[Added 10-11-2011 by L.L. No. 56-2011]
Editor's Note: This local law also repealed former Art. XXX, Ethics Commission, added 9-28-1988 by L.L. No. 44-1988, as amended.
There is hereby established a Board of Ethics.
The Board of Ethics shall consist of five members. Two members will be appointed by the County Executive. The Presiding Officer, Majority Leader and Minority Leader of the Suffolk County Legislature will each appoint one member. The appointment of all members will be subject to approval by the County Legislature. The Board shall elect one of its members to serve as Chairperson.
No more than three members of the Board shall belong to the same political party. No person, while serving as a member of the Board, shall hold any public office, seek election to any public office, be a public employee in any jurisdiction, have business dealings with the County or any elected official, hold any political party office, appear as a lobbyist before the County or make a contribution to any County elected official or candidate for County office.
The two members appointed to the Board by the County Executive shall be appointed to initial terms of two years; the members appointed by the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader shall be appointed for initial terms of three years; the member appointed by the Presiding Officer shall be appointed for an initial term of four years. Thereafter, all members will be appointed for terms of four years.
Any vacancy occurring on the Board other than by expiration of a term shall be filled by nomination of a successor by the appropriate appointing authority within 60 days of the creation of the vacancy. The County Legislature shall act on such nomination within 60 days of an appointment resolution being laid on the table for consideration.
Three members of the Board shall constitute a quorum and the Board shall have the power to act by a majority vote of the entire membership of the Board except as otherwise provided by this article.
Members shall receive compensation of $200 for each Board meeting they attend; such compensation shall not exceed $4,800 per year. The Board shall meet at least once per month.
[Amended 11-18-2014 by L.L. No. 1-2015]
Members may be removed by their appointing authority for substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, inability to discharge the powers or duties of office or violation of the requirements of Subsection B of this section, after written notice and opportunity to reply. The removal of members appointed by the Presiding Officer, Majority Leader and Minority Leader must be ratified by the adoption of a procedural motion by the County Legislature.
The Board shall have the authority and responsibility to:
Provide ethics training and education to Suffolk County's public servants;
Render advisory opinions to Suffolk County's public servants on ethics and conflict of interest issues;
Conduct investigations and hearings to determine if ethics violations have occurred and to impose penalties as authorized by local law.
The Board, by a majority vote of the Board's entire membership, shall appoint an executive director, a secretary, independent counsel and such other staff as may be necessary to exercise its powers and fulfill its obligations. The power to appoint and retain an executive director, a secretary, independent counsel and other staff shall be subject only to available appropriations provided therefor in the County operating budget, and the actual appointment and filling of such positions shall not be subject to approval by the County Executive or the Budget Office. The Board shall be deemed the appointing authority for all such personnel. The executive director, a secretary, independent counsel and support staff shall not be part of the Suffolk County Department of Law and shall not be supervised by the Department of Law; however, the Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL") appeals officer in the Department of Law shall serve as the FOIL appeals officer for the Board of Ethics. The Board, its staff and funding shall be treated as a separate agency for purposes of presentation and adoption in the annual County operating budget.
[Amended 8-21-2012 by L.L. No. 45-2012; 4-25-2017 by L.L. No. 10-2017]
The Board may delegate authority to the executive director and independent counsel and such delegation shall be defined in writing, provided that the executive director and independent counsel shall not be authorized to issue written advisory opinions, promulgate rules, issue subpoenas, issue final determinations of violation or make final recommendations of, or impose, penalties.
The Board's office(s) shall not be sited in a building occupied by either the County Executive or the County Legislature.
[Added 8-21-2012 by L.L. No. 45-2012]
Any reference to the Suffolk County Ethics Commission, its members, chairman or executive director in any other resolution, local law, charter law, ordinance, rule, or regulation of the County of Suffolk or in any state or federal law, rule, or regulation shall be construed in the first instance as reference to the Board of Ethics, its members, chairperson or executive director, anything in any other law, rule or regulation to the contrary notwithstanding.
For calendar year 2012 only, the Board, by a supermajority vote of its total membership, may extend the deadline referenced in any local law, charter law, resolution, rule or regulation applicable to the Board to a date deemed appropriate by the Board; provided, however, that the deadline for filing financial disclosure statements may not be extended beyond December 31, 2012 and no other 2012 deadline may be extended beyond June 30, 2013.
All property and equipment heretofore associated with, and utilized by, the Ethics Commission but inventoried to the Law Department, and all other property, equipment and records and confidential files associated with, and utilized by, the Ethics Commission wherever situated, shall be transferred and delivered to the Board of Ethics. For purposes of this subdivision, records and confidential files shall be construed broadly to include, but not be limited to, financial disclosure forms, opinions, requests for opinions, budgets, procurement documents, contracts, vouchers, requisitions, records of accounts, if any, and correspondence, notes and documents in any form whatsoever created or used in the ordinary course of business of the Ethics Commission.
[Added 12-1-2020 by L.L. No. 52-2020]
All members of the Board shall receive a minimum of two hours of training annually on all applicable provisions of law relating to conflicts of interest and ethics at the federal, state, and County level which are necessary for the discharge of their duties. The training shall be provided by either the County Law Department or through an outside counsel/trainer selected via a competitive request for proposals.