3450 Courthouse Drive
Ellicott City, MD 21043
3450 Courthouse Drive
The Howard County Ethics Commission consists of 5 members who are appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council. The Commission is responsible for administering the Howard County Public Ethics Law with respect to all public officials, officers and employees. Some of the Commission's major functions include rendering advisory opinions, receiving and reviewing financial disclosure statements, investigating complaints, and receiving and reviewing lobbyist registration and activity reports. The Commission meets on an as-needed basis in both open and closed session.
The General Assembly of Maryland, recognizing that our system of representative government is dependent in part upon the people maintaining the highest trust in their public officials and officers, have declared that the people have a right to be assured that the impartially and independent judgment of public officials and officers will be maintained. It is evident that this confidence and trust is eroded when the conduct of a County's business is subject to improper influence and even the appearance of improper influence.
For the purpose of guarding against improper influence, the General Assembly enacted Title 15 of the State Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland which required local governments to enact a public ethics law to require local officials to disclose their financial interests and to set minimum standards for their conduct of County business. Thus, Howard County enacted Subtitle 2, of Title 22 of the Howard County Code as the Howard County Public Ethics Law.
If you received a notification from the Ethics Commission requiring you to file a Financial Disclosure Statement: CLICK HERE TO FILE.
Please note that the Ethics Commission must verify and enter your email address into the electronic database before access will be granted. To be added to the electronic system, please send an email to Rhonda Karafa at [email protected] or call 410-313-3084. Include in your email the name of your department or the name of the Board or Commission on which you serve.
A person subject to the Public Ethics Law may request an Advisory Opinion from the Commission as to the application of the Public Ethics Law. An Advisory Opinion is an official statement of the Commission and can legally be relied upon by the person requesting it.
The Public Ethics Law prohibits certain activities that may result in a conflict of interest. Whether secondary employment is a violation of the Public Ethics Law will depend on a factual analysis and any employee who is concerned about secondary employment should request an Advisory Opinion from the Commission.
The Commission, on its own motion, or any person may file a complaint alleging a violation of any of the provisions of the Public Ethics law as follows:
(1) Complaints shall be in writing and made under oath.
(2) Complaints may be referred by the Commission to the County Solicitor or independent legal counsel if appropriate, for investigation and review.
(3) If, after receipt of an investigative report, the Commission determines that there are insufficient facts upon which to base a determination of a violation, the Commission may dismiss the complaint.
(4) If there is a reasonable basis for believing a violation has occurred, then the subject of the complaint shall be afforded an opportunity for a hearing conducted in accordance with the rules and procedures of the Commission.
(5) Final determinations resulting from hearings shall include findings of fact and conclusions of law.
(6) Upon finding a violation, the Commission may take any enforcement action provided for in accordance with section 22.208 of the Public Ethics Law.
(7) Until a final determination by the Commission, all actions regarding a complaint shall be treated confidentially.
To file a complaint, contact Kristen Perry at 410-313-3073.
Lobbying means communicating with any official or employee for the purpose of influencing any Executive or legislative action by a person required to register pursuant to the provisions of section 22.207 of the Public Ethics Law.