[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Morris 12-30-1969 by Ord. No. 33-69; amended in its entirety 11-6-1991 by Ord. No. 35-91 (Ch. 10 of the 1969 Code). Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The public judges its government by the way public officials and employees conduct themselves in the posts to which they are elected or appointed. The people have a right to expect that every public official and employee will conduct himself or herself in a manner that will tend to preserve public confidence in and respect for the government he or she represents. Such confidence and respect can best be promoted if every public official and employee, whether paid or unpaid, and whether elected or appointed, will uniformly:
To help public officials and employees achieve these goals is one of the objectives of this chapter.
The other objective is based on the proposition that no person can serve two masters, nor should one attempt to do so. Therefore, this chapter proposes to relieve a person of the impossible task of judging oneself. Instead, this chapter places judgment in the hands of an impartial Municipal Ethics Board, which will review the facts and measure them by the yardstick of public morality established by this chapter.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Local Finance Board in the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs.
- BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
- Any corporation, partnership, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust, sole proprietorship, union or other legal entity.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Township Committee of the Township of Morris.
- The ownership or control of more than 10% of the profits, assets or stock of a business organization, but shall not include the control of assets in a nonprofit entity or labor union.
- LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY
- Any agency, board, governing body (including the chief executive officer), bureau, division, office, commission or other instrumentality within a county or municipality, and any independent local authority, including any entity created by more than one county or municipality, which performs functions other than of a purely advisory nature but shall not include a school board.
- LOCAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE
- Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time, employed by or serving on a local government agency who is not a local government officer, but shall not mean any employee of a school district.
- LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICER
- Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time:
- A. Elected to any office of a local government agency.
- B. Serving on a local government agency which has the authority to enact ordinances, approve development applications or grant zoning variances.
- C. Who is a member of an independent municipal, county or regional authority.
- D. Who is a managerial executive or confidential employee of a local government agency, as defined in Section 3 of the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act, P.L. 1941, c. 100 (N.J.S.A. 34:13A-3), but shall not mean any employee of a school district or member of a school board.
- LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE
- A local government officer or a local government employee.
- MEMBER OF IMMEDIATE FAMILY
- The spouse or dependent child of a local government officer or employee residing in the same household.
The Township of Morris does hereby adopt the following Code of Ethics for all local government officers and employees:
No local government officer or employee or member of his or her immediate family shall have an interest in a business organization or engage in any business, transaction or professional activity which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest.
Independent authorities; business organizations.
No independent local authority shall, for a period of one year next subsequent to the termination of office of a member of that authority:
Award any contract which is not publicly bid to a former member of that authority.
Allow a former member of that authority to represent, appear for or negotiate on behalf of any other party before that authority.
Employ for compensation, except pursuant to open competitive examination in accordance with Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes and the rules and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, any former member of that authority.
The restrictions contained in this subsection shall also apply to any business organization in which the former authority member holds an interest.
No local government officer or employee shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself or others.
No local government officer or employee shall act in an official capacity in any matter where he or she, a member of the immediate family or a business organization in which he or she has an interest has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair objectivity or independence of judgment.
No local government officer or employee shall undertake any employment or service, whether compensated or not, which might reasonably be expected to prejudice his or her independence of judgment in the exercise of his or her official duties.
No local government officer or employee, member of the immediate family or business organization in which he or she has an interest shall solicit or accept any gift, favor, loan, political contribution, service, promise of future employment or other thing of value based upon an understanding that the gift, favor, loan, contribution, service, promise or other thing of value was given or offered for the purpose of influencing him or her directly or indirectly in the discharge of official duties. This provision shall not apply to the solicitation or acceptance of contributions to the campaign of an announced candidate for elective public office if the local government officer has no knowledge or reason to believe that the campaign contribution, if accepted, was given with the intent to influence the local government officer in the discharge of his or her official duties.
No local government officer or employee shall use, or allow to be used, his or her public office or employment or any information not generally available to the members of the public which he or she receives or acquires in the course of and by reason of office or employment for the purpose of securing financial gain for himself or herself, any member of his or her immediate family or any business organization with which he or she is associated.
No local government officer or employee or business organization in which he or she has an interest shall represent any person or party, other than the local government, in connection with any cause, proceeding, application or other matter pending before any agency in the local government in which he or she serves. This provision shall not be deemed to prohibit one local government employee from representing another local government employee where the local government agency is the employer and the representation is within the context of official labor union or similar representational responsibilities.
No local government officer shall be deemed in conflict with these provisions if, by reason of his or her participation in the enactment of any ordinance, resolution or other matter required to be voted upon or which is subject to executive approval or veto, no material or monetary gain accrues to him or her as a member of any business, profession, occupation or group to any greater extent than any gain could reasonably be expected to accrue to any other member of such business, profession, occupation or group.
