19A.04.02.04

.04 Conflicts of Interest.

A. Similarity to Public Ethics Law.

(1) Unless the Commission grants the county or municipality a modification or exemption as provided in COMAR 19A.04.03.03 in accordance with General Provisions Article, §§5-209 and 5-808, Annotated Code of Maryland, as applicable, to be equivalent to the requirements of and similar to the Public Ethics Law, the local ethics law shall address conflicts of interest restrictions as described in this regulation.

(2) A local law that includes conflicts of interest restrictions more stringent than the restrictions described in this regulation may be similar to the Public Ethics Law.

B. Disqualification.

(1) Comparison to Public Ethics Law.

(a) The local law shall include, for elected local officials, the disqualification and participation restrictions included in General Provisions Article, §5-501, Annotated Code of Maryland.

(b) When appropriate based on the local government structure and form, the local law may include, for elected local officials, the disqualification and participation restrictions included in General Provisions Article, §§5-512 and 5-513, Annotated Code of Maryland.

(2) The local law shall include a disqualification provision prohibiting a nonelected local official or local employee from participating, as a nonelected local official or local employee, in a county or municipal matter that would have a direct economic impact, distinct from the impact on the public at large, on the nonelected local official or local employee or that, to the knowledge of the nonelected local official or local employee, would have a direct economic impact on:

(a) A spouse, parent, sibling, or child of the nonelected local official or local employee; or

(b) A business entity with which any of the following is affiliated:

(i) The nonelected local official or local employee; or

(ii) A spouse, parent, sibling, or child of the nonelected local official or local employee.

(3) The local law may include provisions:

(a) Authorizing the agency responsible for implementing the law to grant exceptions to the participation restrictions when no conflict of interest exists or when the interest is too remote and insubstantial to affect the integrity of the public actions of the official or employee; and

(b) Authorizing participation notwithstanding a conflict when the disqualification would leave a body with less than a quorum capable of acting, the disqualified official or employee is required by law to act, or the disqualified official or employee is the only individual authorized to act.

C. Outside Employment.

(1) Comparison to Public Ethics Law.

(a) The local law shall include, for elected local officials, the secondary employment restrictions included in General Provisions Article, §§5-502, 5-503, and 5-504(a), Annotated Code of Maryland.

(b) When appropriate based on the local government structure and form, the local law may include, for elected local officials, the secondary employment restrictions included in General Provisions Article, §5-514, Annotated Code of Maryland.

(2) The local law shall prohibit, for local employees and nonelected local officials, outside employment with an entity that:

(a) Is subject to the authority of the local employee or nonelected local official or of the agency with which the nonelected local official or local employee is affiliated; or

(b) Is negotiating or has entered a contract with or is a subcontractor on a contract with the agency with which the nonelected local official or local employee is affiliated.

(3) The local law shall prohibit, for local employees and nonelected officials, outside employment that would impair the impartiality or independent judgment of the nonelected local official or local employee.

(4) The local law may include provisions authorizing the agency responsible for implementing the law:

(a) To grant exceptions to the outside employment restrictions when the outside employment does not create a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict; and

(b) To grant limited exemptions to the outside employment restrictions under extraordinary circumstances.

D. Financial Interests.

(1) Comparison to Public Ethics law.

(a) The local law shall include, for elected local officials, the financial interest restrictions included in General Provisions Article, §5-502, Annotated Code of Maryland.

(b) When appropriate, based on the local government structure and form, the local law may include, for elected local officials, the financial interest restrictions included in General Provisions Article, §5-514, Annotated Code of Maryland.

(2) The local law shall prohibit, for local employees and nonelected local officials, financial interests in an entity that:

(a) Is subject to the authority of the local employee or nonelected local official or of the agency with which the nonelected local official or local employee is affiliated; or

(b) Is negotiating or has entered a contract with or is a subcontractor on a contract with the agency with which the nonelected local official or local employee is affiliated.

(3) The local law may include provisions authorizing the agency responsible for implementing the law:

(a) To grant exceptions to the financial interest restrictions when the financial interest does not create a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict; and

(b) To grant limited exemptions to the financial interest restrictions under extraordinary circumstances.

E. Post-Employment.

(1) The local law shall include, for former elected local officials, the post-employment restrictions included in General Provisions Article, §5-504(d), Annotated Code of Maryland.

(2) The local law shall include a restriction on former nonelected local officials' and local employees' activities relating to cases, contracts, or other specific matters in which the former nonelected local officials or former local employees significantly participated in their local positions.

F. Prestige of Office.

(1) The local law shall include, for elected local officials, the prestige of office restrictions included in General Provisions Article, §5-506, Annotated Code of Maryland.

(2) The local law shall prohibit nonelected local officials and local employees from using their official positions or public positions for their private gain or the private gain of another.

G. Confidential Information.

(1) The local law shall include, for elected local officials, the restrictions on the use of confidential information included in General Provisions Article, §5-507, Annotated Code of Maryland.

(2) The local law shall prohibit nonelected local officials and local employees from using or disclosing, except in the discharge of an official duty, nonpublic information obtained in the course of official local duties for personal economic benefit or the economic benefit of another.

H. Gifts.

(1) The local law shall include, for elected local officials, the gift solicitation and acceptance restrictions included in General Provisions Article, §5-505, Annotated Code of Maryland.

(2) The local law shall prohibit nonelected local officials and local employees from:

(a) Soliciting gifts; and

(b) Directly soliciting or facilitating the solicitation of a gift, on behalf of another person, from an individual registered as a lobbyist under the local law.

(3) The local law shall prohibit nonelected local officials and local employees from accepting gifts from persons regulated by or contracting with the local entity with which the nonelected local official or local employee is affiliated.

(4) The local law shall define “gift”:

(a) To include the transfer of anything of economic value, regardless of the form, without adequate and lawful consideration; and

(b) To exclude contributions as defined in Election Law Article, Annotated Code of Maryland.

(5) The local law may:

(a) Include exceptions similar to the exceptions included in General Provisions Article, §5-505, Annotated Code of Maryland; and

(b) Include provisions to allow the local agency responsible for implementing the local ethics law to grant exceptions and exemptions from the gift acceptance prohibitions similar to the exception and exemption authority granted to the State Ethics Commission in General Provisions Article, §5-505, Annotated Code of Maryland.