Dorchester County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of County Commissioners of Dorchester County 5-15-2012 by Bill No. 2012-2.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Commissioners — See Ch. 10.
Treasurer — See Ch. 50.
Financial disclosure — See Ch. 95.
[1]
Editor’s Note: This bill also repealed former Ch. 88, Ethics, Code of, adopted 3-9-1982 by Ord. No. 76, as amended.

§ 88-1 Short title.

This chapter may be cited as the "Dorchester County Public Ethics Ordinance."

§ 88-2 Applicability.

The provisions of this chapter apply to all County elected officials, employees, and appointees to boards and commissions of Dorchester County, Maryland, except employees of the Dorchester County State's Attorney's office and employees of the Dorchester County Sheriff's office, which employees are covered by the state ethics law.

§ 88-3 Ethics Commission.

A. 
There is a Dorchester County Ethics Commission (the "Commission") that consists of five members. Each of the five County Council members shall appoint one member of the Commission. The members of the Commission shall serve for a term of four years, which term shall coincide with the term of the County Council, except that the appointment of the current members of the Commission shall expire with the current term of the County Council of Dorchester County, Maryland (the "County Council").
B. 
The Commission shall:
(1) 
Devise, receive, and maintain all forms required by this chapter;
(2) 
Develop procedures and policies for advisory opinion requests and provide published advisory opinions to persons subject to this chapter regarding the applicability of the provisions of this chapter to them;
(3) 
Develop procedures and policies for the processing of complaints to make appropriate determinations regarding complaints filed by any person alleging violations of this chapter; and
(4) 
Conduct a public information program regarding the purposes and application of this chapter.
C. 
Neither member of the Commission shall be removable from office except for good cause shown and proven. The members shall not be entitled to compensation but shall be entitled to reimbursement for reasonable expenses. The Commission's files and records shall be maintained by the County Manager. The Commission shall develop a budget and submit the same to the County Council for approval.
D. 
The Commission shall appoint independent counsel (herein "Counsel"). Counsel shall be an attorney that does not regularly practice law in Dorchester County, Maryland.
E. 
The Commission shall certify to the State Ethics Commission on or before October 1 of each year that Dorchester County, Maryland, is in is in compliance with the requirements of State Government Article, Title 15, Subtitle 8, Annotated Code of Maryland, for elected local officials.
F. 
The Commission shall determine if changes to this chapter are required to be in compliance with the requirements of State Government Article, Title 15, Subtitle 8, Annotated Code of Maryland, and shall forward any recommended changes and amendments to the County Council for consideration for enactment.
G. 
The Commission may adopt other policies and procedures to assist in the implementation of the Commission's programs established in this chapter.

§ 88-4 Conflicts of interest.

