Jefferson County - Ordinances
Code of Ethics

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The County Board of Supervisors of the County of Jefferson, State of Wisconsin, do ordain as follows:

10.01 TITLE. This ordinance shall be known as, referred to or cited as the 1978 Jefferson County Code of Ethics.

10.02 DECLARATION OF POLICY. The proper operation of democratic government requires that public officials and employees be independent, impartial and responsible to the people; that government decisions and policies be made in proper channels of the government structure; that public office and employment not be used for improper personal gain; and that the public have confidence in the integrity of its government. The County Board believes that a code of ethics for the guidance of County officials and employees will help them avoid conflicts which are substantial and material between their personal interests and their public responsibilities. Nothing herein contained is intended to deny to any individual, rights granted by the United States Constitution, the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin, the laws of the State of Wisconsin or by labor agreements negotiated with bargaining representatives.

10.03 DEFINITIONS. In this ordinance:

(1) "Official" means all County department heads, County Supervisors, all other County elected officers, except judges.

(2) "Employee" means all persons filling an allocated position of County employment and all members of boards, committees and commissions not included in (1).

(3) "Immediate family" means any individual at least sixteen years of age related to an official or employee as husband, wife, minor child or legal dependent for federal income tax purposes.

(4) "Anything of value" means any money or property, favor, service, payment, subscription, advance, forbearance, loan or promise of future employment, but DOES NOT INCLUDE: compensation and expenses paid by the County, speaking fees, honorariums and expenses, political contributions which are properly reported, occasional meals and beverages, unsolicited advertising or promotional material such as pens, pencils, note pads, calendars and other items of nominal value, or hospitality extended for a nonbusiness purpose.

(5) "Privileged information" means written or oral material related to County government which has not become part of the body of public information and which is designated by statute, court decision, lawful orders or custom as privileged.

10.04 DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION. (1) Not later than April 30, 1978, officials shall file with the County Administrator a true statement containing information herein determined to be pertinent to public office. Officials elected or appointed after April 30, 1978, shall file such statement within ten days after taking office. Officials shall file updated statements no later than April 30th of each year. Such statements shall be public records and open to public inspection.

(2) Every candidate for election to the office of County supervisor or any other County elected office, except judicial office, shall file with the County Administrator the required statement within ten days after filing nomination papers or within ten days after any other form of nomination. The statements of candidates shall be public records and open to public inspection until ten days after the election. Thereafter, such statements shall be sealed and designated privileged and subject to examination only upon order of a court of record.

(3) Form of Statement. Officials shall file the required statement on forms furnished by the County Administrator and shall include:

(a) The name and address of the official and the names and addresses of the immediate family.

(b) The nature and source of the principal income of the official.

(c) The names and addresses of all creditors to whom the official or a member of his immediate family is indebted more than $5,000.00, excluding the indebtedness on the official's principal residence and excluding the indebtedness to any person, business, corporation or partnership not residing in, located in or conducting business in the County of Jefferson.

(d) The names and addresses of all corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships other than religious, political or charitable organizations in which the official or a member of his immediate family holds any office or directorship, excluding any such corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship located outside Jefferson County and not conducting business in Jefferson County.

(e) The identity of real property located in Jefferson County other than the principal residence in which the official or a member of his immediate family owns an interest. If such interest is a fractional share of not more than one-tenth, it is not necessary to report such interest.

10.05 RESPONSIBILITY OF PUBLIC OFFICE. Officials and employees are agents of public purpose and hold office for the benefit of the public. They are bound to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin and to carry out impartially the laws of the nation, state and county, and to observe in their official acts the highest standards of conduct and to discharge faithfully the duties of their office, regardless of personal considerations, recognizing that the public interests must be their primary concern.

10.06 FAIR AND EQUAL TREATMENT. (1) Use of Public Property. No official or employee shall use or knowingly permit the use of County services or County-owned vehicles, equipment, materials for unauthorized nongovernmental purposes or for unauthorized personal convenience or profit unless such services or use are available to the general public.

(2) Obligations to Citizens. No official or employee shall grant any special consideration, treatment or advantage to any citizen beyond that which is available to every other citizen.

10.07 CONFLICT OF INTEREST. (1) Financial and Personal Interest Prohibited. No official or employee shall engage in any business or transaction or shall act in regard to financial or personal interest, direct or indirect, which is incompatible with the proper discharge of his official duties or which would tend to impair his independence of judgment or action in the performance of his official duties.

