Index to Ethics Commission Opinions - 1996
A building inspector in PACE and an engineer in the Permit Application Center may accept secondary employment to perform structural inspections for a company which provides warranties to homebuilders provided that no inspections can be done in Anne Arundel County or for anyone who is building or planning to build in Anne Arundel County. In the case of the inspector, the warranty company does not provide warranties in Anne Arundel County that would be subject to the authority of the employee's county agency. Other restrictions, set forth in the opinions, may apply.
The lobbying registration exemption under §5-101(a)(8), for "activities undertaken by an employee in connection with the employee's official duties, and not on behalf of any other entity," applies only to county employees performing their official duties.
An employee may not market or provide his business services (i.e. instructional material designed to help employees achieve promotions) for a fee or for free to co-workers under his supervision. §§3-104(a) and 3-105(b)(2).
The solicitation of sponsors and the sale of tee signs for a "County Employee Golf Outing" would violate §3-106, which prohibits county employees from soliciting gifts from any business or organization, whether or not it does business or has a contractual relationship with the county. Additionally, §3-104, which prohibits the use of the prestige, title or authority of the employee's office or position for the employee's gain, or the gain of another, would bar the use of the county seal or the County Executive as honorary chairman. This provision does not prohibit county employees from participating in charitable events in a purely personal capacity.
An attorney who represents clients with disputes against the School Board may not serve on the Planning Advisory Board because §3-105 prohibits an employee from representing a person in any matter in which the county has an interest. Since the county has an interest in the school budget, representing clients whose interests may affect that budget is not permitted.
The payment of fees to a private attorney retained by the County Executive to investigate alleged misconduct in the enactment of legislation establishing the Appointed and Elected Official's Pension Plan did not violate the Ethics Laws under the circumstances set forth in the opinion, and since the attorney was not a county employee, the attorney’s subsequent representation of private plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging that legislation did not violate the Ethics Law. §§1-101(f), 3-109.
The attorney to the Board of License Commissioners of Anne Arundel County is an employee subject to the provisions of the Ethics Laws. Those laws would permit the attorney to serve on the campaign finance committee as long as the employee would ensure that the committee would not solicit or receive any gift, whether monetary, or in kind, from any person or corporation engaged in the manufacture or sale of beer or other alcoholic beverages, or from any licensee, or potential licensee. The employee would further have to avoid using the prestige of his position in any activities on behalf of the committee.
A county official may participate on the Board of Trustees of a private entity provided that the official's name and title may not appear on any solicitation for funds; the official does not participate in any fund raising solicitation, officially, or personally, that targets any individuals or groups that are subject to his authority or the authority of the official’s agency or have any contractual relationship with the county; the official should avoid knowledge of the sources of the organization's contributions; and should refrain from participating in the financial decisions of the organization. §3-104(a)
Unless the volunteer activity of a county official tends to create a competing or conflicting interest with the official’s county employment, the official's participation on the Community College Foundation Board would not constitute an "employment relationship that would impair the impartiality or independent judgment of the employee". The Foundation is not subject to the authority of the County, nor has it entered into any contractual arrangement with the county, so the activity of the official would not be barred by §3-105(a). However, the county official may not use his title in connection with fund raising, or participate in fund raising that targets specific donors or any persons or entities subject to the authority of or doing business with the county.
An employee Polygraph Examiner may not conduct polygraph examinations through a private business in any case where there is an ongoing criminal investigation, or where there is a reasonable likelihood of a future criminal investigation in Anne Arundel County. The employee may not use any connection to the Police Department in any advertising, soliciting, or listing of credentials, or in any other way to promote the outside business, and the employee may not use confidential information acquired on the job, to benefit the private business. §3-101, §3-104, §3-105(b)(1) and (b)(2), §3-107