROBLEMS WITH OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST
<P>Ethics Matters is finding that it needs to watch all County ethics-related legislation carefully. Our most recent concern is an ill-considered amendment to the Human Resources Code regarding conflicts of interest and outside employment. </P>
<P>This amendment would give an employee’s appointing authority the power to determine whether the employee’s outside employment conflicts with his/her County service. But determining employment conflicts of interest is, according to the QAC Code, the power and duty of the Ethics Commission. This is as it should be. Decisions regarding an employee’s conflicts of interest should not be made by the employee’s boss, but by an independent Ethics Commission that has no stake in the decision and is guided by the principles and precedents of the Ethics Code. </P>
<P>This amendment is not the first time there has been troublesome legislation proposed or enacted regarding conflicts of interest and outside employment. </P>
<P>1. The Ethics Code, proposed by the County Commissioners in May 2005, completely eliminated the prohibition against employees “olding an outside employment or contractual relationship that would affect or reasonably appear to affect their impartiality or independence of judgment.” This provision had been in the old 1984 code and was in the code proposed by the Ethics Commission. It is required by the State of Maryland. The State Ethics Commission made the County put this provision back into the QAC Ethics Code. </P>
<P>2. In the Amended Ethics Code passed November 2005, the Ethics Commission was given the power to exempt part-time officials and employees, whose outside employment did not create a conflict of interest, from having to comply with any provision of the Ethics Code (such as limitations on gifts, prohibitions of ownership conflicts, required financial disclosure). Ethics Matters believes that the State Ethics Commission will have problems with such sweeping and easily obtained exemptions. </P>
<P>3. Now, there is the proposed amendment to the Human Resources Code (discussed above) that gives an employee’s appointing authority (as opposed to the Ethics Commission) the power to determine whether there is a conflict of interest resulting from the employee’s outside employment. </P>
<P>February 21, 2006</P>
Posted on 21 Feb 2006
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE

<p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 18pt; text-align: justify;"><b><font color="#333333" face="Arial" size="3"><span style="font-weight: bold; font-size: 12pt; text-transform: uppercase; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial;"><font style="font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;" size="2">County distributes obsolete financial disclosure forms</font><o:p></o:p></span></font></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 18pt; text-align: justify;"><font color="#333333" face="Arial" size="3"><span style="font-size: 12pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial;">            Last week the County distributed financial disclosure forms to be completed and filed by January 31.  For some reason, the County used the financial disclosure form that went with the repealed 1984 ethics law. <o:p></o:p></span></font></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 18pt; text-align: justify;"><font color="#333333" face="Arial" size="3"><span style="font-size: 12pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial;">            This form falls far short of implementing the financial disclosure requirements of the new law.  It only asks for gifts received.  It does not ask about property owned or business interests held, as required by the new ethics law.  (The minimal financial disclosure requirement of QAC’s 1984 ethics law was one of the reasons that law was the weakest in the State) <o:p></o:p></span></font></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 18pt; text-align: justify;"><font color="#333333" face="Arial" size="3"><span style="font-size: 12pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial;">            Not implementing the new ethics law’s requirements is tantamount to granting a blanket exemption to County officials and employees from the law’s financial disclosure requirements.  This is plainly unlawful.<o:p></o:p></span></font></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 18pt; text-align: justify;"><font color="#333333" face="Arial" size="3"><span style="font-size: 12pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial;">              Ethics Matters has asked the County to tell us who made the decision not to implement the requirements of the County’s ethics law and the reasoning behind the decision.  We will share their response with you.<o:p></o:p></span></font></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 18pt; text-align: justify;"><font color="#333333" face="Arial" size="3"><span style="font-size: 12pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial;"><o:p> </o:p></span></font></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 18pt; text-align: justify;"><b><font color="#333333" face="Arial" size="3"><span style="font-weight: bold; font-size: 12pt; text-transform: uppercase; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial;"><font size="2">Publishing company takes blame for discrepancies</font><o:p></o:p></span></font></b></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 18pt; text-align: justify;"><font color="#333333" face="Arial" size="3"><span style="font-size: 12pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial;">            The company that publishes the County code, General Code, has taken full responsibility for the textual differences between the Ethics Code as passed on Nov. 15, 2005 and as published as part of the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placetype w:st="on">County</st1:placetype> <st1:placename w:st="on">Code</st1:placename></st1:place>.  The company has promised to produce a corrected version.<o:p></o:p></span></font></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 18pt; text-align: justify;"><font color="#333333" face="Arial" size="3"><span style="font-size: 12pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial;">      It is good that this situation has been straightened out.  General Code, which encoded all the County’s laws last year, should not be making textual changes in the law without first securing County approval.  The County should consider whether or not it should continue to use this company, and it should examine whether other County laws may have been improperly altered by General Code</span></font></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 18pt; text-align: justify;"><font color="#333333" face="Arial" size="3"><span style="font-size: 12pt; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial;">January 12, 2006</span></font></p>
Posted on 03 Feb 2006
UPDATE ON THE DISTRIBUTION OF OBSOLETE FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE FORMS
