The Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics LASBO Conference March 20, 2009
Policy Goals of the Code of Ethics • To instill public confidence in the integrity of government; • To ensure the independence and impartiality of elected officials and public employees; • To ensure that governmental decisions and policy are made in the proper channel of government structure, and • To ensure that public office and employment are not used for private gain.
The Board of Ethics • 11 Members: • 7 appointed by the governor, with at least one from each congressional district • 2 elected by the Senate • 2 elected by the House of Representatives
Duties of the Board of Ethics • Administers and Enforces the Ethics Code. • Issues advisory opinions • Conducts investigations • Files charges, offers consent opinions
Public Employee v. Public Servant Who is a “public employee”? • Anyone who is engaged in the performance of a governmental function. • An administrative officer or official of a governmental entity who is not filling an elective office. • Anyone appointed by an elected official when acting in an official capacity where the appointee is to serve the governmental entity. • Anyone under the supervision or authority of an elected official or an employee of the governmental entity. A “public servant” is public employee or an elected official
§ 1113A – Prohibited Transactions • A public servant, excluding legislators and appointed members of boards and commissions • Public servant’s immediate family • Legal entity in which public servant or immediate family member, individually or collectively has an ownership interest in excess of 25% MAY NOT • Bid on or enter into any contract, subcontract, or other transaction that is under the supervision of the public servant’s agency
“Agency” • Any department, office, division, agency, commission, board, committee, or other organizational unit of a governmental entity. • A governmental entity is any state or political subdivision which employs you, or to which you were elected.
“Immediate Family Member” • Includes the following: • Children; • Spouses of Children; • Brothers and Sisters; • Spouses of Brothers and Sisters; • Parents; • Spouse, and • Parents of Spouse.
§ 1115 – Gifts • A public servant may NOT accept anything of economic value, directly or indirectly, as a gift from someone who is considered a prohibited source.
“Prohibited Source” • A person who has or is seeking a contractual, business, or financial arrangement with your agency. [R.S. 42:1115A(1)] • A person who conducts activities which are regulated by the public employee’s agency. [R.S. 42:1115B(1)] • A person who has a substantial economic interest that can be affected by the performance or non-performance of the public employee’s job duties. [R.S. 42:1115B(2)]
“Thing of Economic Value” • Means money or any thing having economic value. • EXCEPTIONS: 1.Promotional items having no substantial resale value; 2. Food and drink consumed while the guest of the giver 3. Tickets to a civic, non-profit, educational or political event, if the public servant is a program honoree, a speech presenter, or a panel member.
New Exceptions Effective August 15, 2008 • A public servant may receive: • Complimentary admission to a fundraising event for a candidate or a political party. • Complimentary admission and reasonable lodging and transportation to an educational or professional development seminar related to the job duties of the public servant, provided: • Sponsor is not a prohibited source seeking to influence legislation by public servant’s agency, • Agency head gives approval, and • Affidavit is filed with Board of Ethics within 60 days
The Giver of a Prohibited Gift • The giver of a prohibited gift to a public servant also violates the Code of Governmental Ethics and may be subject to enforcement proceedings. [R.S. 42:1117] • A prohibited source may not give a public servant food, drink or refreshment the total value of which exceeds $50 at a single event. [R.S. 42:1115.1]
§1115.1 • A prohibited source may not give a public servant food, drink or refreshment the total value of which exceeds $50 at a single event. [R.S. 42:1115.1] • Where a group or organization of public servants is invited, $50 is calculated by dividing total cost of the food and drink by the total number of persons invited
§ 1111 – Prohibited Income • A public servant may not render compensated services to or for a prohibited source. [R.S. 42:1111C(2)(d)]
§ 1111 – Prohibitions on Income A Public Servant may not receive: • Any thing of economic value for the performance of his official duties and responsibilities, other than his salary and related benefits from his governmental entity to which he is duly entitled.[R.S. 42:1111A(1)] • Any thing of economic value from a person to whom the public servant has directed business of the governmental entity.[R.S. 42:1111B]
§ 1111 – Prohibitions on Income • A public servant may not receive: • Any thing of economic value for the performance of services which are substantially related to the responsibilities and programs of his agency and in which he participated. [R.S. 42:1111C(1)(a)] • Any thing of economic value for services which draw substantially upon official data or ideas which have not become part of the body of public information. [R.S. 42:1111C(1)(b)]
§ 1111 – Prohibitions on Income • A public servant, a legal entity in which he has a substantial economic interest, or a legal entity in which the public servant is an officer, director, trustee partner, or employee, may not receive any thing of economic value for assisting a person in a transaction involving the public servant’s agency. [R.S. 42:1111E(1)]
§ 1112 – Participation • A public servant cannot participate in a transaction in which any of the following persons has a substantial economic interest: • Himself • A member of his immediate family • A legal entity in which he has a substantial economic interest • A person in which he serves on officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee • A person with whom he is negotiating prospective employment • A person who owes him, or a legal entity in which he owns in excess of 25%, money or can affect his economic interests because of a contractual relationship with him or the legal entity.
