[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Selectmen 6-9-2004. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 53, Code of Ethics, adopted 3-20-1973. The Introduction of this ordinance reads as follows: "The Town of Orange believes and declares that its elected and appointed officials and employees are intelligent, responsible and honest people, who have a healthy respect for their individual reputations and that of the Town of Orange and at the same time recognize that occasions arise in which ethics concerns necessitate the intervention of a third party. In such event, the Town expects the individual to seek the counsel of the Board of Ethics and to abide by its ruling (this type of role identifies the passive role of the Ethics Committee). In addition, the Town expects that if the Board of Ethics becomes aware of a possible ethics problem involving one or more persons engaged in some aspect of the Town's business, the Board of Ethics shall conduct an investigation (this role identifies the active role of the Board of Ethics), and if it finds probable cause to believe that a violation has or violations have occurred it shall thereupon order that there be a hearing. Where appropriate, the Board of Ethics shall issue a finding of fact and a ruling thereon. The ruling shall be obligatory upon those involved. Each person entering upon service in and each person presently serving the Town of Orange agrees to the fact that by serving he or she agrees that he or she is engaged in activities involving a serious fiduciary and ethical duty."
Our government is a representative democracy. Those who are elected, appointed, hired or volunteer as representatives accept a public trust, which they share with those whom they elect, appoint, hire or otherwise enlist to help them serve the public. The public entrusts its power and resources to its servants to use only in the public interest. Public trust requires public servants to fulfill their public duties faithfully and honestly, and to subordinate any personal interest which conflicts with the public interest. Public trust also requires that the government be conducted in an open manner, when appropriate, so that the official actions of public servants may be subject to public scrutiny and so the members of the public have access to information upon which decisions and policies affecting them are made; but public trust also requires that government be conducted in a manner which respects the rights of its constituents to privacy and confidentiality. Public trust also requires that acts which are contrary to the public interest be defined and prohibited; that there be an orderly procedure for raising and addressing ethical questions; that ethical behavior be encouraged and suitably rewarded and that unethical behavior be discouraged and suitably disciplined through a process that is fundamentally fair.
It is the responsibility of each public servant to act in a manner which contributes to cultivating public trust in the integrity of government. Public trust in the integrity of government is cultivated when individual public servants act with integrity and when the public is aware that its servants act with integrity. Therefore, dedicated public servants not only act with integrity, but choose to avoid even lawful activity when the appearance of impropriety would lessen the public confidence in its servants and in its system. As a result, sometimes public servants sacrifice opportunities which would be open to them if they were not public servants.
Although this chapter is necessary to identify minimum standards below which a public servant's conduct cannot fall without risk of penalty, it is understood that a healthy ethical environment for the provision of public service cannot be achieved or maintained by a mere adherence to minimum standards. It is also understood that no provision can replace the internal commitment which motivates those who act ethically. The principle policy which forms the foundation of this chapter is to encourage internal commitment by establishing and maintaining a work environment which supports integrity with pride and enthusiasm. A work environment which supports integrity includes public servants who:
Recognize with gratitude that the primary reason they hold a public position is to serve the public;
Recognize with pride that they hold their public position because the public trusts them;
Are fair and impartial in serving the public and each other in the performance of their duties;
Are adequately educated in principles of ethics; and
Encourage ethical practices which protect, advance, and promote the public interest.
For the purpose of this chapter the following capitalized terms, phrases, words and their derivatives shall have the meanings given herein. Capitalized terms, phrases, words and their derivatives not defined herein shall have the meaning as set forth in Sec 1-79 of the Connecticut General Statutes. Words used in the present tense include the future, words in plural number include the singular, and words in the singular include the plural number. Words in the male gender include the female gender and words in the female gender include words in the male gender. All capitalized terms used in the definition of any other term shall have their meaning as otherwise defined in this section. The words "shall" and "will" are mandatory and the word "may" is permissive. Terms and words not defined herein or in Section 1-79, Conn. General Statutes, shall be given their common and ordinary meaning unless the context suggests otherwise. When a right or duty pertains to the holder of a specific position, such as First Selectman, Town Clerk, City Clerk or other official, the same right or duty pertains to any designee to whom the holder may lawfully delegate the right or duty.
