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Index to Ethics Commission Opinions - 2001

AO-01-41 Icon: PDf
A secretarial employee may accept a position with an entity that has a contract with the employee’s department even though the secondary employment would technically violate §3-105(b) of the Ethics Law.  Both jobs are ministerial in nature, and in the employee’s position within a county department, there is no interaction with the proposed secondary employer.  Where the facts of a particular situation indicate that there is no potential for a conflict of interest or even the appearance of a conflict of interest, the Ethics Commission may permit an exception to be made to allow the secondary employment.  This type of exception is permitted at the discretion of the Ethics Commission in numerous provisions of the Ethics Law, and is a necessary corollary where it is not expressly permitted by ordinance.


AO-01-58 Icon: PDf
The Public Ethics Law does not prohibit an attorney to the Board of License Commissioners from being appointed to the Charter Revision Commission.  Although the Liquor Board falls under the jurisdiction of the county for purposes of the Ethics Law, it is governed by state statute.  A charter revision will not materially affect the Liquor Board, and there are no apparent conflict of interest issues raised under the secondary employment provisions of §3-105(b). 


AO-01-83 Icon: PDf
Under §3-106(c)(5), an elected official may only accept a free ticket to a sky box for an Orioles game if the gift is given for the purpose of having the official take part in a ceremony involving the public office.  If the gift is given for the purpose of taking part in an official ceremony of office, the gift is given for a valid purpose - to promote the county and to acknowledge the county government’s interest in community affairs.  The gift is not given solely to benefit the elected official personally. 


AO-01-89 Icon: PDf
Section 3-106(a) prohibits a group of employees who form a team to participate in recreational sports from soliciting outside sponsorships from private entities.  The same employees would probably not be permitted to accept unsolicited sponsorships because of the limitations on the acceptance of gifts from controlled donors under §3-106(b) and because of the prohibitions on accepting personal gain derived as a result of the employee’s position in the county under §3-104(a).


AO-01-107 Icon: PDf
County Council members may tape interviews with the local cable franchisee to be aired on the Headline News channel if the interview is directed and controlled by the franchisee and not the Council members.  If the interviews had been planned and conducted while legislation affecting the franchisee was pending, the interviews would be problematic, as it would appear that they were designed to impair the impartial and independent judgment of the Council members. 


AO-01-136 Icon: PDf
Under §3-105, an employee may teach a class at a local college under the circumstances described in the opinion.  However, under §3-104(a), the employee may not use or permit the use by the college of the employee's official title in the college brochure advertising the class.


AO-01-142 Icon: PDf
A county department may not solicit gifts to give to employees as incentive awards for contributing to the county's charitable fundraisers.  Unsolicited gifts would be problematic for the same reasons suggested in AO-01-89.  A department may only offer a "day off" as an incentive award if the Chief Administrative Officer first approves it.  


IO-00-184 Icon: PDf
Under §3-105, a police officer who is in law school may work as an intern for a local lawyer, provided that the officer does not participate in any criminal law work or in any civil matters in which the county may have an interest.  The officer may not disclose any confidential information acquired on the job for use by the secondary employer.  The officer is still required to obtain the approval of the Police Department prior to engaging in this secondary employment.


IO-00-195 Icon: PDf
Members of the Board of License Commissioners may accept a one-time pass to a racetrack from the Race Track Office, a controlled donor, because the value of the gift overall, and to each recipient, is nominal.


IO-01-02 Icon: PDf
Police officers may teach specific police procedures to campus security officers at the Community College as secondary employment, with the approval of the Police Department, where the requisite knowledge of these procedures is generally available only from police officers.


IO-01-03 Icon: PDf
Under §3-102(b)(2)(ii), a member of the County Council may participate in zoning legislation where the member is the owner of an entity that had a prior contract with another entity that may acquire an interest in the affected property.