A. 
In this section, "qualified relative" means a spouse, parent, child, or sibling.
B. 
All County elected officials, officials appointed to County boards and commissions subject to this chapter, and employees are subject to this section, except employees of the Dorchester County State's Attorney's office and employees of the Dorchester County Sheriff's office, which employees are covered by the state ethics law.
C. 
Participation prohibitions.
(1) 
Except as permitted by Commission regulation or opinion, an official or employee may not participate in:
(a) 
Except in the exercise of an administrative or ministerial duty that does not affect the disposition or decision of the matter, any matter in which, to the knowledge of the official or employee, the official or employee, or a qualified relative of the official or employee has an interest.
(b) 
Except in the exercise of an administrative or ministerial duty that does not affect the disposition or decision with respect to the matter, any matter in which any of the following is a party:
[1] 
A business entity in which the official or employee has a direct financial interest of which the official or employee may reasonably be expected to know;
[2] 
A business entity for which the official, employee, or a qualified relative of the official or employee is an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee;
[3] 
A business entity with which the official or employee or, to the knowledge of the official or employee, a qualified relative is negotiating employment or has any arrangement concerning prospective employment.
[4] 
If the contract reasonably could be expected to result in a conflict between the private interests of the official or employee and the official duties of the official or employee, a business entity that is a party to an existing contract with the official or employee, or which, to the knowledge of the official or employee, is a party to a contract with a qualified relative;
[5] 
An entity, doing business with the County, in which a direct financial interest is owned by another entity in which the official or employee has a direct financial interest, if the official or employee may be reasonably expected to know of both direct financial interests; or
[6] 
A business entity that:
[a] 
The official or employee knows is a creditor or obligee of the official or employee or a qualified relative of the official or employee with respect to a thing of economic value; and
[b] 
As a creditor or obligee, is in a position to directly and substantially affect the interest of the official or employee or a qualified relative of the official or employee.
(2) 
A person who is disqualified from participating under Subsection C(1)(a) or (b) of this section shall disclose the nature and circumstances of the conflict and may participate or act if:
(a) 
The disqualification leaves a body with less than a quorum capable of acting;
(b) 
The disqualified official or employee is required by law to act; or
(c) 
The disqualified official or employee is the only person authorized to act.
(3) 
The prohibitions of Subsection C(1)(a) and (b) of this section do not apply if participation is allowed by regulation or opinion of the Commission.
D. 
Employment and financial interest restrictions.
(1) 
Except as permitted by regulation of the Commission when the interest is disclosed or when the employment does not create a conflict of interest or appearance of conflict, an official or employee may not:
(a) 
Be employed by or have a financial interest in any entity:
[1] 
Subject to the authority of the official or employee or the County agency, board, commission with which the official or employee is affiliated; or
[2] 
That is negotiating or has entered a contract with the agency, board, or commission with which the official or employee is affiliated; or
(b) 
Hold any other employment relationship that would impair the impartiality or independence of judgment of the official or employee.
(2) 
This prohibition does not apply to:
(a) 
An official or employee who is appointed to a regulatory or licensing authority pursuant to a statutory requirement that persons subject to the jurisdiction of the authority be represented in appointments to the authority;
(b) 
Subject to other provisions of law, a member of a board or commission in regard to a financial interest or employment held at the time of appointment, provided the financial interest or employment is publicly disclosed to the appointing authority and the Commission;
(c) 
An official or employee whose duties are ministerial, if the private employment or financial interest does not create a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest, as permitted by and in accordance with regulations adopted by the Commission; or
(d) 
Employment or financial interests allowed by regulation of the Commission if the employment does not create a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest or the financial interest is disclosed.
E. 
Post-employment limitations and restrictions.
(1) 