- APPOINTING AUTHORITY
- The First Selectman, the Board of Selectmen, the chair of a board, authority, agency, committee, commission or Orange Board of Education.
- An association, commercial entity, corporation, enterprise, firm, franchise, holding company, joint-stock company, organization, partnership, self-employed individual, non-stock company, sole proprietorship, trust, or other legal entity established to earn or otherwise obtain money, whether for profit or non-profit, excluding a municipal corporation or governmental entity.
- BUSINESS WITH WHICH HE IS ASSOCIATED
- A business in which an official or employee or member of his family is a director, officer, limited or general partner, beneficiary of a trust or holder of stock constituting 5% or more of the total outstanding stock of any class, or the owner of 5% or more of the equitable ownership interest, provided an official or employee, or member of his family shall not be deemed to be associated with a not-for-profit entity solely by virtue of the fact that the official or employee or member of his family is an unpaid director or officer of the not-for-profit entity. "Officer" refers only to the president, executive or senior vice president or treasurer of such business.
- A son or daughter, whether or not the son or daughter is the biological offspring of the legal parent or parents and whether or not the son or daughter is a financial dependent of the parent or parents. "Child" includes step-child or step-children of either the public servant or the spouse of the public servant.
- CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION
- Information, whether transmitted orally or in writing, which is obtained by reason of the public position or office held and is of such a nature that it is not, at the time of transmission, a matter of public record or knowledge and which has not since become a matter of public record.
- Those employed by the Town and those employed by any and all boards, agencies, authorities, committees, and commissions of said Town. This includes the Orange Board of Education.
- A. Any thing or group of things having a monetary value, individually or in aggregate, in excess of $100 in any calendar year, including but not limited to entertainment, food, beverage, travel, lodging, given or paid to the extent that consideration of equal value is not received by the donor.
- B. Any thing or benefit, regardless of its monetary value, perceived or intended by either the one who offers or the one to whom it is offered to be of sufficient value to influence an official or employee in the performance or nonperformance of an official action.
- C. "Gift" shall not include:
- (1) A political contribution otherwise reported as required by law or a donation or payment as described in Subdivision (9) or (10) of Subsection (b) of Section 9-333b;
- (2) Services provided by persons volunteering their time;
- (3) A commercially reasonable loan made on terms not more favorable than loans made in the ordinary course of business;
- (5) Goods or services:
- (6) A certificate, plaque or other ceremonial award costing less than $100;
- (7) A rebate, discount or promotional item available to the general public;
- (8) Printed or recorded informational material germane to Town action or functions;
- (9) A gift, including, but not limited to, food or beverage or both, typically provided by an an individual for the celebration of a life event;
- (10) Gifts costing less than $100 in the aggregate or food or beverage provided at a hospitality suite at a meeting or conference of a legislative association, by a person who is not a registrant or is not doing business with the Town;
- (11) Admission to a charitable, civic, or political event, including food and beverage provided at such event, and when such event is out of state, reimbursement for lodging and/or travel expenses, at which an official or employee participates in his official capacity, provided such admission and/or reimbursement is provided by a sponsoring entity;
- (12) Anything of value provided by an employer of (A) an official, (B) an employee, or (C) a spouse of an official or employee, to such official, employee or spouse, provided such benefits are customarily and ordinarily provided to others in similar circumstances.
- Unless the context of this ordinance indicates otherwise, any act, action, agenda item, allegation, application, amendment, auction, bill, business, case, charge, claim, consideration, contract, controversy, decree, deed, deliberation, discussion, hearing, issue, lease, license, measure, offer, order, ordinance, permit, personnel action, petition, policy, project, presentation, procedure, privilege, proceeding, project, proposal, proposition, purchase, recommendation, regulation, rental, request, resolution, sale, subject, transaction, use, variance, or other discretionary choice pending before a municipality decisionmaker when a public servant has a personal interest in the outcome of the decision, or may result in a personal benefit to the public servant.
