With the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics and the Commission on Judicial Disabilities, the State Ethics Commission administers and implements the Maryland Public Ethics Law. That law requires disclosure of the financial affairs of public officials and sets minimum standards for the conduct of State and local government. At the request of persons subject to that law and Commission jurisdiction, the State Ethics Commission renders advisory opinions concerning the law's application. The role of the Commission is to guard against improper influence on public officials or the appearance of conflict of interest. Commission authority encompasses conflicts of interest, financial disclosure, lobbying disclosure, and some procurement matters.
The Commission investigates alleged violations of the Maryland Public Ethics Law. On its own initiative, the Commission may issue and investigate complaints. It receives and reviews financial disclosure statements and lobbyist registration and activity reports; and approves county and city laws where these are enacted as required by State law. The Prince George's County program relating to zoning and ethics, and some other special ethics-related programs also receive Commission oversight. For the public and those covered by the statute, the Commission provides training and information.
A directory of firms that conduct a specified amount of business with the State is prepared by the State Ethics Commission. At the Commission office, financial disclosure forms and lobbyists' reports are available for public inspection.
The Commission consists of five members appointed to five-year terms by the Governor. One is nominated by the Senate President and one by the Speaker of the House of Delegates. The Commission appoints an executive director, general counsel, and staff counsel (Code State Government Article, secs. 15-201 through 15-203).
November 5, 2002
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