The Ethics Board oversees and enforces Baltimore’s Ethics Law. With the help of its dedicated staff in the Office of the Inspector General, the Board fulfills the following responsibilities:
Complaints and Investigations
Anyone may file a confidential complaint with the Ethics Board if they suspect a violation of the Ethics Law. Board staff will thoroughly investigate each complaint and inform the complainant of the outcome of the case.
Enforcement and Discipline
If the Board finds that someone violated the Ethics Law, it may take appropriate action against the violator, including:
- Issuing a cease and desist order
- Issuing a reprimand
- Referring the matter to supervisory officials for discipline
- Referring the matter for criminal prosecution
- Seeking judicial relief, including civil and criminal penalties
The Board may also issue fines and impose other penalties for a City official/employee’s failure to timely file required financial disclosure statements, and for a lobbyist’s failure to register or otherwise comply with lobbying requirements.
Public Awareness and Education
The Board is required to offer ethics training to all City officials within 6 months of their start date, then routinely thereafter. The Ethics Board currently provides the training as an online, self-paced course. Anyone may register for the Ethics Training.
Advisory Opinions and Other Guidance
Board staff are available to answer any questions about the Ethics Law from City officials, employees, and members of the public alike. Additionally, City officials and employees may ask the Board for written guidance—in the form of an advisory opinion—on how the Ethics Law applies to them and their particular situation. The Board will also consider requests for advisory opinions from members of the public. When in doubt, ask!
Collection and Review of Financial Disclosure Statements and Other Forms
Many City officials and employees must file financial disclosure statements when they begin working for the City and then annually, as well as when they leave City employment. Board staff collect and review these disclosure statements for completeness and accuracy, and makes them available to members of the public.
The Ethics Board is also responsible for collecting and reviewing a number of other forms, including:
- Conflicts Affidavits: Within 6 months of beginning City employment, officials are required to certify that they have read and understand the Ethics Law’s conflict of interest provisions, that they are not in violation of those provisions, and that they will comply with those provisions in all of their activities.
- Written Notice to New Appointees: All new City employees and officials must be given notice of their obligations under the Ethics Law, including training and financial disclosure obligations. These notices must be signed by the official/employee and the appropriate supervisory authority.
- Annual Reports from Agencies: Before January 1 of each year, every agency head must provide the Ethics Board with the names and position numbers of all officials/employees required to file financial disclosure statements.
- Candidates’ Financial Disclosures: All candidates running for City office must file initial and annual financial disclosure statements.
Lobbyist Registration and Reporting
Anyone involved in lobbying activities related to City policy, legislation, procurement, or other governmental matters must register as a lobbyist annually with the Ethics Board and file semi-annual reports.