Town of Bethel, CT
Fairfield County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Bethel 9-19-1994, effective 10-28-1994. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Procedures and conduct of officers and employees — See Charter, Art. IX.
Officers and employees — See Ch. 15.
Personnel rules and regulations — See Ch. 19.

§ 8-1 Establishment.

There is hereby established, pursuant to § C9-2 of the Town Charter, a Code of Ethics for all Town officers, employees and officials, whether elected or appointed, paid or unpaid, including members and employees of the Board of Education. The purpose of this code is to establish suitable ethical standards for such officers, employees and officials by prohibiting acts or actions incompatible with the discharge of their public duties and the best interests of the Town of Bethel and by directing disclosure of private financial interest or personal interest in matters affecting the Town by such officers, employees and officials.

§ 8-2 Definitions.

As used in this code, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
AGENCY
Includes a board, agency, commission, department or other entity of the Town of Bethel.
EMPLOYEE
All employees of the Town of Bethel, Board of Education and all governmental bodies created under the provisions of the Town Charter and all other Town ordinances and applicable statutes.
FINANCIAL INTERESTS
Any financial interest, direct or indirect, which is of more value than $50, to the Town official or employee and which is not common to the interest of other citizens of the Town. "Financial interest" shall include the private financial interest of the immediate family of an official or employee of the Town. "Financial interest" shall also include the interest of any subcontractor in any prime contract with the Town and the interest of any person or his immediate family in any corporation, firm or partnership, which has a direct or indirect interest in any transaction with the Town. Transaction shall include the offer, sale or furnishing of any real or personal property, material, supplies or services by any person, directly or indirectly, as vendor, prime contractor, subcontractor or otherwise, for the use and benefit of the Town for a valuable consideration.
IMMEDIATE FAMILY
Includes any spouse, children, parents, siblings, spouse's parents, spouse's children and dependent relatives who reside in the individual's household.
INDIVIDUAL
A natural person.
OFFICIALS
All elected and appointed officials and officers, whether paid or unpaid, and members of all governmental bodies created under the provisions of the Town Charter and all other Town ordinances and applicable statutes.
PERSON
Includes associations, firms, partnerships and bodies politic and corporate as well as individuals.
PROBABLE CAUSE
More than suspicion; there must be facts and circumstances brought to the attention of the Ethics Commission, which is trustworthy information, sufficient to justify the belief of a reasonable person that a violation of the code has transpired.

§ 8-3 Prohibited acts.

A. 
The following actions shall be deemed to constitute unfaithfulness to the duties of public office and unsuitability to the requirements of public service and shall constitute sufficient cause for action by the Ethics Commission hereunder:
(1) 
No Town officer or employee shall represent interests other than his own, spouse's or minor childrens' in any matter whatsoever affecting his board, agency, department or commission.
(2) 
No Town officer or employee shall willfully and knowingly disclose, to any other person, confidential information acquired by him in the course of and by reason of his official duties or employment.
(3) 
No Town officer or employee or candidate for public office shall solicit or accept anything of value, including but not limited to a gift, loan, political contribution, reward or promise of future employment, based on any understanding that the vote, official action or judgment of the public officer or employee or candidate for public office would be or had been influenced thereby; except that nothing shall be construed to limit the right of any officer or employee to engage in a normal commercial transaction which is in no way related to or conflicts with the interests of the Town.
(4) 
No Town officer or employee shall engage in or accept private employment or render service, for private interest, when such employment or service is incompatible with the proper discharge of his official duties or would tend to impair his independence of judgment or action in the performance of his official duties.
(5) 
No Town officer or employee shall request or permit the unauthorized use of Town-owned vehicles, equipment, materials or property for personal convenience or profit.
(6) 
No Town officer or employee shall grant any special consideration, treatment or advantage to any citizen beyond that which is available to every other citizen.
(7) 
No Town officer or employee shall fail to comply with § C9-3 of the Town Charter.
B. 
The above list of practices is not exhaustive, and the Board of Selectmen may, in its discretion, define by ordinance additional prohibited practices.

§ 8-4 Ethics Commission established; composition.

A. 
The Ethics Commission shall consist of five members who shall be electors of the Town of Bethel. The members of the Commission shall serve for terms of three years, except the initial terms shall be as follows: two for one year, one for two years, and two for three years, commencing with the creation of the Commission. Terms shall commence on the first Monday of January of each year in accordance with the terms of the Town Charter.
B. 
All members shall be electors of the Town and be appointed by a two-thirds majority vote of the Board of Selectmen. No member or employee of such Commission shall:
(1) 
Hold or campaign for any public office.
(2) 
Have held public office for a one-year period prior to appointment.
(3) 
Hold office in any political party or political committee or any organization or association organized primarily for the purpose of influencing legislation or decisions of public agencies.

§ 8-5 Advisory opinions.

