81.08

OPINION NO. 81-8

An opinion has been requested as to whether the Chief Medical Officer (the Requestor) of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City is required to submit a financial disclosure statement under Title 4 of the Maryland Public Ethics Law (Article 40A, Annotated Code of Maryland, the Ethics Law), or whether he may be exempted from the requirement.

As the Chief Medical Officer for the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City, the Requestor is an employee of the judicial branch of State government. Section 1-201(z)(2) of the Ethics Law defines a "public official" to include "any individual in the judicial branch of government, including an individual...paid by a political subdivision to perform services in...Supreme Bench of Baltimore City...is classified or compensated at State grade level 18 or above...." The Requestor would therefore be a public official required to submit a financial disclosure statement under Title 4, if he meets the salary or compensation criteria set forth in the definition.

The Requestor was identified by the Administrative Judge of the Supreme Bench as a Supreme Bench employee meeting the Ethics Law salary criteria. The Administrative Judge indicated that the Chief Medical Officer is paid according to a Baltimore City salary schedule, with the base salary of the position equal to Grade 112, or Step 3, or $20,400 (as of June 1979). Personnel at the Supreme Bench indicate that the Chief Medical Officer is currently compensated at an annual salary equal to Grade 112, Step 8, substantially more than the starting salary of the position. Thus, both the Requestor's actual salary and the starting salary of his position were, as of January 1, 1980 at or above $19,619, the base salary for a State grade 18.

Though the base salary of a Baltimore Grade 112 (Step 1) was $18,500 as of January 1, 1980, we believe that the administrative determination of the employing agency that the base salary for this position is at Step 3 should be the controlling factor here. The Requestor's position as the Chief Medical Officer appears to us to be the type of responsible management position that is intended to be covered by the financial disclosure provisions of the Ethics Law. We therefore conclude that the Requestor is a public official under section 1-201(z) of the Ethics Law and required by section 4-102 to file a financial disclosure statement covering calendar year 1979. As we noted in Opinion No. 80-21, the Commission does not have the authority to exempt or exclude regular compensated employees from this class of officials.

Herbert J. Belgrad, Chairman
    Jervis S. Finney
    Reverend John Wesley Holland
    Barbara M. Steckel

Date: April 6, 1981