- MEMBER OF THE FAMILY
- Any spouse, child, parent, or anyone residing in the household of an official or employee.
- OFFICIAL ACTION
- Any act, action, approval, decision, denial, directive, disapproval, inaction, order, performance, nonperformance, recommendation, vote, or other direct result of an official's or employee's exercise of a discretionary authority in connection with his or her public position.
- OFFICIAL RESPONSIBILITY
- Direct administrative or operating authority, whether intermediate or final and whether exercisable personally or through subordinates to approve, disapprove, or otherwise direct government action.
- Those elected and/or appointed persons of the Town of Orange and its boards, agencies, authorities, committees, and commissions, either paid or unpaid (voluntary).
- OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT
- To be employed by some employer, other than the Town of Orange, or stated more precisely, to devote or apply one's energy to some process, effort, or service to any employment with any person or business for which any such person is receiving, has received or will receive or was promised, is promised some thing of value to him or her in the present or in the future.
- An individual, sole proprietorship, trust, corporation, union, association, firm, partnership, club, committee, or other group of persons.
- PERSONAL INTEREST
- A direct or indirect interest having value peculiar to a particular individual or group, whether the value is pecuniary or nonpecuniary, which value may accrue to such individual or group or result in such individual or group deriving or potentially deriving a personal benefit as a result of the approval or denial of any ordinance, resolution, order, or other official action, or the performance or nonperformance thereof, by an official or employee and which is not shared by the general public.
- One has removed himself or herself from participation in any matter or part of any matter in which such participation can give rise to a mere inference of a conflict of interest or can involve an actual conflict of interest. When an occasion of a recusal arises, it must be timely and complete. Recusal, by its nature, the removal of oneself from acting in the capacity and under the authority of one's official capacity for cause requires that the removal should take place before the beginning of any hearing, action, consideration of action, inquiry, or deliberation and must take place at such time as the official becomes aware of such facts as give rise to such conflict or apparent conflict of interest. Any recusal shall include a statement setting forth good and reasonable cause for the same.
If any provision of this chapter shall be in conflict with the provisions of the Connecticut General Statutes or otherwise unenforceable at law, said provision shall be severed from this Code of Ethics and shall not affect the effect or enforceability of the remainder of this code.
There shall be a municipal Board of Ethics consisting of five members. The members shall be appointed by the First Selectman pursuant to the Charter of the Town of Orange for terms of four years. No more than a majority shall be members of the same political party. The terms of the members in office at the time of the adoption of this amendment of the Town of Orange Code of Ethics shall not be affected by this section and this section shall only affect the appointment of members made or the reappointment of members of this Board of Ethics, whose appointment expires after the adoption of this code, made after the adoption of this code.
Qualifications for membership.
All members shall be electors of Orange. No member shall hold or campaign for any political office in the Town of Orange.
No member shall have held political office in Orange, or have been a candidate for a political office of the Town of Orange, for a one-year period prior to the appointment to the Board of Ethics.
No member shall hold office in any political party or political committee.
No member shall serve as a member of any other board, agency, authority, committee, commission, or other entity exercising any authority on behalf of the Town of Orange.
The Board of Ethics shall elect a chairperson who shall preside at meetings of the Board of Ethics, a vice-chairman to preside in the absence of the chairperson, and a secretary, who shall take the minutes of the meetings, maintain the records in current order, file necessary legal notices and filing papers as are required by this chapter. Four persons out of five shall constitute a quorum. A majority vote of the Board of Ethics members present at a meeting is required for action of the Board of Ethics except as otherwise provided herein. The Chairperson or any three members of the Board of Ethics may call a meeting as provided by law.
Preparation and maintenance of records; advisory opinions.