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">On January 12, Ethics Matters asked the County to explain why they distributed the obsolete financial disclosure form based on the repealed 1984 ethics law instead of a disclosure form that incorporates the more demanding reporting requirements of the current law (adopted Nov. 15, 2005). <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">The Counsel to the Ethics Commission responded:</SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"></SPAN></FONT><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT><FONT face="Courier New" size=2><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: 'Courier New'">“The old forms are being distributed now for the 2005 year to report on the activities for 2005.  They are being distributed to those who were required to report for 2005.  The Report is done after the year passes.</SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Courier New" size=2><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: 'Courier New'"></SPAN></FONT><FONT face="Courier New" size=2><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: 'Courier New'">“You cannot hold people responsible for regulations that were not in effect.  I am not sure why you believe there is not compliance.”<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">The County should realize that is explanation is not satisfactory.  There is a big difference between, on one hand, holding people responsible for <U>violations</U> of a law that was not in effect (which would not be right) and, on the other hand, requiring people to meet the <U>reporting requirements</U> of the current law.  The ethics law requires that by January 31 of each year, certain decision-making government officials and employees must file a financial disclosure form based on interests held during the previous year. Those who apply for these government positions or run for elected office are required to file the same financial disclosure form based on information from the prior year along with their job application or their registration as a candidate.  There is no reason why these requirements of the current law, the one that is now in effect, should not be adhered to.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Ethics Matters’ attorneys Stephen Sachs and Avery Aisenstark contacted Patrick Thompson, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">County</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Attorney</st1:PlaceName></st1:place>, and Lynn Knight, Counsel to the Ethics Commission, expressing Ethics Matters’ distress that the County issued obsolete reporting forms instead of the form required by the ethics law.  Mr. Sachs also wrote Mr. Thompson stating Ethics Matters’ belief that using a reporting form appropriate to the new law is legally required. <o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Commissioners Koval and Ransom expressed to Ethics Matters their surprise at the issuance of the obsolete financial disclosure forms.  At their meeting on January 17, the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">County</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Commissioners</st1:PlaceName></st1:place> voted to ask County Attorney Patrick Thompson for an opinion as to which form should be used. It is our understanding that as of today, January 19, the <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">County</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Commissioners</st1:PlaceName>’ request for an opinion has not been transmitted to the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">County</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Attorney</st1:PlaceName></st1:place>.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Ethics Matters will continue to follow this matter closely.  These reporting forms are a cornerstone of ethical governance.  They give assurance that government officials and employees are acting in behalf of the citizens and not for personal financial gain.  They provide accountability and build trust. The County needs to act in a lawful manner and meet the requirements of the ethics law.</SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt">January 19,2006<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
Posted on 19 Jan 2006
PROBLEMS WITH THE NEW ETHICS LAW
<P class=MsoNormal><B><FONT face=Arial size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">THE NEW ETHICS LAW:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></B></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face=Arial size=2><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">The new Ethics Code was adopted November 15, 2005 and became effective December 30, 2005.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face=Arial size=2><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT><FONT face=Arial size=2><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">There are a number of provisions in the new law that we believe are unlawful � that is, they will not be approved by the State Ethics Commission because they do not meet the standard for county ethics laws that is required by State law.  See Commentary on this website for a list of the provisions we believe do not meet the State standard.  There are other worrisome provisions, as well.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face=Arial size=2><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT><B><FONT face=Arial size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">OF IMMEDIATE CONCERN:<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></B></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face=Arial size=2><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">A month after the County had adopted the ethics law, it still had not sent the new law to the State for approval. (It is common practice to send a draft of an ethics code to the State before voting on it to make sure it meets the State requirements.)  Concerned that the County Ethics Commission would be put in the position of administering a law with unlawful provisions, Ethics Matters sent the State Ethics Commission a copy of the law.  In the process of copying the law from the County code, we noticed that there was a discrepancy between the text of the law as adopted and the law as it appears in the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">County</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Code</st1:PlaceName></st1:place>. The discrepancy is in the exemptions section, a section we were already questioning because of the last minute insertion of an over-broad provision allowing exemptions for the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">County</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Commissioners</st1:PlaceName></st1:place> and members of Boards and Commissions.  The altered text made exemptions to the Conflicts of Interest, Financial Disclosure and Gifts requirements even easier to obtain, and we were alarmed.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal><FONT face=Arial size=2><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT><FONT face=Arial size=2><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Printed below is Ethics Matters’ statement of concern about the exemption provision at Press and Public Comment on January 3.  </SPAN></FONT><FONT face=Arial size=2><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT></P>
<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0pt; MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1in; TEXT-ALIGN: center; mso-margin-top-alt: 0in" align=center><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">STATEMENT OF ETHICS MATTERS TO THE <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">COUNTY</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">COMMISSIONERS</st1:PlaceName></st1:place> JANUARY 3, 2006<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></B></P>