A former official or employee may not assist or represent any party other than the County for compensation in a case, contract, or other specific matter involving the County if that matter is one in which the former official or employee significantly participated as an official or employee.
(2) 
Until the conclusion of the next regular session that begins after the elected official leaves office, a former member of the County Council may not assist or represent another party for compensation in a matter that is the subject of legislative action.
F. 
Contingent compensation. Except in a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding, an official or employee may not assist or represent a party for contingent compensation in any matter before or involving the County.
G. 
Use of prestige of office.
(1) 
An official or employee may not intentionally use the prestige of office or public position for the private gain of that official or employee or the private gain of another.
(2) 
This subsection does not prohibit the performance of usual and customary constituent services by an elected local official without additional compensation.
H. 
Solicitation and acceptance of gifts.
(1) 
An official or employee may not solicit any gift.
(2) 
An official or employee may not directly solicit or facilitate the solicitation of a gift, on behalf of another person, from an individual regulated lobbyist.
(3) 
An official or employee may not knowingly accept a gift, directly or indirectly, from a person that the official or employee knows or has the reason to know:
(a) 
Is doing business with or seeking to do business with the County office, agency, board, or commission with which the official or employee is affiliated;
(b) 
Has financial interests that may be substantially and materially affected, in a manner distinguishable from the public generally, by the performance or nonperformance of the official duties of the official or employee;
(c) 
Is engaged in an activity regulated or controlled by the official's or employee's governmental unit; or
(d) 
Is a lobbyist with respect to matters within the jurisdiction of the official or employee.
(4) 
Subsection H(5) of this section does not apply to a gift:
(a) 
That would tend to impair the impartiality and the independence of judgment of the official or employee receiving the gift;
(b) 
Of significant value that would give the appearance of impairing the impartiality and independence of judgment of the official or employee; or
(c) 
Of significant value that the recipient official or employee believes or has reason to believe is designed to impair the impartiality and independence of judgment of the official or employee.
(5) 
Notwithstanding Subsection H(3) of this section, an official or employee may accept the following:
(a) 
Meals and beverages consumed in the presence of the donor or sponsoring entity;
(b) 
Ceremonial gifts or awards that have insignificant monetary value;
(c) 
Unsolicited gifts of nominal value that do not exceed $20 in cost or trivial items of informational value;
(d) 
Reasonable expenses for food, travel, lodging, and scheduled entertainment of the official or the employee at a meeting which is given in return for the participation of the official or employee in a panel or speaking engagement at the meeting;
(e) 
Gifts of tickets or free admission extended to an elected local official to attend a charitable, cultural, or political event, if the purpose of this gift or admission is a courtesy or ceremony extended to the elected official's office;
(f) 
A specific gift or class of gifts that the Commission exempts from the operation of this subsection upon a finding, in writing, that acceptance of the gift or class of gifts would not be detrimental to the impartial conduct of the business of the County and that the gift is purely personal and private in nature;
(g) 
Gifts from a person related to the official or employee by blood or marriage, or any other individual who is a member of the household of the official or employee; or
(h) 
Honoraria for speaking to or participating in a meeting, provided that the offering of the honorarium is in not related in any way to the official's or employee's official position.
I. 
Disclosure of confidential information. Other than in the discharge of official duties, an official or employee may not disclose or use confidential information, that the official or employee acquired by reason of the official's or employee's public position and that is not available to the public, for the economic benefit of the official or employee or that of another person.
J. 
Participation in procurement.
(1) 
An individual or a person that employs an individual who assists a County agency in the drafting of specifications, an invitation for bids, or a request for proposals for a procurement may not submit a bid or proposal for that procurement or assist or represent another person, directly or indirectly, who is submitting a bid or proposal for the procurement.
(2) 
The Commission may establish exemptions from the requirements of this section for providing descriptive literature, sole source procurements, and written comments solicited by the procuring agency.