The Board of Ethics shall prepare all reports, advisory opinions, orders, statements, memoranda, and shall request that all advisory opinions of counsel be prepared, in triplicate. This requirement is to facilitate public access to such reports, advisory opinions, orders, statements, memoranda, and counsel's advisory opinions. The original of each such document shall be filed with the Orange Town Clerk, who shall retain same on file in chronological and numerical order together with an index thereof. The second copy shall be maintained in a bound book created, maintained and retained in a file cabinet of this Commission. The third copy shall be placed in a loose-leaf notebook kept and maintained in the offices of this Board of Ethics along with a master copy of this ordinance sufficiently spaced to allow for annotation of the provisions hereof involved in any such record, order, statement, memoranda or advisory opinion of counsel. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any matters which are to remain confidential pursuant to the provisions of § 53-7 of this Code or any applicable provisions of the Connecticut General Statutes.
The Board of Ethics shall issue advisory opinions with regard to the requirements of this Ethics Code upon the written request of an official or employee. The Board of Ethics shall address only the specific request (vague and unclear requests will be returned for clarification) contained therein. Advisory opinions rendered by the Board of Ethics, until amended, overruled in part, or revoked, shall be binding upon the Board of Ethics, upon the person requesting the same and shall be deemed the final decision of the Commission. The person who requests the advisory opinion acted upon same in reliance thereon in good faith shall have an absolute defense in any matter brought under the involved provision of this code. Decisions of the Board of Ethics shall be circulated among all Town boards, agencies, authorities, committees, commissions, the Orange Board of Education and quasi-public entities and the personnel of same.
The Board of Ethics shall file a written report to be included in the Annual Town Report summarizing the activities of the Board.
The Board of Ethics may adopt, after public hearing, rules and regulations not inconsistent with this Code for administration and implementation of this code.
The Board of Ethics, after request made to and authorization given by the Board of Selectmen, may employ necessary staff within available appropriations as determined by the Board of Selectmen.
Investigation of complaints.
Upon complaint of any person, signed under oath or under penalty of false statement, or upon its own complaint, the Board of Ethics shall investigate any alleged violation of this Code or applicable state statute (regarding ethics, corrupting influence, or illegal activities as provided in Section 7-148h, as amended, of the Connecticut General Statutes).
Not later than 10 business days after the receipt or issuance of such complaint, or, not later than 10 business days after the first contact with the third party if the Board of Ethics undertakes the investigation of a possible violation prior to the issuance of a complaint the Board of Ethics shall provide notice of such investigation, receipt or issuance of such complaint by mail to any respondent(s) against whom such a complaint is filed or investigation is being conducted and shall provide notice of the receipt of the complaint to the complainant(s).
The Board of Ethics shall investigate the complaint to determine whether or not there exists probable cause that a violation of any provision of the Code or applicable state statute has occurred. The affirmative vote of four members of the five-person Board of Ethics is necessary for a finding of probable cause of a violation. If the Board of Ethics determines that there is no probable cause of a violation, the Board of Ethics shall dismiss the complaint. Notice of the Board of Ethics' findings, and summary of such findings, shall be given to the complainant(s) and the respondent(s) within three business days after the completion of the investigation. If, in the course of any investigation, the Board of Ethics shall discover another and separate possible violation(s), it shall, after written notice to the respondent(s), make a separate investigation to determine whether or not there exists probable cause of a violation or violations and if it finds no probable cause, as aforesaid, it will provide the notice as aforesaid by mail.
If the Board of Ethics finds probable cause of a violation or violations, then within 30 days after so determining, the Board of Ethics shall fix a date for the commencement of the hearing on the allegation(s) contained in the complaint. The hearing date regarding any probable cause for a complaint or investigation shall be not more than 60 days after the mailing of the notice of the complaint or investigation to the respondent.
The Board of Ethics, in the conduct of its investigation of an alleged violation of this Code or applicable state statute and/or upon the hearing of a complaint, shall have the power to hold hearings, administer oaths, examine witnesses, receive oral and documentary evidence, require production for examination by the Board of Ethics of any books, papers, documents, or records, which the Board of Ethics deems relevant in any matter under investigation or in question and to issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum to witnesses, enforceable upon application to the Superior Court. In the exercise of such power, the Board of Ethics may use the services of the state police or local police. Such services shall be provided by the Orange Police Department upon the Board of Ethic's request. Any witness summoned before the Board of Ethics shall receive the witness fee paid to witness in the courts of this state.
