The Ethics Commission investigates and resolves violations of the Ethics Act. Any person may file a written complaint, which must include a notary public’s signature.
The Commission itself may initiate a Complaint if it receives credible evidence of a material violation of the Ethics Act. All Complaints are considered by the three-member Probable Cause Review Board, which initially determines whether the allegations in the Complaint, if taken as true, state a “material” violation of the Ethics Act. (A material violation is one which is not trivial or inconsequential.) Those Complaints which do state a material violation are then investigated. Those which do not are dismissed.
Complaints which allege trivial or inconsequential violations or were filed outside of the statute of limitations are dismissed. The statute of limitations for alleged violations which occurred before July 1, 2016, is two years. For violations which occur on or after July 1, 2016, the statute of limitations is five years.
The Ethics Commission has the authority to subpoena evidence and testimony, although no person alleged to have violated the Act is required to give testimony. It is a violation of the Act to give false and misleading information to the Commission or to procure or induce another person to provide false information.
Persons found to have violated the Ethics Act may be publicly reprimanded, fined up to $5,000 per violation, ordered to pay restitution and/or ordered to reimburse the Commission for its costs of investigation and prosecution. The Commission also may recommend that the person be removed from office or that his employment be terminated.