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Index to Ethics Commission Opinions - 2003

AO-02-151 Icon: PDf
The Legislative Counsel to the County Council did not violate the Ethics Law by serving as an expert witness in a lawsuit to which the county was not a party.  Although the witness expressed an opinion that was in direct opposition to the position taken by the county, the county had no legal interest in the legal issues under consideration.  §3-104(a), §3-105(c)(1), and §3-109.

 

IO-03-01 Icon: PDf
Employees of the Soil Conservation District are not covered by the Ethics Law.  §1-101(f).

   

IO-03-05 Icon: PDf
A County Council member may not participate in legislative activity on a bill that will affect the member’s spouse who is a public safety employee, since the bill will affect only public safety employees.  Although the legislation is required by a charter amendment, the council will exercise considerable discretion in designing the terms of the legislation (revising an earlier version). §3-102(b)(2).

   

IO-03-08 Icon: PDf
With the express approval of the County Executive, the county may permit the use of the Arundel Center lobby to promote a charitable event that will benefit county citizens. §3-104(a).

      

IO-03-12 Icon: PDf
A County Council member may not vote on binding arbitration legislation that will affect public safety employees’ unions, where that member’s uncle is the president of one of those unions.  §3-102(b)(2)(iv).

     

IO-03-14 Icon: PDf
There is no conflict of interest involved where a County Council member participates in legislation affecting the Purchasing Office where the member’s cousin is the county’s Purchasing Agent.  §1-101(t).

     

IO-03-15 Icon: PDf
Employees may accept discount coupons from a local retailer in appreciation for their extraordinary snow removal efforts since the coupons are a one-time only discount and the value is negligible ($2.50).  §3-104(a).

   

IO-03-19 Icon: PDf
The Ethics Law does not prohibit an employee from using a county computer for homework assignments where the class is work-related and paid for by the county.

       

IO-03-20 Icon: PDf
Employees of the Fire Marshal’s Office may accept free registration to a seminar being held by a controlled donor, since the registration fee covers only the cost of breakfast and lunch, and is of a nominal value.  §3-106(c).

    

IO-03-21 Icon: PDf
An employee may contract with another county agency in this case where there is no inter-agency connection or involvement and where there is little or no opportunity for adversarial or competitive interests.  §3-105.

    

IO-03-23 Icon: PDf
An employee may accept a door prize from a controlled donor that is awarded in a contest open to the public, but if the employee uses his county business card, any prize worth more than a nominal value ($25) belongs to the county.  §3-106, §3-104(a).

      

IO-03-26 Icon: PDf
A Council member may accept a ticket to a horse race from a controlled donor if there will be a ceremony involving the office at the event.  The member may accept lunch from the donor under the exception for occasional meals and beverages of modest value.  An employee may only use official stationary for a job reference if that reference is made in an official capacity, and not for a friend outside the county work place.  §3-106, §3-104(a).

        

IO-03-27 Icon: PDf
An employee may not accept a scholarship from a controlled donor to attend a conference sponsored by controlled donors, unless the employee will be a featured speaker at the conference.  §§3-106(c).

         

IO-03-30 Icon: PDf
Two paramedics may not accept banquet tickets worth $65 each from a controlled donor, offered in appreciation of services rendered.  The value of meals and beverages given by controlled donors may not exceed $25 per person.  Even if the donor is not a controlled donor, a gift given for job performance may not exceed $25.  §3-106, §3-104(a).

   

IO-03-31 Icon: PDf
A department may solicit gifts to be given to citizens as prizes, as part of an agency program, if the solicitation is approved by the County Executive, and if the solicitation does not target specific controlled donors.  §3-106(a).

     

IO-03-32 Icon: PDf
A part-time employee of the Sheriff’s Office may be appointed to serve as an inspector on the Liquor Board as long as the Sheriff’s Office has no role in enforcing the liquor laws.  §3-105.

        

IO-03-34/36 Icon: PDf
County Council members who have relatives in the affected bargaining units, may not participate in legislative activity concerning employee contributions to health care benefits, or that will cut longevity and merit pay increases.  §3-102.