The complainant and the respondent shall have the right to appear and to be represented by legal counsel, provided such counsel has filed a written appearance on behalf of his or her or their client(s) and to examine and cross examine witnesses.
In the investigation of a complaint or of a matter initiated by the Board of Ethics, the Board of Ethics may investigate as a whole body, or it may designate one or more members to conduct an investigation and to report to the Board of Ethics as a whole.
The Board of Ethics shall make no finding that there is a violation of any provision of this code or any applicable statute except upon the concurring vote of at least four out of five of its members. Each such violation must be established by a preponderance of the evidence.
Any hearing conducted by the Board of Ethics shall not be governed by the strict rules of judicial evidence but by an administrative standard so as to allow a liberal introduction of testimony and documentary evidence. The weight to be given to the same will be determined by THE Board of Ethics.
At any hearing on a complaint, a court stenographer shall be retained by the Board of Ethics to record the proceedings.
The Board of Ethics shall be represented by Town Counsel or by outside counsel retained by the Town for that purpose. The Board of Ethics shall, at the time that the Board of Ethics finds probable cause for a hearing, file written request for the services of counsel with the Board of Selectmen.
No complaint may be made under this code except within three years after the violation alleged in the complaint has been committed. Complaints may be filed against officials and employees who no longer hold public office or who are no longer employed by the Town of Orange subject to the limitations set forth in this subsection.
No person shall take or threaten to take official action against an individual for such individual's disclosure of information to the Board of Ethics under the provisions of this Code.
In making its finding and any written report thereon the Board of Ethics shall avoid, to the extent that it is possible, the use of the names of witnesses, except for the respondent.
Unless the Board of Ethics makes a determination of probable cause of a violation, a complaint alleging a violation and the record of the Board of Ethics shall be and remain confidential, except upon the request, duly signed, by the respondent, and except that some or all of the records may be utilized in subsequent proceedings.
Prior to the filing of its own complaint, the Board of Ethics may conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether the filing of a complaint is warranted. This preliminary investigation shall be confidential except upon the written request, duly signed, by the subject of the investigation.
If the complaint or investigation is confidential no complainant, respondent, witness, designated party, or Board of Ethics member, or staff member shall disclose any information relating to the investigation or learned in the investigation, including knowledge of the existence of the complaint, or investigation, which the disclosing person would not otherwise have known. If such disclosure is made the Board of Ethics may, after consultation with the respondent if the respondent is not the source of the disclosure, publish its findings and a summary of the reasons therefor. Nothing herein shall preclude the Board of Ethics from reporting the possible commission of a crime to the Chief States Attorney or other prosecutorial authority.
If the Board of Ethics, upon the conclusion of its investigation, shall find a violation of this code or of applicable state statutes, the Board of Ethics shall make public a finding of probable cause not later than 10 business days, after the termination of the investigation. At such time, the entire record of the investigation shall become public, except that the Board of Ethics may postpone the release of such public records for a period of 14 days for the purposes of disposing of such complaint by stipulated agreement with the respondent.
No employee or official shall engage in or participate in any business, including outside employment, or have an interest, direct or indirect, which is incompatible with the proper discharge of his or her responsibilities in the public interest or would tend to impair his or her independent judgment or action in the performance of his or her official responsibilities.
No employee or official shall solicit or accept any gift from any person who to his or her knowledge has a personal interest in any pending matter within such individual's official responsibility.
If a prohibited gift is offered, he or she must refuse it, return it, pay the donor the full value of it, or donate it to a nonprofit charitable organization, provided he or she does not take a corresponding tax write-off. Alternatively, it may be considered a gift to the municipality, provided it remains in the municipality's possession permanently.
No employee or official shall appear on behalf of a private interest before any board, commission, committee, agency, or authority of which he or she is a member or employed by or, with respect to an employee, whose employment involves advising or representing such board, commission, committee, agency or authority.
