(A)   Establishment. There is hereby established in the city an Ethics Commission, consisting of the City Council. The Ethics Commission may contract for services to assist in the performance of its duties.
   (B)   Powers and duties.
      (1)   The Ethics Commission has the following powers and duties:
         (a)   To adopt rules and procedures to govern the performance of the Commission's duties and the exercise of its powers as deemed necessary or appropriate, including the receipt and processing of complaints and other information, issuance of subpoenas, exercise of investigatory powers, and preparation of reports, among other procedures;
         (b)   The Commission may delegate to a subcommittee of the Commission or to the Audit Committee its authority to conduct investigations pursuant to this section, and require a report of the subcommittee's findings to the full Commission for final action; and
         (c)   In the event that a member of the Commission is the subject of a claimed violation of this chapter, that Commissioner must immediately recuse himself or herself from the investigation and shall take no part in the final action of the Commission regarding the claimed violation.
      (2)   The powers and duties of the Commission are limited to matters clearly within the purview of this chapter.
   (C)   Complaint procedure.
      (1)   Filing a complaint. A complaint alleging a violation of this chapter must be filed with the Ethics Officer or, if the subject of the complaint is the Ethics Office, then with the Mayor. The complaint must be in writing and signed by the complainant and must include a description of the circumstances and facts to support any allegations of a violation of this chapter. Upon receipt of a complaint, the Ethics Officer or the Mayor, as the case may be, must forward the complaint to the Ethics Commission. A complaint alleging the violation of this chapter must be filed within two years after the alleged violation.
      (2)   Notice. Within three business days after the filing of an ethics complaint, the Commission must notify: (a) the respondent that a complaint has been filed and include a copy of the complaint; and (b) the complainant of its receipt of the complaint. These notices must also include the date, time and place of the initial meeting of the Commission held pursuant to (C)(3) below.
      (3)   Initial meeting. Within 14 business days after receipt of the complaint, the Commission shall meet in a closed session at a duly noticed meeting to determine whether the complaint sufficiently alleges a violation of this chapter and whether there is probable cause to proceed. If the complaint is deemed to sufficiently allege a violation of this chapter and there is a determination of probable cause, then the Commission must notify both parties of its determination and the date, time and place of the meeting held pursuant to (C)(4) below. If the Commission determines, in its discretion, that the complaint is insufficient, frivolous, or that there is no probable cause, then the Commission must notify the parties of its decision to dismiss the complaint.
      (4)   Subsequent meeting if complaint is sufficient and there is probable cause. Within 30 days of the Commission's determination that the complaint is sufficient and there is probable cause, the Commission shall conduct a closed session on the complaint and allow both parties the opportunity to present testimony and evidence.
      (5)   Decision.
         (a)   Within two weeks after the conclusion of the meeting held pursuant to (C)(4) above, the Commission must either:
            1.   Dismiss the complaint; or
            2.   Issue a decision finding a violation and, if appropriate, recommending the imposition of one or more penalties in accordance with § 40.99 of this chapter.
         (b)   Notice of the Commission's decision will be sent to the complainant and the respondent.
      (6)   Impact of election. If the complaint is filed during the 60 days preceding the date of any election at which the respondent is a candidate, the Commission shall render its decision within seven days after the complaint is filed, and during the seven days preceding that election, the Commission shall tender the decision before the date of the election, if possible.
   (D)   Appeal. The Ethics Commission's decision finding a violation is a final administrative decision subject to judicial review under the Administrative Review Law.
   (E)   Exemption. The proceedings conducted, and documents generated, under this chapter are exempt from the provisions of the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act, except as expressly provided.
(Ord. 2019-44, passed 10-21-2019)