(2) Special Conflicts Enumerated. Conflicts of interest prohibited under this section shall include, but not be limited to the following:

(a) Incompatible Employment. No official or employee shall engage in or accept private employment or render service for private interest when such employment or service is incompatible with the proper discharge of his official duties or would tend to impair his independence of judgment or action in the performance of his official duties, unless otherwise permitted by law.

(b) Disclosure of Privileged Information. No official or employee shall, without lawful authority, knowingly disclose or knowingly permit the disclosure of privileged information to any person not lawfully authorized to receive such privileged information. No official or employee shall use privileged information to advance the financial or personal interest of himself or his immediate family.

(c) Gifts and Favors. No official or employee shall accept, from any person or organization directly or indirectly, anything of value without full payment therefor if it could reasonably be expected to influence his vote, governmental actions or judgment or could reasonably be considered as a reward for any governmental action or inaction.

10.08 COMPLIANCE WITH STATE STATUTES. (1) The following sections of the Wisconsin Statutes are hereby incorporated by reference and made a part of this Code of Ethics:

s. 19.01 - Oaths and Bonds

s. 19.21 - Custody and Delivery of Official Property and Records

s. 19.81 through s. 19.89 - Open Meeting of Governmental Bodies

s. 946.13 - Private Interest in Public Contract Prohibited

(2) Officials shall comply with the provisions of these enumerated sections of the Wisconsin Statutes and failure to so comply shall constitute a breach of the Code of Ethics.

10.09 ETHICS CODE ADMINISTRATOR. (1) There is hereby created the position of Ethics Code Administrator. The incumbent Jefferson County District Attorney shall serve as Ethics Code Administrator. He shall receive no additional compensation for the services rendered.

(2) The Ethics Code Administrator shall develop written rules or procedures and forms, copies of which shall be filed in the office of the County Administrator.

(3) The Ethics Code Administrator shall receive complaints concerning alleged violations of this Ethics Ordinance and may independently initiate investigations of possible violations of the Ethics Code.

(4) The Ethics Code Administrator shall conduct a fair and impartial investigation of alleged violations of the Ethics Code and if he determines no violation occurred, the matter shall be terminated with an appropriate communication to the complainant. If the Ethics Code Administrator determines there is probable cause to believe the Ethics Code has been violated he may, in his discretion, take one or more of the following courses of action:

(a) He may write a letter to the official or employee directing compliance with the provisions of the Ethics Code.

(b) If the facts pertaining to the alleged violation are not in dispute he may write a letter of reprimand to the official or employee, with a copy to the County Administrator. Such letter shall be a public record available for inspection.

(c) If the facts pertaining to the alleged violation are not in dispute he may file a written report with the Board of Supervisors, together with a proposed resolution of censure. The Board of Supervisors shall conduct no further investigation and the Board may adopt such resolution of censure.

(d) He may commence an action in the name of the County of Jefferson seeking a forfeiture, writ of mandamus or injunction in a proper court of record.

(5) If a complaint is made that the District Attorney or any member of his staff violated the Code of Ethics, or if the District Attorney for any other reason disqualifies himself, the matter shall be referred to the Corporation Counsel for initial investigation. If such initial investigation reveals cause to proceed, the Corporation Counsel and the County Administrator shall retain the services of a disinterested attorney practicing law in Jefferson County to serve as temporary Ethics Code Administrator. Such attorney shall temporarily perform all the duties of Ethics Code Administrator.

(6) Any official or employee may refer to the Ethics Code Administrator any question pertaining to the interpretation or application of the Code of Ethics. The Ethics Code Administrator shall give written reply to such question and may publicize such reply (excluding names and other unnecessary details) as a guide to other officials and employees.

10.10 PENALTIES. (1) Any person violating the provisions of this ordinance shall be subject to reprimand, censure or civil prosecution in a court of record.

(2) Any person violating the provisions of this ordinance and convicted in a court of record shall be indebted and required to pay to the County of Jefferson a forfeiture of not less than $10.00 nor more than $500.00, together with taxable costs, and, upon default in the payment of such forfeiture and costs, may be incarcerated in the County Jail until such forfeiture and costs are paid, but in no event shall such confinement exceed thirty days.

10.11 EFFECTIVE DATE. This ordinance shall take effect on April 15, 1978, after passage and publication according to law.