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(A) All complaints alleging any violation of the provisions of this chapter shall be filed with the city clerk, who shall immediately convey the complaint to the chairperson of the board. All complaints shall be in writing, signed by the complainant, and shall meet any other requirements established by the board of ethics. The board of ethics shall acknowledge receipt of a complaint to the complainant within ten (10) working days from the date of receipt. The board shall forward within ten (10) working days to each officer or employee of the city or city agency who is the subject of the complaint a copy of the complaint and a general statement of the applicable provisions of this chapter.
(B) The board of ethics may, on its own initiative, determine through an inquiry into informal allegations or information provided directly to the board, by referral, in the public news media, or otherwise, that a violation of this ethics code may exist, and prepare a complaint on its own. The board of ethics may also amend a complaint that has been filed with it by adding further allegations, by adding respondents involved in the same conduct, directly or indirectly, by action or inaction, or by deleting allegations that would not constitute a violation of this ethics code, have been made against persons or entities not covered by this ethics code, or do not appear to be supported by the facts. The board of ethics may also consolidate complaints where the allegations are materially related.
(C) Within forty (40) days of the receipt of a proper complaint, the board of ethics shall conduct a preliminary inquiry concerning the allegations contained in the complaint. The board shall afford a person who is the subject of the complaint an opportunity to respond to the allegations in the complaint. The person shall have the right to be represented by counsel, to appear and be heard under oath, and to offer evidence in response to the allegations.
(D) The person who is the subject of the complaint (respondent) may file with the board of ethics a response under oath to the complaint within fifteen (15) days after his or her receipt of the complaint. The board shall cause the response to be sent to the person filing the original complaint within five (5) days after it is filed. Thereafter, the complainant may also file a response under oath to the respondent’s response, which the board shall send to respondent within five (5) days after it is filed.
(E) Extensions of time to any of the limitations specified in this section may be granted by the board of ethics upon request of a party upon either a vote of a majority of the members, or if it is impractical for a meeting to be held, the chairperson may extend the limit. The board of ethics shall give written notice of any extension(s)of time to the parties.
(F) All proceedings and records relating to a preliminary inquiry being conducted by the board of ethics shall be confidential until a final determination is made by the board, except:
(1) The board may turn over to the commonwealth’s attorney or county attorney evidence which may be used in criminal proceedings.
(2) If the complainant or alleged violator publicly discloses the existence of an inquiry, the board may publicly confirm the existence of the inquiry, and, at its discretion, make public any documents which were issued to either party.
(G) The board shall make a determination based on its preliminary inquiry whether the complaint is within its jurisdiction and, if so, whether it alleges a minimal factual basis to constitute a violation of this chapter. If the board concludes that the complaint is outside of its jurisdiction, frivolous, or without factual basis, the board shall immediately terminate the inquiry, reduce the conclusion to writing, and transmit a copy of its decision to the complainant and to all officers or employees against whom the complaint was filed.
(H) If the board of ethics concludes, based upon its preliminary inquiry, that the complaint is within its jurisdiction and contains allegations sufficient to establish a minimal factual basis to constitute a violation, the board shall notify the officer or employee who is the subject of the complaint and may:
(1) Due to mitigating circumstances, such as lack of significant economic advantage or gain by the officer or employee, lack of economic loss to the city and its taxpayers, or lack of significant impact on public confidence in city government, issue, in writing, a confidential reprimand to the officer or employee concerning the alleged violation and provide a copy of the confidential reprimand to the executive authority and governing body of the city or city agency.
(2) Initiate a hearing to determine whether there has been a violation.
(I) (1) In its investigation, the board of ethics is authorized to administer oaths or affirmations, subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance, and require the production of documents, books, and records which it deems are relevant to the investigation. The police department and all city agencies, bodies, officials, and employees are required to respond fully and truthfully to all enquiries and cooperate with all requests of the board or its attorneys and agents relating to an investigation. It is a violation of this ethics code for any official or employee to deny access to information requested by the board of ethics in the course of an investigation or hearing, except to the extent that such denial is required by law.
(2) Nothing is this section shall be construed to permit the board of ethics to conduct an investigation of itself or any of its members or staff. In the event that there is a complaint filed with the board which alleges that the board or any of its members or staff have violated any provision of this ethics code, the board shall promptly transmit a copy of the complaint to the city council.
(J) Any person who knowingly files with the board a false complaint alleging a violation of any provision of this chapter by an officer or employee of the city or any city agency shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
(Ord. No. 19-94, 12-6-94; Am. Ord. No. 02-20, 2-18-20)