Primer for Public Ethics Procedures

1. The Maryland Code requires localities like University Park to oversee the public integrity of elected officials, candidates, and certain non-elected officials, appointees, and employees. Under the Town’s Code, the Mayor and Council appoint an ethics commission with three principal duties:

a. Examine disclosures of financial interests and business relationships that may bias public functions;

b. Provide advisory opinions to officials or other persons regarding potential conflicts of interest; and

c. Investigate complaints of a violation of public integrity.

2. All candidates for election as Town officials (including incumbents and newcomers) must file a Financial Disclosure form (PDF) when submitting petitions for candidacy. Elected officials in their non-election years also must file the form on or before April 30 with the Town Clerk. This statement lists all financial interests that might require an official to withdraw from participating in, or voting on, a public matter. The form also requires an acknowledgement of the continuing duty to avoid activities that might harm public integrity. Instructions for the form (PDF) are available.

3. Certain non-elected officials, appointees, and employees designated by town ordinance must file a Disclosure of Gifts (PDF) with the Town Clerk on or before April 30 each year.

4. The Town Clerk has a list of the Town’s current contractors and vendors to which filers can refer.

5. In addition, any person who is required to file a statement under paragraph 2 and 3 above has a continuing duty to file a report for a newly arising, actual, or potential, conflict of interest. A reporting form (PDF) to submit to the Ethics Commission c/o the Town Clerk is available.

6. Filings under the ethics ordinance are Maryland public records. A filer is entitled, however, to receive notice of the identity of a member of the public requesting examination of his or her submittal.

7. Steps to request an advisory opinion on potential ethical conflicts or to lodge a complaint for a breach of duties are found in the Town Code, Chapter 12, §108.

8. Questions on the procedures and requirements of the ethics law may be submitted to the Ethics Commission by letter c/o the Town Clerk, or by email.

See the Conflicts Explained Instruction Guide (PDF).