For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning. Words used in the present tense include the future, words in the plural number include the singular number, and words in the singular number include the plural number. Use of the masculine shall include the feminine. All italicized terms used in the definition of any other term shall have their meaning as otherwise defined in this § 12-3. The words "shall" and "will" are mandatory and "may" is permissive. Words not defined shall be given their common and ordinary meanings unless the context suggests otherwise. When a right or duty pertains to the holder of a specific position, such as the Mayor, Town Manager or Town Clerk, the same right or duty pertains to any designee to whom the holder of the position may lawfully delegate the right or duty.
APPOINTING AUTHORITY. The Town Manager, Mayor, Mayor and Council, or any other person who appoints a person to a public position.
ASSOCIATED. When used with reference to a business or an organization, includes any business or organization in which a public servant or a public servant's partner in interest is a director, officer or trustee, or owns or controls, directly or indirectly, and severally or in the aggregate, at least 30% of the outstanding equity, or any business or organization in which a public servant or a partner in interest has a personal interest.
BUSINESS. An activity, association, commercial entity, corporation, enterprise, firm, franchise, holding company, joint stock company, organization, partnership, receivership, self-employed individual, sole proprietorship, trust or other legal entity established to earn or otherwise obtain money, whether for profit or non-profit, excluding a municipal corporation or governmental entity.
BUSINESS ENTITY. Any corporation, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, general or limited partnership, sole proprietorship (including a private consultant operation), joint venture, unincorporated association or firm, institution, trust, foundation or other organization, whether or not operated for profit.
BUSINESS WITH WHICH A PUBLIC SERVANT IS ASSOCIATED. A business in which any of the following applies:
(1) The public servant is an owner, member, partner, director, officer, employee or independent contractor in relation to the business; or
(2) A public servant's partner in interest is an owner, partner, director or officer; or
(3) Any business, regardless of ownership or value, by whom or for whose benefit a decision maker is influenced to act in the hope or expectation of obtaining a personal benefit for the public servant or for a partner in interest of the public servant.
CANDIDATE. An individual who is a candidate for an elective town office, as defined in Article II of the Town Charter.
COMMISSION. means the Town of Chestertown Ethics Commission established pursuant to § 12-4(a).
COMPENSATION. Any money or thing of value, regardless of form, received or to be received by any individual covered by this chapter from an employer for service rendered or to be rendered. If lobbying is only a portion of a person's employment, COMPENSATION means a prorated amount based on the time devoted to lobbying compared to the time devoted to other employment duties. For reporting purposes, a prorated amount shall be labeled as such.
COMPLAINANT. A person who files a complaint with the Commission regarding an alleged violation of this chapter by any person.
CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION. Information which has been obtained in the course of holding public office, employment, an independent contract or otherwise acting as a public servant, and which information is not available to members of the public under the Maryland Public Information Law, State Government Article, §§ 10-601 -10-608, Annotated Code of Maryland, as amended from time to time, or other law or regulation and which the public servant is not authorized to disclose, including:
(1) Any written information that could lawfully be excepted from disclosure pursuant to state law, unless the public servant disclosing it is authorized to do so by state law, or pursuant to some other pertinent law, policy or procedure; and
(2) Any non-written information which, if it were written, could be excepted from disclosure under state law, unless the public servant disclosing it is authorized to do so by the state law, or pursuant to some other pertinent law, policy or procedure; and
(3) Information which was obtained in the course of or by means of a record or oral report of a lawful executive or closed session, whether or not the disclosure of the information would violate state law, unless the public servant disclosing it is authorized by state law to do so, or unless the public servant disclosing it has been properly authorized to disclose it pursuant to an applicable law, policy or procedure; however, when such information is also available through channels which are open to the public, this provision does not prohibit public servants from disclosing the availability of those channels.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Not only a personal interest, as defined in this chapter, but also a professional or non-pecuniary interest, such as arises when the Town Attorney is precluded from representing one public servant because of the Town Attorney's preexisting attorney-client relationship with another public servant.