    

IO-03-35 Icon: PDf
A County Council member may represent clients in criminal cases in the county because the county is not a party to the case.  §3-105(c)(1).

      

IO-03-49 Icon: PDf
An employee may serve as a fund raising ambassador for a private organization and solicit funds on its behalf as long as the employee does not solicit funds directly from any entity that is subject to regulation by the employee’s agency. §3-106(a).

      

IO-03-50 Icon: PDf
A Council member may vote on the budget bill where the member’s spouse is a teacher, as long as the member does not participate in that portion of the education budget that may affect salary and other conditions of employment of teachers. §3-102(b)(2)(iv).

     

IO-03-53 Icon: PDf
An entity which employs a Council member, may continue to offer gifts to the county, and the county may continue to accept the gifts, where the gifts help to carry out a legitimate county purpose or program and where the gifts benefit the citizens and not individual employees.

       

IO-03-55 Icon: PDf
An employee in the Recreation and Parks Department may participate in the Agricultural Preservation Program that is administered by that agency, where the employee works on the “Recreation” side of the department and the program is administered on the “Parks” side of the program.  §3-105(b)(1).

        

IO-03-57 Icon: PDf
A Council member may serve on the operating board of a non-profit organization, where the organization is not an entity doing business with the county.  The council member may not participate in any official matters concerning the organization.  §3-105, 3-104(a).

       

IO-03-63 Icon: PDf
Employees may accept meal and lodging expenses from a contractor with their agency as part of the contract in order to test the contractor’s product, but the employees may not participate in the conference on behalf of the contractor, or otherwise endorse or advertise for the contractor.  §3-106, §3-104(a).

       

IO-03-64 Icon: PDf
An elected official who puts that official’s name on a sign announcing the boundary line of the county does not violate the Ethics Law.

       

IO-03-65 Icon: PDf
Members of an advisory board may not accept lunch from a controlled donor while negotiations between the board and the donor are pending.  §3-106(c).

    

IO-03-80 Icon: PDf
The Animal Control Agency may accept a gift from a local business entity that will promote the county’s programs and purposes.

       

IO-03-82 Icon: PDf
A firefighter may accept secondary employment with a local accident reconstruction and investigation firm to consult regarding an accident that occurred in Florida.  The firm does no business with the county, is not regulated by the county, and is involved in no matters in which the county has an interest.  §3-105.

     

IO-03-85 Icon: PDf
A member of the PAB may not represent a client before the Board of Appeals, because the county may have an adversarial interest in the matter and because of the close connection between the PAB and the Planning and Zoning Office.  §3-105(c).

    

IO-03-86 Icon: PDf
A member of the PAB who is also the president of a community association, may not participate in a matter before the PAB that involves that community.  §3-105(b)(2).

      

IO-03-87 Icon: PDf
An employee may not accept a $125 restaurant gift certificate from a grateful citizen, nor may the employee donate the certificate to the county.  In order to donate a gift, an employee must first accept the gift.  §3-104(a).

       

IO-03-91 Icon: PDf
An agency may only solicit donations to a specific charity and may only use county resources to undertake the solicitation if the County Executive has approved the effort as part of an official county program.  §3-104(a).

  

IO-03-93 Icon: PDf
An elected official may accept two tickets to the annual Anne Arundel Community College Foundation Gala from the trustees of the Foundation, as an exception to the gift prohibition for tickets to charitable events for elected officials.  §3-106(c)(5).

      

IO-03-94 Icon: PDf
A Council member may not participate in legislation that will determine whether an arbitrator may consider issues of retirement and other benefits for public safety employees where the member’s spouse has an interest in the legislation.  §5-111(a)(1)(I)(Bill 38-03, effective November 5, 2003).

      
IO-03-106 Icon: PDf
A 20% discount on wellness classes offered by a local hospital to all county employees may be accepted under the circumstances and subject to the criteria described in the opinion. 
 

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Anne Arundel County, Maryland. 44 Calvert Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21401 | Tele: (410) 222-7000