No elected local government officer shall be prohibited from making an inquiry for information on behalf of a constituent if no fee, reward or other thing of value is promised to, given to or accepted by the officer or a member of the immediate family, whether directly or indirectly, in return therefor.
Nothing shall prohibit any local government officer or employee or members of the immediate family from representing himself, herself or themselves in negotiations or proceedings concerning his, her or their own interests.
On or before April 30 of each year, the local government officer shall annually file a financial disclosure statement on the form prescribed by the Local Finance Board in the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs. The original of such form shall be filed with the Morris Township Clerk and a copy forwarded to the Local Finance Board, with an additional copy retained by the Municipal Ethics Board. All financial disclosure statements filed shall be public records.
There is hereby created and established a Board of Ethics consisting of six persons who shall hold no other office or employment under the municipality. No more than three members of the Ethics Board shall be of the same political party. At least one of said members shall be an attorney at law of the State of New Jersey. All members shall be residents of the Township of Morris.
The members shall be appointed by the Mayor of the Township of Morris subject to confirmation by a majority of the whole number of the governing body. They shall serve for terms of five years; provided, however, that as to those first appointed hereunder, two shall have terms expiring in five years, one shall have a term expiring in four years and three shall be appointed for terms of three years. Vacancies shall be filled for unexpired terms. The governing body shall provide the Ethics Board with offices for the conduct of its business, preservation of its records and equipment and supplies as necessary. The members shall serve without compensation; however, all necessary expenses incurred by the Ethics Board and its members shall be paid, upon certification of the Chairperson, by the Municipal Treasurer.
The members shall elect a Chairperson annually. The Board shall adopt rules for the conduct of the Board's business. The Board shall have the power to employ independent legal counsel, stenographic and clerical help.
Powers. The Municipal Ethics Board shall have the following powers:
To initiate, receive, hear and review complaints and hold hearings with regard to possible violations of the Municipal Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the municipality.
To issue subpoenas for the production of documents and the attendance of witnesses with respect to its investigation of any complaint or to the holding of a hearing.
To forward to the County Prosecutor or the Attorney General or other governmental body any information concerning violations of the Municipal Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the municipality which may become the subject of criminal prosecution or which may warrant the institution of other legal proceedings by the Attorney General.
To render advisory opinions to local government officers or employees serving the municipality as to whether a given set of facts and circumstances would constitute a violation of any provision of the Municipal Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements.
To enforce the provisions of the Municipal Code of Ethics and financial disclosure requirements with regard to local government officers or employees serving the municipality and to impose penalties for the violation thereof as are authorized by this chapter.
To adopt rules and regulations and to do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.
Hearings. The Municipal Ethics Board, upon receipt of a signed written complaint by any person alleging that the conduct of any local government officer or employee serving the municipality is in conflict with the Municipal Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements, shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 30 days of receipt and initiate an investigation concerning the facts and circumstances set forth in the complaint. The Ethics Board shall make a determination as to whether the complaint is within its jurisdiction or frivolous or without any reasonable factual basis. If the Ethics Board shall conclude that the complaint is outside its jurisdiction, frivolous or without factual basis, it shall reduce that conclusion to writing and shall transmit a copy thereof to the complainant and to the local government officer or employee against whom the complaint was filed. Otherwise, the Ethics Board shall notify the local government officer or employee against whom the complaint was filed of the nature of the complaint and the facts and circumstances set forth therein. The officer or employee shall have the opportunity to present the Ethics Board with any statement or information concerning the complaint which he wishes. Thereafter, if the Ethics Board determines that a reasonable doubt exists as to whether the local government officer or employee is in conflict with the Municipal Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements, it shall conduct a hearing in the manner prescribed by Section 12 of P.L. 1991, Chapter 29, concerning the possible violation and any other facts and circumstances which may have come to its attention with respect to the conduct of the local government officer or employee. The Ethics Board shall render a decision as to whether the conduct of the officer or employee is in conflict with the Municipal Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements. This decision shall be made by no less than 2/3 of all members of the Ethics Board.
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.12.
If the Ethics Board determines that the officer or employee is in conflict with the code or any financial disclosure requirements, it may impose any penalties which it believes appropriate within the limitations of P.L. 1991, Chapter 29. A final decision of the Ethics Board may be appealed to the Finance Board within 30 days of the decision.
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.
All statements, complaints, requests or other written materials filed pursuant to this chapter and any rulings, opinions, judgments, transcripts or other official papers prepared pursuant to this chapter shall be preserved for a period of at least five years from the date of filing or preparation, as the case may be.