DECISION MAKER. Any public servant or group of public servants empowered to act in a discretionary manner on behalf of the town in any capacity whatsoever, including the making of recommendations. DECISION MAKER includes, but is not limited to, any town agency, bureau, department, division, office, administrator or person who is charged with implementing and administering particular legislation or executive or administrative decisions, and, to the extent this chapter is applicable to them, any volunteer or independent contractor who is empowered to exercise any discretionary power which could influence a public servant in the performance or nonperformance of an official action. In this chapter, the term DECISION MAKER is used to represent any and every public servant who could take any discretionary action regarding a matter in which a public servant or a partner in interest has or may have a conflict of interest, or as a result of which a public servant might receive a personal benefit.
DOING BUSINESS WITH.
(1) Having or negotiating a contract that involves the commitment (either a single or combination of transactions) of $2,000 or more of town or town-controlled funds; or
(2) Being regulated by or otherwise under the authority of a Town agency; or
(3) Being registered as a lobbyist in accordance with § 12-9 of this chapter.
EMPLOYEE. A person, other than an elected public officer, employed and paid a salary to work for the town, whether under civil service or not, whether full-time, part-time, or on a contract basis, and including those officially selected but not yet serving; but does not include an independent contractor; and, for purposes of establishing ethical obligations under this chapter and for no other purpose, the term EMPLOYEE includes volunteers, notwithstanding the fact that they are unpaid.
(1) Ownership of any interest as the result of which the owner has received, within the past three years, or is presently receiving, or in the future is entitled to receive, more than $1,000 per year; or
(2) Ownership, or the ownership of securities of any kind representing or convertible into ownership, of more than 3% of a business entity.
GIFT. Any benefit or thing or act of value which is conveyed to or performed for the benefit of a public servant or a partner in interest, including any advance, award, contract, contribution, deposit, employment, favor, forbearance, gift, gratuity, honorarium, loan, payment, service, subscription, or the promise that any of these things or acts of value will be conferred in the future, if such thing or act of value is conferred or performed without the lawful exchange of consideration which is at least equal in value to the thing or act conferred or performed. GIFT does not include the solicitation, acceptance, receipt, or regulation of a political contribution that is regulated in accordance with:
(1) The Election Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland; or
(2) Any other state law regulating:
(a) The conduct of elections; or
(b) The receipt of political contributions.
(1) a public servant's spouse;
(2) a public servant's relative by marriage, lineal descent or adoption;
(3) A public servant's parents, parents-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, brothers, brothers-in-law, stepparents, stepbrothers, stepsisters or wards; and
(4) An individual claimed by the public servant or the public servant's spouse as a dependent under the United States Internal Revenue Code.
INTEREST. Any personal benefit accruing to a public servant or the public servant's partner in interest, whether in the public servant's own name or the name of any person or business from which the public servant is entitled to receive any personal benefit, as a result of a matter which is or which is expected to become the subject of an official action by or with the town. In proper context, INTEREST also means any legal or equitable economic interest, whether or not subject to an encumbrance or a condition, which was owned or held, in whole or in part, jointly or severally, directly or indirectly. For purposes of §§ 12-7 and 12-8 of this chapter, INTEREST applies to any interests held at any time during the calendar year for which a required statement is to be filed. INTEREST does not include:
(1) An interest held in the capacity of a personal agent, representative custodian, fiduciary, or trustee, unless the holder has an equitable interest therein;
(2) An interest in a time or demand deposit in a financial institution;
(3) An interest in an insurance or endowment policy or annuity contract under which an insurance company promises to pay a fixed number of dollars either in a lump sum or periodically for life or some other specified period; or
(4) A common trust fund or a trust which forms part of a pension or profit sharing plan which has more than 25 participants and which has been determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be a qualified trust under §§ 401 and 501 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.
(1) Communicating in the presence of a town official or employee with the intent to influence any official action of that official or employee; or
(2) Engaging in activities having the express purpose of soliciting others to communicate with a town official or employee with the intent to influence that official or employee.
LOBBYIST. A person required to register and report expenses related to lobbying under § 12-9 of this chapter.
