|Ethics Opinions for 2009|
A department may solicit sponsorships only with the approval of the county executive and subject to certain rules designed to avoid any appearance of impropriety. An employee may serve on a board of a private "Friends" organization in an ex officio type of capacity, subject to certain limitations.
A council member may not accept free lodging on a trip from a lobbyist or an entity that has legislation pending before the county council.
A fire department employee who entered a national contest in a purely personal capacity, and was selected as a finalist, may permit the sponsor to use the employee's photo in uniform and other details of the employee's position with the county to identify and describe the employee. The employee may not use official county channels to solicit votes in order to be selected as the grand prize winner.
The department of aging and disabilities may participate, with private entities, in the publication of an informational directory, as long as the department utilizes a disclaimer to avoid the appearance of endorsing the products or services of the private entities.
A council member may participate in legislative actions involving a lobbyist with whom the member, along with several other people, purchased baseball season tickets.
A forester with the department of inspections and permits may serve on the board of a private land trust organization, subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the opinion.
Fire fighters may accept a gift from a charitable organization to receive "detoxification treatment" in this unique situation because the funding is available only to this class of employees and is not designed to impair the impartial or independent judgment of the firefighters in the conduct of county business.
A council member, whose spouse is a career firefighter, may participate in legislation that will not presently affect the interests of the spouse or the council member. However, participation in the legislation, which grants a tax credit on real property of disabled public safety workers, creates a reasonable appearance of a conflict of interest.
There are no ethics issues raised where the spouse of an employee enters into a contract with the employee's department, where the contract is wholly unrelated to the employee's duties and where the employee has no financial interest in, or employment relationship with the spouse's business.
An appointee in the county executive's office may serve on the board of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitor's Bureau in an official capacity under the circumstances, and subject to the limitations set forth in the advisory opinion.
Section 7-5-107(a), the "prestige of office" provision prohibits the county executive from endorsing a private charitable fundraising activity that does not serve any public agency program and where it does not constitute "usual and customary constituent services.
The ethics law does not prohibit an employee from accepting a visit to the county workplace (with free giveaways) from a radio personality as part of the station's regular programming. The donor is not a controlled donor, and the gift was not offered because of the employee's position with the county.
A council member generally may not participate in legislative activity affecting the housing commission if the member's parent is a commissioner, but in appropriate circumstances the ethics commission may suspend the disqualification.
A member of the Planning Advisory Board may accept a position, whether compensated or uncompensated, with a partisan political organization, subject to certain limitations on permitted activity for that organization.
A division chief in the fire department may engage in secondary employment as a consultant to ICMA, subject to the limitations set forth in the opinion.
A candidate for appointment to the county council, may, if selected, participate in slots legislation where the candidate's church hired the same lobbyist (for unrelated zoning matters) who was hired by an entity with an interest in the outcome of the slots legislation.
A member of the county council, who has a financial relationship with a potential bidder on property that is the subject of pending legislation, is not prohibited from participating in the selection of a new council member who will be voting on the legislation.