<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0pt; MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1in; TEXT-ALIGN: justify; mso-margin-top-alt: 0in"><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT></B><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">We told you earlier there are unlawful provisions in the new ethics law.  These provisions do not meet the State’s minimum requirements for County ethics codes.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></B></P>
<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0pt; MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1in; TEXT-ALIGN: justify; mso-margin-top-alt: 0in"><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Tonight I want to share two specific concerns we have about the new law.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></B></P>
<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0pt; MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1in; TEXT-ALIGN: justify; mso-margin-top-alt: 0in"><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT></B><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">First, a special exemption provision in your law permits the Ethics Commission to grant exemptions to you five and to part-time members of Boards and Commissions.  Exemptions can be had solely by establishing that your regular employment does not conflict with your official duties.  Thus, for example, an insurance agent, a doctor, or a retired person serving on the Planning Commission can be excused from disclosing lands held, interests in local development companies, or gifts received from developers.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></B></P>
<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0pt; MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1in; TEXT-ALIGN: justify; mso-margin-top-alt: 0in"><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT></B><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">The provision that permits such exemptions is surely unlawful under State law.  The <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">County</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Ethics</st1:PlaceName></st1:place> Commission may soon be receiving requests for exemptions from the ethics code, especially from its financial disclosure requirements.  What is our Ethics Commission supposed to do?  Should they administer an unlawful provision?<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></B></P>
<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0pt; MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1in; TEXT-ALIGN: justify; mso-margin-top-alt: 0in"><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT></B><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Our second concern.  The exemption provision in the new ethics law as it is published in the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">County</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Code</st1:PlaceName></st1:place> has been altered.  It is different from, and broader than, the exemption provision in the law you passed on November 15.  You can see the differences by looking at the two versions on the County website.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></B></P>
<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0pt; MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1in; TEXT-ALIGN: justify; mso-margin-top-alt: 0in"><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT></B><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">The altered exemption provision in the County Code makes it even easier � much easier-- for not just for you and members of Boards and Commissions � but for <U>any</U> County official or employee to gain an ethics exemption.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></B></P>
<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0pt; MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1in; TEXT-ALIGN: justify; mso-margin-top-alt: 0in"><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT></B><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">Citizens pay for county government with their tax money.  They are entitled to the assurance that decisions made by their government are made in their behalf and not for personal financial gain.  It is a betrayal of citizens and the vast majority of government employees to undermine the County’s ethics law with easy-to-get, unlawful exemptions.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></B></P>
<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0pt; MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1in; TEXT-ALIGN: justify; mso-margin-top-alt: 0in"><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT></B><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">You should fix this ugly situation by amending the exemption provision on an emergency basis.  You should adopt the exemption provision that is standard in other <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:State w:st="on">Maryland</st1:State></st1:place> counties, in the State, and was, in fact, in all earlier versions the County’s new ethics law.<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></B></P>
<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0pt; MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1in; TEXT-ALIGN: justify; mso-margin-top-alt: 0in"><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt"><o:p> </o:p></SPAN></FONT></B><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">And, please, find out who improperly altered the ethics law.  The ethics law as adopted and the ethics law in the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">County</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Code</st1:PlaceName></st1:place> should be the same. The citizens are due an explanation.</SPAN></FONT></B></P>
<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0pt; MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; MARGIN-RIGHT: 1in; TEXT-ALIGN: justify; mso-margin-top-alt: 0in"><B><FONT face="Times New Roman" size=3><SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt">January 5, 2006<o:p></o:p></SPAN></FONT></B></P>
Posted on 05 Jan 2006
FORMER ETHICS COMMISSIONERS LAUNCH CITIZENS ETHICS GROUP

Three former members of the QAC Ethics Commission have joined with other County citizens to launch a volunteer group to promote ethical, accountable governance in Queen Anne’s County.  The new organization, Ethics Matters, Inc., is a member of the CHARACTER COUNTS!SM Coalition and will be advised by former Maryland Attorney General Stephen Sachs.<br><br>
Read more �
Posted on 17 Nov 2005
Ethics Matters comments on the revised proposed ethics code at Press and Public Comment at the QAC C
I am here this evening as a volunteer with a new citizens organization, Ethics Matters.  The mission of Ethics Matters is to promote understanding of ethical governance. <br><br>We look forward to serving the cause of ethical government for Queen Anne’s County.<br><br>Our current 1984 County’s Ethics Code is the weakest in the State.  You have now prepared another proposed revision, after your first revision was not approved by the State Ethics Commission.  Underlying these revisions is the ethics code proposed over a year ago by the County Ethics Commission and introduced by Commissioner Koval -- a code that the State Ethics Commission indicated it would approve.<br><br><br>

Read more �
Posted on 15 Nov 2005

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