IO-01-07 Icon: PDf
Under §3-106(b) and (c), an employee may not accept a door prize in excess of a nominal value from a controlled donor, where the prize was offered to invited guests at a function held by the controlled donor.


IO-01-08 Icon: PDf
A Council member may not participate in the vote on a bill that will affect the pay schedules or work week schedule designations for certain Fire Department employees where the Council member’s relative is a career firefighter that may be affected by the legislation.


IO-01-11 Icon: PDf
An employee whose work is administrative and non-discretionary, may employ a title company that is doing business with the employee’s agency to assist in the refinancing of the employee’s residential mortgage.


IO-01-14 Icon: PDf
State law protects a county employee’s participation in political activity as long as the employee does not engage in the activity during work hours or on the job.


IO-01-15 Icon: PDf: County employees may charge an extra five cents on vending machine purchases to pay for employee activities, as long as they have the consent of the vendor.


IO-01-17 Icon: PDf
An agency may purchase the new edition of a book that was co-authored by the agency head, under the circumstances described in the opinion.


IO-01-23 Icon: PDf: Where the County Code expressly permits the donation of surplus county resources under the circumstances described, the Ethics Law will not prohibit it. 


IO-01-25 Icon: PDf
A County Council member may accept free tickets to a local sporting event from a controlled donor, where the event will include a ceremony of office featuring state and local officials, under the exception to the gift prohibitions in §3-106(c)(5).


IO-01-28 Icon: PDf
The supervisor of an employee may purchase services from that employee’s private business where the price offered to the supervisor by the employee is competitive with service providers in similar businesses.


IO-01-29 Icon: PDf
Under §3-104, an employee may not solicit donations for the employee's agency in exchange for providing free notary services to clients of the agency. The employee may offer free notary services for the convenience of the clients, even for matters unrelated to agency business, but may not accept payment from clients who use that service.


IO-01-31 Icon: PDf
Under §3-106, an employee may not accept travel expenses to attend a conference or other type of meeting from a controlled donor if the employee will not be a speaker at the conference or meeting.  Acceptance of the gift is also prohibited even if the donor is not a controlled donor, if the sponsors who pay for the costs of the conference are controlled donors.


IO-01-32 Icon: PDf
The Police Department may participate in the filming of a television program as long as in so doing, the department will not be endorsing a private entity.


IO-01-39 Icon: PDf
There is no inherent conflict of interest if an employee in the County Executive's Office accepts employment as an inspector with the Liquor Board.


A council member may participate in legislation affecting only volunteer firefighters since the legislation will not affect the member’s relative, a career firefighter.


IO-01-54 Icon: PDf
"Dependent child" as defined in §1-101(c), and for purposes of filing financial disclosure statements, means a child, of any age, who is listed as a dependent for federal income tax purposes.


IO-01-57 Icon: PDf
Under §3-104(c), an employee may not use the title of the employee’s county office in professional advertising for a secondary job. 


IO-01-62 Icon: PDf
Members of the County Council may participate in 30 second public service announcements with a cable franchisee after negotiations between the council and the franchisee have ended, since the brief messages would be considered gifts of nominal value under §3-106(c)(3).


IO-01-87 Icon: PDf
An employee may accept an expensive gift from a non-controlled donor, even though the employee and the donor became friends when the donor was subject to the authority of the employee and the employee's agency.  When the gift was offered, there was no official relationship between the donor and the employee. In the absence of evidence suggesting that the gift was offered in exchange for the performance of any official duty undertaken by the employee, acceptance of the gift is not prohibited.  §§3-104, 3-106.


IO-01-92 Icon: PDf
 Under §1-101(q), defining “lobbyist”, a lawyer representing an entity that seeks to amend the Solid Waste Management Plan, must register as a lobbyist for the type of activity described in this opinion.


IO-01-93 Icon: PDf
 Sections 3-104 and 3-105(b)(1) prohibit an employee of a county board and the employee's spouse from contracting with that employee's board through a private entity owned by the employee's spouse, where the employee participates in the operation of the entity’s business.