§ 88-5 Avoidance of conflict of interests.

A. 
Nepotism.
(1) 
In order to avoid conflicts of interest or favorites, or appearances of same, County employees shall not supervise immediate family members.
(a) 
New employees shall not be hired into departments or units where they would supervise or work under the supervision of immediate family members.
(b) 
Current employees shall not be promoted, transferred, demoted, or assigned to positions that would cause a violation of this chapter.
(c) 
In the event two employees marry, the County shall retain the option of transferring (if possible) or terminating (if necessary and approved by the County Council) employees in order to prevent violation of this chapter.
(2) 
The County shall not have more than one department head positions filled by immediate family members.
(a) 
Immediate family shall mean spouse, parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent, or grandchild, including adoptive step- and half-relationships.
(b) 
This section shall apply to individuals who are engaged, cohabitating or otherwise involved in a relationship that could lead to a perception of favoritism in the workplace if one of them supervised the other.
(c) 
In the event department heads marry or become immediate family members, the County shall retain the option of demoting or terminating one or both of the department heads to prevent violation of this chapter.

§ 88-6 Financial disclosure by local elected officials and candidates to be local elected officials.

A. 
Applicability; disclosure statement.
(1) 
This section applies to all local elected officials and candidates to be local elected officials.
(2) 
Except as provided in Subsection B of this section, a local elected official or a candidate to be a local elected official shall file the financial disclosure statement required under this section:
(a) 
On a form provided by the Commission;
(b) 
Under oath or affirmation; and
(c) 
With the Commission.
(3) 
Deadlines for filing statements.
(a) 
An incumbent local elected official shall file a financial disclosure statement annually no later than April 30 of each year for the preceding calendar year.
(b) 
An individual who is appointed to fill a vacancy in an office for which a financial disclosure statement is required and who has not already filed a financial disclosure statement shall file a statement for the preceding calendar year within 30 days after appointment.
(c) 
After leaving office.
[1] 
An individual who, other than by reason of death, leaves an office for which a statement is required shall file a statement within 60 days after leaving the office.
[2] 
The statement shall cover:
[a] 
The calendar year immediately preceding the year in which the individual left office, unless a statement covering that year has already been filed by the individual; and
[b] 
The portion of the current calendar year during which the individual held the office.
B. 
Candidates to be local elected officials.
(1) 
Except for an official who has filed a financial disclosure statement under another provision of this section for the reporting period, a candidate to be an elected local official shall file under a financial disclosure statement each year beginning with the year in which the certificate of candidacy is filed through the year of the election.
(2) 
A candidate to be an elected local official shall file a statement required under this section:
(a) 
In the year the certificate of candidacy is filed, no later than the filing of the certificate of candidacy;
(b) 
In the year of the election, on or before the earlier of April 30 or the last day for the withdrawal of candidacy; and
(c) 
In all other years for which a statement is required, on or before April 30.
(3) 
A candidate to be an elected official:
(a) 
May file the statement required under this section of this chapter with the County Clerk or Board of Election Supervisors with the certificate of candidacy or with the Commission prior to filing the certificate of candidacy; and
(b) 
Shall file the statements required under this section with the Commission.
(4) 
If a candidate fails to file a statement required by this section after written notice is provided by the County Clerk or Board of Election Supervisors at least 20 days before the last day for the withdrawal of candidacy, the candidate is deemed to have withdrawn the candidacy.
(5) 
The County Clerk or Board of Election Supervisors may not accept any certificate of candidacy unless a statement has been filed in proper form.
(6) 
Within 30 days of the receipt of a statement required under this section, the County Clerk or Board of Election Supervisors shall forward the statement to the Commission or the office designated by the Commission.
C. 
Public record.
(1) 
The Commission or office designated by the Commission shall maintain all financial disclosure statements filed under this section.
(2) 
Financial disclosure statements shall be made available during normal office hours for examination and copying by the public subject to reasonable fees and administrative procedures established by the Commission.
(3) 
If an individual examines or copies a financial disclosure statement, the Commission or the office designated by the Commission shall record:
(a) 
The name and home address of the individual reviewing or copying the statement; and
(b) 
The name of the person whose financial disclosure statement was examined or copied.
(4) 
Upon request by the official or employee whose financial disclosure statement was examined or copied, the Commission or the office designated by the Commission shall provide the official with a copy of the name and home address of the person who reviewed the official's financial disclosure statement.
D. 
Retention requirements. The Commission or the office designated by the Commission shall retain financial disclosure statements for four years from the date of receipt.
E. 
Contents of statement.
(1) 
Interests in real property.
(a) 
A statement filed under this section shall include a schedule of all interests in real property wherever located.
(b) 
For each interest in real property, the schedule shall include:
[1] 
The nature of the property and the location by street address, mailing address, or legal description of the property;
[2] 
The nature and extent of the interest held, including any conditions and encumbrances on the interest;
[3] 
The date when, the manner in which, and the identity of the person from whom the interest was acquired;
[4] 
The nature and amount of the consideration given in exchange for the interest or, if acquired other than by purchase, the fair market value of the interest at the time acquired;
[5] 
If any interest was transferred, in whole or in part, at any time during the reporting period, a description of the interest transferred, the nature and amount of the consideration received for the interest, and the identity of the person to whom the interest was transferred; and
[6] 
The identity of any other person with an interest in the property.
(2) 
Interests in corporations and partnerships.
(a) 