Upon written request by any officer or employee concerned, the Ethics Commission shall render written advisory opinions based upon the provisions of § C9-3 of the Town Charter and this chapter. The Ethics Commission shall file its advisory opinions with the Town Clerk, but shall delete references to the identity of the officer, employee or other party involved where such disclosure would constitute an invasion of personal privacy.

§ 8-6 Complaint procedures.

A. 
Upon the sworn complaint, on a form prescribed by the Ethics Commission, signed under penalty of false statement, of any person, or upon its own complaint, alleging facts which if true would constitute improper conduct under § C9-3 of the Town Charter or this chapter, the Ethics Commission shall, after meeting and determining that there is sufficient evidence to warrant such inquiry, conduct an investigation of the alleged violation.
B. 
The Ethics Commission shall, not later than five business days after receipt or issuance of such complaint, notify by registered or certified mail any officer or employee against whom such complaint is filed, and a copy of such complaint shall accompany such notice. The Ethics Commission shall also notify the complainant of its receipt of such complaint not later than five business days thereafter.
C. 
Any investigation to determine whether or not there is probable cause that a violation of Town Charter § C9-3 or this chapter has occurred shall be concluded within 60 days of the initiation of any complaint hereunder.
D. 
An investigation to determine whether or not there is probable cause that a violation of Town Charter § C9-3 or this chapter has occurred shall be conducted in private unless the officer or employee elects to have it in public.
E. 
All proceedings shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act of the State of Connecticut.
F. 
The officer or employee involved shall have the right to appear and be heard and to offer any information which may tend to clear him of probable cause indicating that he has violated any provision of Town Charter § C9-3 or this chapter. The officer or employee involved shall also have the right to be represented by legal counsel and examine and cross-examine witnesses.
G. 
The Ethics Commission shall make no finding that there is probable cause to believe that the officer or employee involved is in violation of any provision of Town Charter § C9-3 or this chapter except upon the concurring vote of four of its members.
H. 
The Ethics Commission shall, not later than three business days after the termination of such investigation, notify the complainant and the officer or employee involved that the investigation has been terminated and the results thereof. Within three business days following the termination of any investigation hereunder, the Ethics Commission shall, in written findings of facts and conclusions based thereon, make recommendations to the Board of Selectmen concerning the propriety of the conduct involved. In the event that the alleged improper conduct involves a member of the Board of Selectmen, then such findings, inclusions and recommendations shall be made to the remaining members of the Board of Selectmen.

§ 8-7 Action by Board of Selectmen.

Upon receipt of a report from the Ethics Commission of a finding of probable cause that an officer or employee of the Town has violated any provision of Town Charter § C9-3 or this chapter, the officer or employee shall be given the opportunity to be heard by the Board of Selectmen and apprised of the charges pending against him. All proceedings shall be conducted in private unless the officer or employee elects to have them in public. All proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Any such office holder or employee may, if desired, be represented by counsel and may meet the charges with witnesses and evidence. No Town officer or employee may be removed from office or employment or otherwise penalized by a vote of the Board of Selectmen except for cause.

§ 8-8 Cooperation of Town boards; power to administer oaths.

The Ethics Commission shall have the cooperation of all boards, departments, commissions, agencies, officers and employees in the performance of its duties hereunder. The Commission shall be authorized to obtain the assistance of the Police Department of the Town of Bethel in pursuing any investigation hereunder. For purposes of investigation, the Ethics Commission shall have the power to administer oaths, compel attendance of witnesses and require the production of books and papers.

§ 8-9 Provisions to personnel rules and regulations.

The provisions hereof shall be subject to any provisions of Chapter 19, Personnel Rules and Regulations, and to any provision of any collective bargaining agreement applicable to the employee or officer involved and particularly to any grievances procedure made available to such employee or officer.

§ 8-10 Violations and penalties.

A. 
Any Town officer or employee who violates § C9-3 of the Town Charter or this chapter may, after notice and investigation, upon the advice and recommendation of the Ethics Commission, be subject to the following penalties as may be determined by the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Bethel by a vote not less than 2/3 of all members of the Board:
(1) 
A fine not to exceed $100;
(2) 
Forfeiture of such office or position;
(3) 
The voidance of any purchase, contract or order made in contravention of Town Charter § C9-3; and/or
(4) 
A written or oral reprimand.
B. 
The above penalties shall be recommendations of the Board of Selectmen in the event that the Board of Selectmen does not have the authority to impose the penalty; in such case the recommendations shall be made to the agency, board or commission having such authority.
C. 
Any person who refuses to obey the subpoena of the Ethics Commission shall be fined not more than $100.

§ 8-11 Power to discipline not affected.

The provisions hereof shall not limit the power of agencies, boards or commissions to discipline their officers or employees and not limit the power of other Town offices to discipline subordinates.