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A. Composition and Meetings of the Commission. There is hereby created a commission to be known as the Ethics Commission of McHenry County.
1. The Commission shall be comprised of five (5) members appointed by the Chair of the McHenry County Board with the advice and consent of the County Board. No person shall be appointed as a member of the Commission who is related, either by blood or by marriage up to the degree of first cousin, to any elected officer of McHenry County.
2. At the first meeting of the Commission, the initial appointees shall draw lots to determine their initial terms. Three commissioners shall serve two-year terms, and two commissioners shall serve one-year terms. Thereafter, all commissioners shall be appointed to 2-year terms. Commissioners may be reappointed to serve subsequent terms.
3. At the first meeting of the Commission, the commissioners shall choose a chair from their number. Meetings shall be held at the call of the chair or any three (3) commissioners. A quorum shall consist of three (3) commissioners, and official action by the commission shall require the affirmative vote of three (3) members.
4. The County Board Chair, with the advice and consent of the County Board, may remove a commissioner in case of incompetence, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office after service on the commissioner by certified mail, return receipt requested, of a copy of the written charges against the commissioner and after providing an opportunity to be heard in person or by counsel upon not less than ten (10) days’ notice. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as original appointments.
B. Powers and Duties of the Commission.
1. The Commission shall have the following powers and duties:
a. To promulgate procedures and rules governing the performance of its duties and the exercise of its powers.
b. Upon receipt of a signed, notarized, written complaint, to investigate, conduct hearings and deliberations, impose fines in accordance with § 2.64.070C. of this Ordinance, and refer violations of §§ 2.64.030 and 2.64.040 of this Ordinance to the McHenry County State’s Attorney for prosecution. The Commission shall, however, act only upon the receipt of a written complaint alleging a violation of this Ordinance and not upon its own prerogative.
c. To receive information from the public pertaining to its investigations and to require additional information and documents from persons who may have violated the provisions of this Ordinance.
d. To compel the attendance of witnesses and to compel the production of books and papers pertinent to an investigation. It is the obligation of all officers and employees of the County of McHenry to cooperate with the Commission during the course of its investigations. Failure or refusal to cooperate with requests by the Commission shall constitute grounds for discipline or discharge.
2. The powers and duties of the Commission are limited to matters clearly within the purview of this Ordinance.
C. Complaint Procedure. Complaints alleging a violation of this Ordinance shall be filed with the Ethics Commission.
1. Within five (5) business days after the receipt of a complaint, the Commission shall send by certified mail, return receipt requested, a notice to the respondent that a complaint has been filed against him or her and a copy of the complaint. The Commission shall send by certified mail, return receipt requested, a confirmation of the receipt of the complaint to the complainant within five (5) business days after receipt by the commission. The notices to the respondent and the complainant shall also advise them of the date, time, and place of the meeting to determine the sufficiency of the complaint and to establish whether probable cause exists to proceed.
2. Upon not less than 48 hours public notice, the Commission shall meet to review the sufficiency of the complaint and, if the complaint is deemed sufficient to allege a violation of this Ordinance, to determine whether there is probable cause, based on evidence presented by the complainant, to proceed. The meeting may be closed to the public to the extent authorized by the Open Meetings Act. The Commission shall issue notice to the complainant and the respondent of the Commission’s ruling on the sufficiency of the complaint and, if necessary, on probable cause to proceed within thirty days after receiving the complaint.
3. If a complaint is filed during the sixty (60) days preceding the date of any election at which the respondent is a candidate, the Commission shall render its decision as required under subsection C.1. within seven (7) days after the complaint is filed, and during the seven (7) days preceding that election, the Commission shall render such decision before the date of that election.
4. A complaint alleging the violation of this Act must be filed within one year after the alleged violation.
D. Violations. If the complaint is deemed sufficient to allege a violation of § 2.64.030 of this Ordinance, then the Commission shall refer the complaint to the McHenry County State’s Attorney and transmit to the State’s Attorney the complaint and all additional documents in the custody of the Commission concerning the alleged violation.
E. Violations. If the complaint is deemed sufficient to allege a violation of § 2.64.040 of this Ordinance and there is a determination of probable cause, then the Commission’s notice to the parties shall include a hearing date scheduled within six weeks after receipt of the complaint. Alternatively, the Commission may elect to notify in writing the McHenry County State’s Attorney and request that the complaint be adjudicated judicially. If the complaint is deemed not sufficient to allege a violation or if there is no determination of probable cause, then the Commission shall send by certified mail, return receipt requested, a notice to the parties of the decision to dismiss the complaint, and that notice shall be made public.
1. On the scheduled date and upon at least 48 hours’ public notice of the meeting, the Commission shall conduct a hearing on the complaint and shall allow both parties the opportunity to present testimony and evidence. The hearing may be closed to the public only if authorized by the Open Meetings Act.
2. Within thirty (30) days after the date the hearing or any recessed hearing is concluded, the Commission shall either: dismiss the complaint, or issue a recommendation for a fine.
3. The particular findings in the case and any fine imposed shall be a matter of public information.
4. If the hearing was closed to the public, the respondent may file a written demand for a public hearing on the complaint within seven (7) business days after the imposition of a fine. The filing of the demand shall stay the enforcement of the recommendation or fine. Within fourteen (14) days after receiving the demand, the Commission shall conduct a public hearing on the complaint upon at least forty-eight (48) hours public notice of the hearing and allow both parties the opportunity to present testimony and evidence. Within seven (7) days thereafter, the Commission shall publicly issue a decision to impose a fine upon the violator.
5. The Commission may fine any person who intentionally violates any provision of § 2.64.040 of this Ordinance in an amount of not less than $1,001 and not more than $5,000. The Commission may fine any person who knowingly files a frivolous complaint alleging a violation of this Ordinance in an amount not less than $1,001 and not more than $5,000.
(Ord. O-201205-12-027, § 6, passed 5-15-2012)