Complaints of Ethics Violations
An ethics violation occurs when a public official or employee or other individual initiates or takes an action that is contrary to the principles embodied in the Government Ethics Code Act. These principles are described under Conflict of Interest, Gifts & Gratuities, Financial Disclosure, and Political Activity.
The Act designates the Office of the Public Auditor to receive complaints of violations, and authorizes OPA to investigate and take action as appropriate.
Anyone may report possible violations to the Office of the Public Auditor in writing, in person, or by using the OPA Hotline at anytime of day or night.
The Public Auditor uses discretion in deciding whether to investigate or to act upon a complaint. If the Public Auditor decides not to investigate, he should state the reasons in a written report. The Public Auditor will send a copy of any such complaint concerning a legislative official or employee to the Legislature within two days of receipt.
- Before the conclusion of any investigation, the Public Auditor will give notice to the person under investigation of the substance of the complaint and an opportunity to provide written information including names of witnesses he wishes to be interviewed.
- At the conclusion of his investigation, the Public Auditor will prepare a written report that includes a summary of the investigation, a complete transcript of any proceeding, and any recommendations for administrative or legal action.
- If the Public Auditor notifies a person that a complaint is pending, the notification along with any recommendation for corrective action should be in writing with a copy sent to the Governor.
- If the Public Auditor determines that the complaint is not sustained, he will state so in his report and notify the person investigated, as well as any other person specifically informed of the investigation.
- Where corrective action is needed, the report will be sent to the appropriate parties. If the report concerns:
- a public employee, the report will be sent to the head of the public entity where the employee works;
- a department head or appointed official, the report will be sent to the Governor;
- a legislative employee, the report will be sent to the legislator for whom the employee works;
- an elected official, the report will be sent to that official and the Governor; and
- the Governor or Lt. Governor, the report will be made public.
- Persons receiving a recommendation will, within 30 days, advise the Public Auditor of action taken on the recommendation, or provide a statement of reasons why they decline to implement the recommended action.
- Complaints to the Public Auditor's Office will be confidential except as necessary to carry out the Public Auditor's duties or to enable others to consider and act on the Public Auditor's notices and recommendations.
- The Public Auditor's Office may, however, comment publicly on the disposition of its requests and recommendations and publish summary opinions so long as an opinion does not identify the person complained against or the specific transaction.
- Any employee found to have furnished false or misleading information to the Public Auditor with the intent to mislead will be subject to employment sanctions including discharge.
- Any non-elected official, employee, or contractor who fails to provide documents or information requested by the Public Auditor will be subject to employment sanctions including removal from office or cancellation of contract rights.
- Any person found guilty by a court of furnishing false, misleading, or incomplete information to the Public Auditor with the intent to mislead will be subject to a fine of not more than $500.
Note: The above text is not a complete analysis of the Ethics Code and is intended as a guide only