IO-01-96 Icon: PDf
An employee may sit on the board of directors of a non-profit organization that receives a grant from the state, in the circumstances described in this opinion, subject to other ethics rules relating to non-participation, use of confidential information, and other rules.


IO-01-105 Icon: PDf
Under §3-105(b), an employee may not assist the employee's spouse in office cleaning employment for an entity that is subject to the authority of the employee's agency, in the particular situation set forth in this opinion. 


IO-01-109 Icon: PDf
Employees may accept a discount offer from a commercial enterprise offered to all county employees, because the offer is in the nature of a marketing initiative and employees will be paying adequate consideration for the products purchased.  Under §3-104(a), the vendor may not have special access to county facilities or resources to promote the offer. 


IO-01-113 Icon: PDf
Where a rezoning bill will affect primarily two large parcels, a Council member who has an interest in one of the large parcels may not participate in the vote on the overall bill, but may participate as those portions of the bill that will not affect the Council member’s interest.  

IO-01-114 Icon: PDf
An employee may continue employment with the county while seeking election as the Mayor of Annapolis, but may not continue employment if elected. 
IO-01-116 Icon: PDf
A business offering a discount to all employees on the purchase of cell phones, may not use county facilities to promote its offer, unless the same facilities are available under the same terms and conditions to other businesses.
IO-01-117 Icon: PDf
Under §3-105, a member of the county Board of Appeals may sit on a state task force as long as the county has no legal interest in the outcome of the task force's recommendations.  Under §3-101, the board member should refrain from participating in any matter before the board involving people or matters affiliated with the duties of the task force.
IO-01-118 Icon: PDf
A Combination Inspector for the county may engage in secondary employment as a home inspector since the employee’s department neither regulates nor controls the home inspection business.  However, the inspector may not work for any entity that is subject to the authority of the employee’s department, and the inspector may not inspect any projects where a county inspection is also required.
IO-01-124 Icon: PDf
A private nonprofit entity, created to support a county agency, should not be permitted to use the agency's official logo, or a logo appearing to be the official logo, in its letterhead.  Printed material used by the private entity for fund raising may not include the names or titles of any employees, and employees may not be coerced, directly, or indirectly, into participating in, or volunteering to help out with, the fund raising event.  An employee may accept the proceeds of a 50/50-raffle prize because it is not the gift of a controlled donor, and an employee may also accept prizes awarded for specific achievements.  §3-104.
IO-01-125 Icon: PDf
The Ethics Law does not prohibit a member of a political committee from serving on the Salary Standards Commission.
IO-01-127 Icon: PDf
The Ethics Law does not prohibit a department from holding a 50/50 raffle to help defray the costs of a department event.
IO-01-137 Icon: PDf
A county worker who has a close social relationship with a controlled donor may accept gifts from that person in the circumstances described, since the county worker has no official interaction with the controlled donor.  The gifts appear to be personal and private in nature according to §3-106(c)(6).  However, to avoid even the appearance of a conflict the employee’s supervisor should be notified of the relationship. 
IO-01-140 Icon: PDf
Under §3-106(c)(5), the representative of a County Council member may attend a charitable event with the member's free ticket, if the member will be volunteering at the event and will not be needing the ticket.
IO-01-146 Icon: PDf
It is permissible constituent service for a Council member to provide copies of a petition to circulate among citizens requesting the federal government to pass certain legislation. 
IO-01-149 Icon: PDf
Under §3-105(c)(1), an employee in the legislative branch may not serve on a Small Area Planning Committee. 
IO-01-162 Icon: PDf
Under §3-105(c)(1), a person appointed to the Salary Standard Commission may not also serve as a lobbyist in matters within the jurisdiction of the County Council. 

IO-01-165 Icon PDF
Public safety employees may not accept a discount that is offered only to public safety employees where the discount is of significant value.



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