Article I - Membership
1.) The Legislative Ethics Commission shall consist of nine (9) members to be appointed in the manner set forth in § 80 of the Legislative Law.
2.) There shall be two co-chairs to be appointed in the manner set forth in § 80 of the Legislative Law.
Article II - Meetings
1.) The Commission shall meet at least bi-monthly and at such additional times as may be called for. A meeting of the Legislative Ethics Commission may be called (a) by the co-chairs jointly, or (b) by any five (5) members of the Commission.
2.) The written notice, if any, of any meeting of the Commission shall be given to all members as soon as practicable prior to the meeting.
3.) Five (5) members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum, and the Commission shall have power to act by majority vote of the total number of members of the Commission without vacancy.
4.) The co-chairs shall alternate presiding unless they shall agree otherwise. In the event that only one co-chair is present at any meeting, that co-chair shall preside. In the event that neither of the co-chairs is in attendance, the members present shall designate a member to preside over the meeting.
5.) No meeting or proceeding of the Commission shall be open to the public, except if expressly provided otherwise by the Commission. Except for Commission staff, no legislative staff shall be permitted to attend meetings except as provided for in these bylaws.
6.) The majority and minority members of the Commission from each house shall choose a conference staff person at their discretion to attend the meetings and provide counsel and support to their appointing member. Such conference counsel shall report directly to their appointing member and adhere to all confidentiality requirements of the Commission in their role as conference counsel. Attendance at closed Commission meetings shall be permitted to any other persons authorized by the Commission.
7.) Minutes shall be taken at all meetings and shall include a summary consisting of at least all motions, resolutions and any other matter formally voted upon and the vote then recorded.
8.) The Commission may meet by teleconference or videoconference, if necessary. Members must be present to vote and shall not be permitted to vote by proxy.
Article III - Operations
1.) Executive Director--The Commission shall appoint an Executive Director who shall act in accordance with the statute and bylaws of the Commission.
2.) Authority to Retain Staff-- The Commission shall appoint such staff members as the majority shall approve and may appoint additional staff or replace staff at any time during any calendar year. Staff shall serve at the pleasure of the Commission.
3.) Duties--The duties of the Executive Director shall include but not be limited to (a) assuring that the staff of the Commission functions to assist the members in meeting their duties and responsibilities under the law; (b) insuring that the Commission is kept apprised of all official matters directed to it; (c) handling routine administrative matters necessary to the internal operations of the Commission; (d) making recommendations concerning the retention of staff by the Commission; (e) making recommendations as to the procurement of major pieces of equipment that will be needed by the Commission to carry out its responsibilities; (f) appointing a staff member as records access officer; (g) insuring that, to the fullest extent possible, any staff hired by the Commission shall treat all matters before the Commission and any information submitted to the Commission with complete confidentiality; (h) preparing informal, written opinions consistent with previous approved, formal Commission opinions. (i) such other duties as required by the co-chairs or the Commission.
4.) Prohibited Activities--In order to maintain fair and effective functioning of the Legislative Ethics Commission, it is necessary that employees of the Commission not participate in partisan politics. It is also necessary that such employees appear independent of partisan political involvement, if confidence in the functioning of the Legislative Ethics Commission is to be maintained. The Commission shall maintain a set of rules and regulations to assure that staff avoid partisanship and the appearance of partisanship at all times.
5.) (a) The Commission shall promulgate rules and regulations setting out procedures regarding the handling of 1) requests for advisory opinions, 2) filing, review and transfer to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics of financial disclosure statements, 3) penalty assessment matters within the jurisdiction of the Commission.
(b) All requests for formal advisory opinions shall be made in writing. Upon receipt of a request for a formal advisory opinion, the request will be logged by Commission staff and assigned a number for completion. The individual requesting the opinion will be notified of the receipt of the request. The opinion is complete upon a majority vote of approval or disapproval by the Commission.
(c) Requests for informal advisory opinions may be made verbally, or in writing. Commission staff shall respond to the request in writing and will draft the opinion consistent with previous Commission approved guidance on the matter.
(i) The Commission shall publish a mailing address/post office box and email address to which all advisory opinions may be forwarded.
6.) Oaths of Office--Every Commissioner shall file an Oath of Office, as required by Public Officers Law § 10, within thirty days of being appointed to the Commission. Such Oath of Office shall be filed with the office of the Secretary of State and a copy shall be kept on file at the office of the Commission.
Article III-A - Confidentiality
1) The individual's right to privacy shall be protected at all times, within the limits permitted in the Public Employee Ethics Reform Act of 2007. As prescribed in Subdivision 12 of § 80, Legislative Law, the only records of the Commission, pertaining to an individual, which shall be available for public inspection and copying are (1) the terms of any settlement or compromise of a complaint or referral report which includes a fine, penalty or other remedy reached after the commission has received a report from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, (2) generic advisory opinions, (3) all reports required by Legislative Law § 80.
2) Staff shall treat all matters before the Commission and any information submitted to the Commission with complete confidentiality. Such matters include, but are not limited to; formal and informal advisory opinion requests; informal advice and guidance requests and communications.
3) The Executive Director shall supervise procedures for logging in any and all confidential material each business day, and for assigning file numbers to requests for advisory opinions and substantial investigation reports forwarded by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. On any matter relating to an individual, minutes of the Commission shall only reflect the file number of the matter, unless the minutes refer to a public record of the Commission.
4) The Commission shall promulgate rules and regulations for making available records subject to public disclosure. Under conditions set forth by the Commission, such records may be made available for inspection and copying at the office of the Commission. Public records of the Commission and any other records deemed appropriate by the commission shall be posted on the Commission's public web site pursuant to Legislative Law § 80 (13). The Commission shall establish a records access officer and a records appeal officer.
Article IV - Hearings
The Commission shall promulgate rules and regulations setting out procedures for adjudicatory hearings in accordance with § 80 of the Legislative Law.
Article V - Annual Report
The Commission shall prepare an annual report summarizing its activities. Such report shall include training statistics, general guidance topics, and disposition and settlement data.
Article VI - Adoption and Amendment of Bylaws
1) Upon approval by a majority vote of the total number of members of the Commission without vacancy, these bylaws thereby shall be deemed adopted and become the bylaws of the Commission.
2) These bylaws may be amended, repealed, changed or modified not inconsistent with applicable law by a majority vote of the total number of members of the Commission without vacancy.
As adopted, January 3, 2022