MATTER. Unless the context of this chapter indicates otherwise, any act, action, agenda item, allegation, application, amendment, auction, bill, business, case, charge, claim, consideration, contract, controversy, decree, deed, deliberation, discussion, hearing, issue, lease, license, measure, offer, order, ordinance, permit, personnel action, petition, policy, presentation, procedure, privilege, proceeding, project, proposal, proposition, purchase, recommendation, regulation, rental, request, resolution, sale, subject, transaction, use, variance or other discretionary choice pending before a town decision maker when a public servant or a partner in interest has a personal interest in the outcome of the decision, or the decision may result in a personal benefit to a public servant or a partner in interest.
MINISTERIAL DUTY or MINISTERIAL ACTION. An action that a public servant performs in a given set of circumstances in a prescribed manner in obedience to the mandate of legal authority, without regard to the exercise of the public servant's own judgment as to the propriety of the action being taken.
NEGOTIATING CONCERNING PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYMENT. One or more discussions between a public servant and a potential employer other than the town concerning the possibility of the public servant or a partner in interest considering or accepting employment with the employer, in which discussion(s) the public servant responds in a positive way.
OFFICE. Any of the following:
(1) An elective position within the government of the town;
(2) An appointive town position in which a public servant serves for a specified term, except a position limited to the exercise of ministerial functions or a position filled by an independent contractor; or
(3) An appointive town position which is filled by the Mayor, the Mayor and Council, or the Town Manager, and in which the incumbent serves at the pleasure of the appointing authority, except a clerical position, a position limited to the exercise of ministerial functions or a position filled by an independent contractor.
OFFICER. Any person elected or appointed to hold an office, as defined in this chapter.
OFFICIAL. An elected official, an employee of the town, or a person appointed to or employed by the town or any town agency, board, commission, or similar entity, whether or not paid in whole or in part with town funds and whether or not compensated.
OFFICIAL ACTION. Any act, action, approval, decision, denial, directive, disapproval, inaction, order, performance, nonperformance, recommendation, vote, or other direct result of a public servant's exercise of discretionary authority in connection with the public servant's public position.
OFFICIAL DUTY. Any official action or ministerial action which a public servant is obligated or authorized to perform by virtue of being a public servant.
OFFICIAL RECORDS. Any minutes, papers, documents, completed forms, or other records maintained by a public servant for the purpose of fulfilling the disclosure requirements of this chapter.
PARTNER IN INTEREST. When used in this chapter in connection with a public servant, as in the phrase "a public servant or a partner in interest", any and all of the following:
(1) A member of the public servant's immediate family;
(2) A business with which the public servant or a member of the public servant's immediate family is associated; or
(3) Any other person with whom the public servant or a member of his immediate family is in business, or is negotiating or has an agreement concerning future employment or the future conferring of any personal benefit, whether in the public servant's own name or the name of any business or person from whom the public servant is entitled, or expects to become entitled, to receive any personal benefit, as a result of a contract or transaction which is, or which is expected to become, the subject of an official action by or with the town. The term PARTNER IN INTEREST does not imply or require any form of legal partnership or formal agreement.
(4) When used in the phrase "a public servant or a partner in interest," the term PARTNER IN INTEREST refers only to a partner in interest of the public servant to whom reference is being made, and not to any other person's partner in interest.
PERSON. Includes an individual or business entity.
PUBLIC SERVANT. Any member of the governing body or of any town agency, board, commission, committee, or other voting body, and any agent, department head, employee, official, supervisor, volunteer, or other person, whether elected or appointed, or legally authorized by contract or in any other manner to act in any capacity under the authority of the town.
QUALIFIED RELATIVE. A spouse, parent, child or sibling.
RESPONDENT. A person who, in a complaint filed with the Commission, is alleged to have committed a violation of this chapter.
STATEMENT. When used in reference to the financial disclosure requirements established by this chapter, means the prescribed form(s) for fulfilling the financial disclosure requirements.
VOLUNTEER. An individual who is permitted by the town, or by a person authorized to act on behalf of the town, to assist public servants in performing any kind of official duty or action, including actions which are clerical, menial or merely advisory, without any expectation of receiving compensation.
VOTING BODY. The governing body and any other town authority, board, commission, committee, council or group, regardless of whether its function is legislative, administrative, quasi-administrative or quasi-judicial or any combination thereof, which, in order to take any official action, even if the action is merely advisory, must act as a body on the basis of a vote of some or all of its members.
(Ord. 06-2012, passed 11-5-2012)