[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Newtown 10-6-1975 (Reg. No. 2); amended 2-5-1976; 4-8-1976; 5-4-1978. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
Code of Ethics — See Ch. 27.
The Board of Ethics shall be composed of six resident electors, and at no time shall more than three members be of the same political party. The First Selectman, with the approval of the Board of Selectmen, shall appoint all members to the Board. Upon the expiration of the term of any member of the Board or in the event a vacancy exists on the Board, the First Selectman, with the approval of the Board of Selectmen, shall appoint a new member to fill the vacancy. All appointments shall be for a term of four years. In no event may any member of the Board serve on said Board for a period of more than eight years in succession. Any member having served for eight years in succession shall be ineligible for reappointment to the Board for a period of four years after he or she last served on the Board of Ethics. Each member shall serve until his or her successor has been appointed. Any member anticipating resignation from the Board shall, whenever possible, give notice of such resignation 30 calendar days in advance of the effective date of such resignation.
[Amended 8-22-2007 by Ord. No. 90]
The First Selectman may not appoint an elector to the Board of Ethics who has been a Town employee or official of the Town in any capacity within three years prior to the date of appointment. Any such appointment shall be void.
[Amended 8-22-2007 by Ord. No. 90]
Should a member of the Board of Ethics be elected or appointed to be an official of the Town or be hired as an employee of the Town, he or she shall resign from the Board immediately upon such election, appointment or hiring.
The officers of the Board shall be a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman.
The Chairman shall preside at meetings and public hearings. The Vice-Chairman shall perform the duties of the Chairman in the event of the Chairman's absence, death, resignation or inability to act for any other reason.
The members of the Board shall elect a new officer to replace an officer whose term has expired, or a majority of four votes suffices to call for the election of a new officer or officers. A majority of four votes is required to elect a new officer or officers.
The Board of Ethics shall employ a clerk whose responsibility is the taking of minutes at all meetings, typing and filing same, and performing all other clerical and stenographic services for the Board.
The continued presence of four members shall be required to conduct the Board's internal administrative affairs. The continued presence of four members shall be required to consider, hear and act upon any phase of any complaint, investigation or request for an advisory opinion concerning the application of the Code of Ethics to any particular case.
A simple majority of members present is sufficient to decide matters of the Board's internal administration or other nonsubstantive business. A majority of four votes is required to decide matters of substance. Determination of whether a matter is substantive, i.e., requiring a majority of four votes, is the prerogative of the Chairman. The vote of three members is sufficient to override a decision by the Chairman that a matter is nonsubstantive.
The Board shall receive complaints of any violations of the Code of Ethics and shall, upon such complaint, investigate same, and may hold private hearings thereon if, in the opinion of the majority of the Board, said complaint warrants a hearing. Any complaint received by the Board must be in writing and signed by the individual making said complaint. Upon receiving any complaint, the Board shall privately notify in writing the person against whom said complaint has been filed, advising the concerned party of the specific nature of the complaint made and being investigated by the Board, and the name of the complainant. Upon receipt of said notice from the Board, the party so notified that a complaint has been filed against him shall have the right to demand a full hearing by the Board. Said party is entitled to be represented by legal counsel. In the event the Board decides that a hearing is required, or the person whose conduct is being called into question demands a hearing, said hearing shall afford the person whose conduct is called into question the right to cross-examine anyone testifying against him or her, to meet and answer any complaint made of his or her conduct, and to present evidence in his or her own behalf. No hearing may be conducted with fewer than four members of the Board in attendance.
The Board of Ethics shall report to the Board of Selectmen its finding as to whether or not a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred, together with recommendation as to dispositions to be made. The Board of Selectmen shall thereupon take such action as it may deem appropriate, including, but not limited to, removal from office, suspension, censure, or dismissal of the charges, except that elected officials may not be removed or suspended from office.
If the Board of Ethics shall receive complaints against any official or employee of the Town, the investigation and disposition of which have been delegated to other boards or commissions created by the Charter, or under the statutes of the State of Connecticut, then, in that event, the Board of Ethics shall forward the complaint received to the appropriate board or commission. The board or Commission to which such complaints are forwarded shall thereafter notify the Board of Ethics of the disposition made of said complaint.
Whenever an official or employee, prior to any action, shall have any question concerning the conformity with the Code of Ethics of his/her contemplated action or participation in any proceedings, he/she shall have the right to seek an advisory opinion of the Board. Such request must be submitted in writing, and the resulting advisory opinion from the Board shall be in writing.
All opinions, findings and recommendations of the Board of Ethics, whether advisory or at the request of a complainant, shall be kept on file in the office of the Town Clerk.
While the general public's trust in officials and employees is essential to good government, equally important is the protection of the good reputation of those officials and employees. To protect the reputations of the innocent from damage by the lodging of baseless charges and to provide a means of correcting errors of judgment without harm to the individual, or to good Town government, the principle of confidentiality shall pervade the Board's work to whatever extent allowable by the Freedom of Information Act of the State of Connecticut, Public Act No. 75-342.
Editor's Note: See C.G.S. § 1-206 et seq.
The Chairman or Vice-Chairman shall make or have made copies of all correspondence directed to the Board of Ethics at Town Hall or at their homes and forward these to all members of the Board either by mail, when time permits, or notify members to pick up their copies at Town Hall.
Any amendment of the Code of Ethics by the Board shall be submitted to the Legislative Council, which shall have 60 days to approve, disapprove, modify or add to said amendment. Said Council shall then follow the applicable procedures of this Charter to adopt any amendment to the Code of Ethics as an ordinance of the Town.
The administration of the Code of Ethics may be amended by the affirmative vote of four members of the Board of Ethics, provided that such amendment had been presented to the Board in writing at a preceding regular meeting and posted in the office of the Town Clerk for 10 days prior to the final approval. Comments from the public will be allowed before the voting.