A statement filed under this section shall include a schedule of all interests in any corporation, partnership, limited liability partnership, or limited liability corporation, regardless of whether the corporation or partnership does business with the County.
(b) 
For each interest reported under this subsection, the schedule shall include:
[1] 
The name and address of the principal office of the corporation, partnership, limited liability partnership, or limited liability corporation;
[2] 
The nature and amount of the interest held, including any conditions and encumbrances on the interest;
[3] 
With respect to any interest transferred, in whole or in part, at any time during the reporting period, a description of the interest transferred, the nature and amount of the consideration received for the interest, and, if known, the identity of the person to whom the interest was transferred; and
[4] 
With respect to any interest acquired during the reporting period:
[a] 
The date when, the manner in which, and the identity of the person from whom the interest was acquired; and
[b] 
The nature and the amount of the consideration given in exchange for the interest or, if acquired other than by purchase, the fair market value of the interest at the time acquired.
(c) 
An individual may satisfy the requirement to report the amount of the interest held under this subsection by reporting, instead of a dollar amount:
[1] 
For an equity interest in a corporation, the number of shares held and, unless the corporation's stock is publicly traded, the percentage of equity interest held; or
[2] 
For an equity interest in a partnership, the percentage of equity interest held.
(3) 
Interests in business entities doing business with the County.
(a) 
A statement filed under this section shall include a schedule of all interests in any business entity that does business with the County, other than interests reported under Subsection E(2) of this section.
(b) 
For each interest reported under this subsection, the schedule shall include:
[1] 
The name and address of the principal office of the business entity;
[2] 
The nature and amount of the interest held, including any conditions to and encumbrances in the interest;
[3] 
With respect to any interest transferred, in whole or in part, at any time during the reporting period, a description of the interest transferred, the nature and amount of the consideration received in exchange for the interest, and, if known, the identity of the person to whom the interest was transferred; and
[4] 
With respect to any interest acquired during the reporting period:
[a] 
The date when, the manner in which, and the identity of the person from whom the interest was acquired; and
[b] 
The nature and the amount of the consideration given in exchange for the interest or, if acquired other than by purchase, the fair market value of the interest at the time acquired.
(4) 
Gifts.
(a) 
A statement filed under this section shall include a schedule of each gift in excess of $20 in value or a series of gifts totaling $100 or more received during the reporting period from or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any one person who does business with or is regulated by the County.
(b) 
For each gift reported, the schedule shall include:
[1] 
A description of the nature and value of the gift; and
[2] 
The identity of the person from whom, or on behalf of whom, directly or indirectly, the gift was received.
(5) 
Employment with or interests in entities doing business with the County.
(a) 
A statement filed under this section shall include a schedule of all offices, directorships, and salaried employment by the individual or member of the immediate family of the individual held at any time during the reporting period with entities doing business with the County.
(b) 
For each position reported under this subsection, the schedule shall include:
[1] 
The name and address of the principal office of the business entity;
[2] 
The title and nature of the office, directorship, or salaried employment held and the date it commenced; and
[3] 
The name of each County agency with which the entity is involved.
(6) 
Indebtedness to entities doing business with County.
(a) 
A statement filed under this subsection shall include a schedule of all liabilities, excluding retail credit accounts, to persons doing business with the County owed at any time during the reporting period:
[1] 
By the individual; or
[2] 
By a member of the immediate family of the individual if the individual was involved in the transaction giving rise to the liability.
(b) 
For each liability reported under this subsection, the schedule shall include:
[1] 
The identity of the person to whom the liability was owed and the date the liability was incurred;
[2] 
The amount of the liability owed as of the end of the reporting period;
[3] 
The terms of payment of the liability and the extent to which the principal amount of the liability was increased or reduced during the year; and
[4] 
The security given, if any, for the liability.
(7) 
A statement filed under this section shall include a schedule of the immediate family members of the individual employed by the County in any capacity at any time during the reporting period.
(8) 
Sources of earned income.
(a) 
A statement filed under this section shall include a schedule of the name and address of each place of employment and of each business entity of which the individual or a member of the individual's immediate family was a sole or partial owner and from which the individual or member of the individual's immediate family received earned income, at any time during the reporting period.
(b) 
A minor child's employment or business ownership need not be disclosed if the agency that employs the individual does not regulate, exercise authority over, or contract with the place of employment or business entity of the minor child.
(9) 
A statement filed under this section may also include a schedule of additional interests or information that the individual making the statement wishes to disclose.
F. 
For the purposes of § 88-6G of this chapter, the following interests are considered to be the interests of the individual making the statement:
(1) 
An interest held by a member of the individual's immediate family, if the interest was, at any time during the reporting period, directly or indirectly controlled by the individual.
(2) 
An interest held by a business entity in which the individual held a 30% or greater interest at any time during the reporting period.
(3) 
An interest held by a trust or an estate in which, at any time during the reporting period:
(a) 
The individual held a reversionary interest or was a beneficiary; or
(b) 
If a revocable trust, the individual was a settlor.
G. 
The Commission shall review the financial disclosure statements submitted under this section for compliance with the provisions of this section and shall notify an individual submitting the statement of any omissions or deficiencies.
H. 
The County Ethics Commission may take appropriate enforcement action to ensure compliance with this section.

