|Index of Opinions - 2006|
A former county attorney may represent a client with business before the county, but not on a specific matter in which the attorney participated significantly as an employee or acquired confidential information.
A contractor who offers to take county employees on a trip in connection with the contract is not offering the employees a gift since the expenses will actually be paid for by the county through the contract.
An employee may engage in secondary employment teaching classes in the general subject area of his expertise where his expertise was developed prior to accepting a position with the county and where the classes will have no connection to or relationship with the employee's county job.
You inquired whether an organization, acting on behalf of the county, may solicit sponsorships from a list of hundreds of potential donors to provide financial assistance for an annual event being held to promote a county program.
A qualified relative of an elected official may participate in the county's agricultural preservation program. The elected official may not participate in any matter involving the qualified relative's application.
An elected official may not accept free admission to an event from the sponsor of the event if it is a business marketing event and not a charitable, cultural, or political event, and if the value of the free admission exceeds $20 (where the donor is a lobbyist).
The spouse of a supervisor of inspectors may not work for clients who are subject to the authority of the supervisor or the supervisor’s department.
A zoning inspector may not engage in secondary employment as a realtor in the county.
Employees may not accept travel expenses from a vendor to visit the vendor’s facilities.
The ethics law does not prohibit a member of the Severn River Commission from running for state office. As an "official" rather than an employee, the member is not protected by the anti-Hatch act provisions, and there may be county charter or code provisions that would otherwise prohibit this political activity.
A member of the Board of Appeals may serve as a paid consultant to a candidate for the United States Congress.
A gift offered to the 25 employees of the administrative staff of an agency from a non-controlled donor, is not prohibited under either the gift or prestige of office provisions of the ethics law, because the value to each employee is nominal. However, once the overall value of the gift is considered, acceptance of the gift, which is offered because of the employees’ positions with the county, would violate the spirit of the ethics law.
Where the sponsor of a conference is a controlled donor, the offer of free registration to the conference, valued at $200, may not be accepted by an employee. Although the free registration offer has an element of chance, it is only offered to people with whom the sponsor does, or seeks to do business.
Since the county charter does not restrict the rights of members of the Board of Appeals to participate in political activity, a member of the board of appeals may hold a "meet the candidate" event for a candidate for county council. However, holding such an event may create the appearance of a conflict of interest.
A private attorney who is also a member of the ethics commission, may continue to serve on the commission while he represents a party in a lawsuit where the county is a named but not adversarial party.
Uniformed public safety employees may not accept a significant discount to attend a political event, when the discount was offered to them by a possibly controlled donor and where it was offered to a limited group of employees because of their positions with the county.
A council member may accept free admission to a charitable gala as a courtesy to the office, but may not participate either in a official or personal capacity as an honorary committee member hosting the event.
A private corporation affiliated with the county may accept an unsolicited donation that is designed to promote the mission of the corporation and that will not provide a personal benefit to any county employees or other people subject to the ethics law.
A council member who is the party’s candidate for reelection, may accept an offer from Comcast to appear in a five minute "Candidates on Demand" cable interview that is offered to all primary election winners, including incumbents. If Comcast retains editorial control over the interview, it cannot be considered a "gift". Even if the offer constitutes the offer of a gift, it would be a campaign contribution, not subject to the gift prohibitions of the ethics law. So, even though the offer was made while legislation affecting Comcast was pending, acceptance is not prohibited.
The decision to provide free office space to a private entity in a county facility if for the administration and not the ethics commission; however, certain ethical guidelines should be followed to ensure that there is no appearance of impropriety in the entity’s use of county resources.
The ethics law does not prohibit employees who adorn their private vehicles with campaign signs from parking their vehicles in county parking lots during the work day.
A civilian employee of the police department may apply for and hold a liquor license in another county.
An employee may accept reasonable travel expenses from a controlled donor to attend a conference where the employee will be a featured speaker on a panel.
A member of the Board of Appeals may serve as a member of the House of Delegates for an eight day under the limited circumstances described in the opinion.
The county executive may not accept free admission to an event sponsored by a chamber of commerce because it is not a cultural, charitable, or political event to which free admission may be accepted.
A county employee may not serve on the Board of Appeals, and a member of the Board of Appeals may be precluded from working for state government, depending on the position held in the state.