A Guide to the Code of Ethics for Public Officials and State Employees
NOTE: This Guide summarizes only the main points of the Code. For the full text, with all conditions and exceptions, consult Chapter 10, part I, Conn. General Statutes.
WHO MUST COMPLY: All state officials and employees (except judges), plus sheriffs and deputy sheriffs. Candidates for State office must comply with the code provisions indicated. Two provisions apply to everyone. One applies to former public officials and State employees.
WHAT STANDARDS DOES THE CODE SET: The ethical rules are contained in sections 1-84 through 1-86, Conn. General Statutes. Basically, these sections are designed to prevent one from using oneís public position or authority, or confidential information gained in State service, for personal financial benefit. The principal provisions of these sections forbid a public official or State employee to:
be in a position where one can expect to derive monetary gain or suffer a direct monetary loss by reason of oneís official activity, unless the benefit or detriment to the individual is no greater then for any other member of oneís business, profession, occupation, or group;
accept outside employment which will impair oneís independence of judgment as to official duties or require or induce one to disclose confidential information gained in State service;
use public position or confidential information gained in it for oneís financial benefit, oneís familyís or an associated businessí;
represent another for compensation, or be a member of a partnership, association, or professional corporation which represents a client for compensation, before:
|Banking Dept.||Gaming Policy Board|
|Claims Cmsr.||Insurance Dept.|
|Conn. Siting Council||Dept. of Environmental Protection|
|Dept. of Liquor Control||Conn. Real Estate Cmsn.|
|Dept. of Motor Vehicles||State Insurance Purchasing Board|
|DPUC||Cmsn. on Hospitals & Health Care|
|Div. of Special Revenue
(prohibition extends to employees of public officials or State employees, but accepts members of boards or commissions who receive no compensation other than per diem, expenses, or both);
solicit or accept anything of value based on an understanding that oneís official action will be influenced thereby (prohibition applies to candidates and to anyone offering or giving the thing of value);
enter into most contracts with the State valued at $100 or more, unless contract has been awarded through an open and public process (ban extends to immediate family associated businesses but accepts public officials in the executive branch who receive no compensation except per diem, expenses, or both unless official has control over subject matter of (contract));
accept any gift or gifts during a calendar year, knowing the aggregate value to be $50 or more, from one known to be or to represent a registered lobbyist (limitation also applies to candidates, immediate family, and staff members; check exceptions to definition of ìgiftî).
No former public official or State employee may disclose or use confidential information, gained in State service, for his financial benefit or anotherís.
Section 1-86 of the Code mandates the procedure for a State employee or public official faced with a ìpotential conflict of interestî: a significant financial interest of the individual, his or her family, or an associated businessóan interest not held by a substantial segment of the general publicówhich will be affected by official action the individual is required to take.
Perceiving a potential conflict of interest: (1) if one is a member of the legislature or of a regulatory agency one must either abstain or prepare, under penalty of false statement, a written statement (to be placed in the journal or the minutes of the individualís agency, copy to the Ethics Commission) describing the potential conflict and action required and stating why, despite the situation, one can act fairly, objectively, and in the public interest, or (2) in not such a member, one must prepare, the potential conflict and deliver it to oneís immediate superior who will assign the matter to another; if one has no immediate superior, deliver the statement to the Ethics Commission for its advice.
Note that section 1-84(a) (substantial conflict) and section 1-86 (potential conflict) are distinct by related provisions to consider when a conflict of interest is identified.
(1) If faced with taking official action which you can expect will directly affect your financial interest, distinct from others in your occupation or group (e.g., taking official action on the awarding [sic] of a contract to a private business you own) you have a substantial conflict of interest and may not act.
(2) However, if your financial interest is shared by the other members of your business, profession, occupation, or group (for example, a legislator/teacher acting on a bill that will result in a uniform financial benefit to everyone in the teaching profession) you proceed under the rules of section 1-86.
(3) Lastly, if you decide the financial effect on you, a family member, or an associated business is insignificant or no different than that on a substantial segment of the general public (for example, a legislator voting on a tax bill that will be of benefit, will similarly benefit all the Stateís taxpayers) you may act without having to follow any of the above procedures.
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: Certain public servants in significant positions in the Legislative and Executive Branches of State government must file annually with the Ethics Commission by April 15 statements of financial interests held during the previous year. Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs annually file statements of income earned as sheriffs or deputy sheriffs the previous year.
ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURES, PENALTIES: Enforcement of the Code is initiated by a complaint, filed by the Commission or any member of the public. A two-stage process follows: (1) confidential probable cause hearing; (2) if probable cause is found, a public hearing to determine if the Code has been violated (alternatively, after a probable cause finding the Commission and Respondent may negotiate a settlement).
After a finding or admission of a violation, the Commission can order the Respondent to comply with the Code in the future, file any required report or statement, and pay a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation.
If the Commission concludes the violation was intentional, it can refer the matter to the Chief Stateís Attorney for action. An intentional violation of the Code is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1000, a jail term of up to one year.
The Attorney General may sue for up to three times the economic gain received through knowingly committing or knowingly profiting from a violation of the Code.
Finally, for failure to file a report, statement, or other information required by the code the Commission can, after a single hearing, impose a civil penalty of up to $10 per day, the aggregate penalty for a single violation not to exceed $1,000.
IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT THE CODE: Anyone covered by the Code may request the Commissionís advice (advisory opinion) as to how the Code applies to his or her situation. In addition, anyone may request a declaratory ruling from the Commission regarding the application of a provision of the code or of the Commissionís regulations.
If you have any questions about this Guide, would like copies, or desire more information about the Ethics law, please contact the Commission staff.
State Ethics Commission
97 Elm Street (rear)
Hartford, CT 06106
Phone: (203) 566-4472 (Hours: Weekdays, 8:30-4:30)
Ethics Code Amendments: (Effective January 7, 1987)
1. No former Executive Branch member may represent anyone other than the State concerning any particular matter (1) in which he or she participated personally and substantially while in State service and (2) in which the State has a substantial interest.
2. No former Executive Branch member shall, for one year after leaving State service, represent anyone (other than the State) for compensation before the agency in which he or she was employed at the time of leaving State service, concerning any matter in which the State has a substantial interest.
3. The restrictions which follow apply to persons who serve in certain positions, to be designated, in the
|Cmsn. on Hospitals and Health Care|
|Conn. Siting Council||Division of Special Revenue|
|Banking Dept.||Gaming Policy Board|
|Insurance Dept.||Dept. of Public Utility Control|
|Liquor Control Dept.||(including Ofc. of Consumer Counsel)|
(Persons who serve ex officio, who are required by statute to represent a regulated industry, or who are permitted by statue to have a past or present affiliation with the regulated industry are exempt.) Positions in the listed agencies to which the restrictions apply will be designated by Ethics Commission regulations adopted pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act. Positions will be ones involving significant decision-making or supervisory responsibility.
4. No former public official or State employee who
participated substantially in, or supervised, the negotiation or
award of a State contract valued at $50,000 or more may accept
employment with a party to the contract (other than the State)
for one year after resignation from State service if the
resignation occurs within one year after the contract is signed.