Nothing in this code shall prohibit or restrict an official, or employee, or a quasi-public employee from appearing before any board, commission, committee, agency, authority or quasi-public authority on his or her own behalf, or from being a party in any action, proceeding or litigation brought by or against the public employee or public official in which the municipality is a party.
No official or employee shall disclose confidential information concerning municipal affairs, nor he or she use such information for the financial interest of himself or herself or others.
No employee or official shall request or permit the use of municipality-owned vehicles, equipment, facilities, material, or property for personal convenience or profit, except when such are available to the public generally or are provided as municipal policy for the use of such officials or employees to conduct official business.
No official, no employee or business with which he or she is associated or member of his or her family shall enter into a contract with the municipality unless it is awarded through a process of public notice and competitive bidding.
No employee or official shall accept a fee or an honorarium for an article, appearance, or speech, or participation at an event in his or her official capacity.
No official or employee, member of such official's or employee's family or business with which he or she is associated shall solicit or accept anything of value, including, but not limited to, a gift, loan, a political contribution, reward, or promise of future employment based on any understanding that the vote, or official action or judgment of the official or employee would be influenced thereby.
No person shall be elected or appointed to more than one standing municipal office, board, committee, agency, authority, or commission, unless approved in advance thereof by the Board of Ethics, or provided by state statute or ordinance creating authority of the board, committee, commission or agency. Such approval shall be granted only if the offices are so unrelated (1) such that service on one will not be detrimental to the municipality; (2) so as not to adversely and materially limit that person's loyalties, duties and responsibilities owed to each office; (3) so as to maintain the public confidence and trust in the independent deliberations and decisions of municipal offices, commissions, committees, authorities, agencies, and boards. This subsection shall not apply to the office of Municipal First Selectman who, pursuant to Section 4-2 of the Orange Town Charter, is an ex-officio, non-voting member of all municipal agencies, boards, committees, commissions, authorities or to ad hoc or temporary committees. The provisions of Connecticut General Statutes Section 9-210, Incompatible Town Offices, as may be amended hereinafter, is incorporated herein by reference.
No official or employee shall take official action on any matter within his or her official responsibility if the official or employee has reason to believe that the official or employee, a member of his or her family, or a business with which he or she is associated will derive a direct monetary gain or suffer a direct monetary loss by reason of such official action. In such circumstance the official shall recuse himself or herself from the matter subject of such official action. This provision shall not apply if such monetary gain or loss accrues to the benefit or detriment of the official or employee, a member of his or her family, or a business with which he or she is associated as a member of a profession, occupation or group to no greater extent than to any other member of such profession, occupation or group.
No paid consultant of this municipality shall represent a private interest in any action or proceeding against the interest of the municipality which is in conflict with the performance of his duties as consultant.
No paid consultant may represent anyone other than the municipality concerning any matter in which he participated personally and substantially as a consultant to the municipality.
No paid consultant shall disclose confidential information learned while performing his or her duties for the municipality nor shall be use such information for the financial interest of himself or of others.
No former official or employee shall appear for compensation before any municipal commission, agency, committee, authority, or board by or in which he was formerly employed or served at any time upon any matter which was under consideration at the time of his or her service at any time.
No former employee or official shall represent anyone other than the municipality before any board or commission concerning any particular matter in which he participated personally and substantially while in municipal service.
No former official or employee shall disclose or use confidential information acquired in the course of or by reason of his or her official duties, for the financial gain of himself or herself or others.
No former employee or official who participated substantially in the negotiation or award of a municipal contract obliging the municipality to pay an amount of $100,000 or more, or who supervised the negotiation or award of such contract, shall accept employment with a party to the contract other than the municipality for a period of one year after such contract was signed and substantial performance thereof had begun.
The Town Clerk shall cause a copy of this Code of Ethics to be distributed to every employee and official within 60 days after the enactment of this code. Each employee and official shall be furnished a copy before entering the duties of his office or employment and sign a statement stating that he or she has received a copy of this ordinance.