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2014 Ethics Opinions



The members of the Severn River Commission are no longer included in the definition of employees covered by the ethics law.  Since the ethics law no longer applies to them, the ethics commission cannot provide advice concerning the application of the ethics law to the members of the SRC. 



An employee may not accept a gift or gratuity in excess of $20 from a contractor who is seeking to do business with the county, specifically involving a facility managed by that employee.


An employee may work in an official capacity writing a periodic column for a local newspaper, subject to the employee's supervisor's approval, as long as the employee is not compensated and does not endorse any products or service providers.



Coworkers may buy and sell from each other as long as the activity is not related to county business and as long as the transactions are not done on county time or in the work place.


Employees may not sell goods or services, or raise money for charitable causes during work hours or in county facilities, unless the charitable activity is expressly approved by the county executive.


An exception to the prohibition on holding certain financial interests is granted for an employee whose spouse is a principal owner of an entity doing business with the employee's agency, under the specific circumstances described in the opinion.  


Members of the county council may not accept an invitation from a lobbyist to a party if the cost per person exceeds $25 or if the donor has currently pending business with the council.    


The prestige of office provision of §7-5-107(a) prohibits the Anne Arundel Commission on Disabilities Issues from hosting a candidates' forum and prohibits the use of county facilities, resources, or employees in support of this event.

Firefighters may solicit funds for the "Fill the Boot" charitable drive if the activity is approved by the county executive, subject to the conditions set forth in the opinion.


While a county employee may be employed by a private entity that does business with the county (unless that business involves the employee's own agency), the employee may not bid, negotiate or otherwise represent or assist that agency before any government agency or in any matter in which the county government has an interest.


Employees of a county agency may not accept a gift of a day trip to New York City to visit the the vendor's facility because the gift, including bus fare and lunch, exceeds the maximum value of permissible gifts under the ethics law.  


An employee may join the advisory board of a for-profit entity but only in the employee's personal capacity.  The employee may not use the title of the employee's position or any credentials acquired solely through county service. 


Employees may not accept an invitation to dinner with a lobbyist if the value of the meal exceeds $25 per person.


A battalion chief in the fire department may serve, if appointed, on the school board, but may not participate in the development, consideration or adoption of the school board budget and may not advocate on school board issues before any county employee or agency, according to §7-5-104 of the ethics law.


Employees who attended an event as part of their job duties, may not accept airline ticket vouchers worth $100 each given at the event. Those vouchers may only be accepted on behalf of the county, for the benefit of the citizens and not individual employees.


The ethics law, §7-7- 105(b)(2)(vii), requires lobbyists to disclose the cost of an event to which one or more county employees were invited, even if none of the employees attend the event.
A former member of a county commission may engage in lobbying and related work immediately upon terminating employment with the county, provided that the former commissioner may not lobby or otherwise work on any matter in which the commissioner substantially participated while working for the county.  

An employee with the county school-age child care program may engage in outside employment teaching workshops to pre-school child care providers, subject to the limitations described in the opinion. 


A member of the county council may be prohibited from participating in certain legislative actions that may affect the salary or other conditions of employment of that member's spouse, but since every advisory opinion depends upon the specific facts of the inquiry and the specific legislation that is involved, the ethics commission is unable to provide more than generalized guidance on the recusal requirements of the ethics law.  
Employees may accept a gift card worth $50 to be shared among 12 employees, since the value of the gift is within the "minimum standards of conduct" imposed by the ethics law; employees may certainly hold themselves to a higher standard in deciding whether to accept gifts from donors who do business with their agencies.





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