§ 88-7 Financial disclosure by employees and appointed officials.

A. 
This section only applies to the following appointed officials and employees:
(1) 
Director of Finance for Dorchester County, Maryland.
(2) 
Dorchester County Ethics Commission.
(3) 
Dorchester County Planning and Zoning Commission.
(4) 
Dorchester County Board of Zoning Appeals.
(5) 
Dorchester County Building Code Appeals Board.
(6) 
Dorchester County Agricultural Land Preservation Board.
(7) 
Dorchester County Agricultural Reconciliation Committee.
(8) 
Dorchester County Local Management Board.
(9) 
Dorchester County Seafood Reconciliation Committee.
(10) 
Dorchester County Electrical Examiners Board.
(11) 
Dorchester County Sanitary Commission.
(12) 
All other Dorchester County officials, employees and appointees drawing a County salary of $35,000 or more, annually, and that fall within the County budgetary process.
B. 
A statement filed under this section shall be filed with the Commission under oath or affirmation.
C. 
On or before April 30 of each year during which an official or employee holds office, an official or employee shall file a statement disclosing gifts received during the preceding calendar year from any person that contracts with or is regulated by the County, including the name of the donor of the gift and the approximate retail value at the time or receipt.
D. 
An official or employee shall disclose employment and interests that raise conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest in connection with a specific proposed action by the employee or official sufficiently in advance of the action to provide adequate disclosure to the public.
E. 
The Commission shall maintain all disclosure statements filed under this section as public records available for public inspection and copying as provided in § 88-6C of this chapter.

§ 88-8 Lobbying.

A. 
A person shall file a lobbying registration statement with the Commission if the person:
(1) 
Personally appears before a County official or employee with the intent to influence that person in performance of the official duties of the official or employee; and
(2) 
In connection with the intent to influence, expends or reasonably expects to expend in a given calendar year in excess of $100 on food, entertainment, or other gifts for officials or employees of the County.
B. 
A person shall file a registration statement required under this section on or before the later of January 15 of the calendar year or within five days after first performing an act that requires registration in the calendar year.
C. 
Registration statement.
(1) 
The registration statement shall identify:
(a) 
The registrant;
(b) 
Any other person on whose behalf the registrant acts; and
(c) 
The subject matter on which the registrant proposes to make appearances specified in Subsection A of this section.
(2) 
The registration statement shall cover a defined registration period not to exceed one calendar year.
D. 
Within 30 days after the end of any calendar year during which a person was registered under this section, the person shall file a report with the Commission disclosing:
(1) 
The value, date, and nature of any food, entertainment, or other gift provided to a County official or employee; and
(2) 
If a gift or series of gifts to a single official or employee exceeds $20 in value, the identity of the official or employee.
E. 
The Commission shall maintain the registrations and reports filed under this section as public records available for public inspection and copying for four years after receipt by the Commission.