“Participation” • Taking part in or sharing in the responsibility for an action of the governmental entity though approval, disapproval, decision, recommendation, the rendering of advice, investigation, or the failure to act or perform a duty.
Avoiding Participation • Public employees must disqualify themselves to avoid participation problems. • Elected officials must recuse themselves from voting. Can participate in debate or discussion after the conflict is disclosed.
§1116 Abuse of Office • A public servant may not: • Use his office or position, directly or indirectly, to compel or coerce anyone to provide himself or another public servant any thing of economic value. -OR- • Use his office or position, directly or indirectly to compel or coerce anyone to participate in political activity.
§ 1119 – Nepotism • An immediate family member of an agency head may not be employed in his/her agency.
“Agency Head” • Chief executive or administrative officer -OR- • Any member of a board or commission who exercises supervision over the agency
General Nepotism Exceptions • Employment in the agency for one year prior to the immediate family member becoming the “agency head;” -OR- • Serving in public employment before April 1, 1980.
Nepotism Exceptions for School Boards • 1119(2)(a)(i) • Immediate family members of school board members or school superintendant may be employed as certified classroom teachers • School board member or superintendant must recuse from any decisions regarding promotion or assignment of location
§ 1119D Persons held liable for willful violation of nepotism provisions • Agency head • Member of the governing authority • Person having authority to hire and fire • Immediate supervisor
§ 1121 – Post Employment “Agency Head” • For a period of 2 years following his termination of employment: • Cannot assist a person, for compensation, in a transaction or in an appearance in connection with a transaction involving his former agency. • Cannot render on a contractual basis to or for his former agency ANY service.
§ 1121 – Post Employment Members of Boards and Commissions • For a period of 2 years following his termination of service on a board or commission, a former board member: • Cannot contract with the board or commission • Cannot be employed in any capacity by the board or commission. • Cannot be appointed to any position by the board or commission.
§ 1121 – Post Employment: Public Employee • For a period of two years following his termination of employment: • Cannot assist a person for compensation in a transaction in which the former public employee had participated in during his public employment and involving his former public employer; AND • Cannot contract with his former employer to perform any service he had performed during his public employment.
§ 1169 – Freedom from Reprisal (“Whistleblower”) • A public servant is shielded from reprisal for reporting, to a competent person or entity, any act which he reasonably believes is a violation of: • Any law; • Any order, rule, or regulation issued in accordance with law; • Other acts of impropriety within the course and scope of public employment or public office • A public servant shall make a report to the Board if he is suspended, demoted, dismissed, or threatened with such actions.
Where to Get More Information • Ethics Website: www.ethics.state.la.us • Ethics Quarterly Newsletter • Informal Advice: (225) 219-5600 or (800) 842-6630
The Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics Courtney Jackson Louisiana Board of EthicsP.O. Box 4368 Baton Rouge, LA 70821(225) 219-5600 Phone (800) 842-6630 Toll Free