§ 88-9 Exemptions and modifications.

The Commission may grant exemptions and modifications to the provisions of §§ 88-4 and 88-7 of this chapter to employees and to appointed members of Dorchester County Boards and Commissions, when the Commission finds that an exemption or modification would not be contrary to the purposes of this chapter, and the application of this chapter would:
A. 
Constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy; and
B. 
Significantly reduce the availability of qualified persons for public service.

§ 88-10 Enforcement.

A. 
The Commission may:
(1) 
Assess a late fee of $2 per day up to a maximum of $250 for a failure to timely file a financial disclosure statement required under § 88-6 or 88-7 of this chapter;
(2) 
Assess a late fee of $10 per day up to a maximum of $250 for a failure to file a timely lobbyist registration or lobbyist report required under § 88-8 of this chapter; and
(3) 
Issue a cease-and-desist order against any person found to be in violation of this chapter.
B. 
Finding of violation.
(1) 
Upon a finding of a violation of any provision of this chapter, the Commission may:
(a) 
Issue an order of compliance directing the respondent to cease and desist from the violation;
(b) 
Issue a reprimand; or
(c) 
Recommend to the appropriate authority other appropriate discipline of the respondent, including censure or removal if that discipline is authorized by law.
(2) 
If the Commission finds that a respondent has violated § 88-8 of this chapter, the Commission may:
(a) 
Require a respondent who is a registered lobbyist to file any additional reports or information that reasonably related to the information that is required under § 88-8 of this chapter;
(b) 
Impose a fine not exceeding $5,000 for each violation; and
(c) 
Suspend the registration of an individual registered lobbyist if the Commission finds that the lobbyist has knowingly and willfully violated § 88-8 of this chapter or has been convicted of a criminal offense arising from lobbying activities.
C. 
Petition for relief.
(1) 
Upon request by the Commission, the Attorney for the Commission may file a petition for injunctive or other relief in the Circuit Court of Dorchester County, Maryland, or in any other court having proper venue for the purpose of requiring compliance with the provisions of this chapter.
(2) 
The court.
(a) 
The court may:
[1] 
Issue an order to cease and desist from the violation;
[2] 
Except as provided in Subsection C(2)(b) of this section, void an official action taken by an official or employee with a conflict of interest prohibited by this chapter when the action arises from or concerns the subject matter of the conflict and if the legal action is brought within 90 days of the occurrence of the official action, if the court deems voiding the action to be in the best interest of the public; or
[3] 
Impose a fine of up to $5,000 for any violation of the provisions of this chapter, with each day upon which the violation occurs constituting a separate offense.
(b) 
A court may not void any official action appropriating public funds, levying taxes, or providing for the issuance of bonds, notes, or other evidences of public obligations.
D. 
In addition to any other enforcement provisions in this chapter, a person who the Commission or a court finds has violated this chapter:
(1) 
Is subject to termination or other disciplinary action; and
(2) 
May be suspended from receiving payment of salary or other compensation pending full compliance with the terms of an order of the Commission or a court.
E. 
A County official or employee found to have violated this chapter is subject to disciplinary or other appropriate personnel action, including removal from office, disciplinary action, suspension of salary, or other sanction.
F. 
Violation of § 88-8 of this chapter shall be a misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment of up to one year.
G. 
A finding of a violation of this chapter by the Commission is public information.