During 2022-2023, the Ethics Commission held multiple public meetings to establish Advisory Opinion and Ethics Violation Complaint policies and procedures as permitted in the Code of Ordinances Section 2-204.
The following documents detail how to submit forms for review by the Ethics Commission. These policies and procedures may be reviewed annually and amended by a majority vote of the Ethics Commission.
In June, 2022 the Board of Selectmen appointed members to the newly established Ethics Commission.
In late 2021, the Board of Selectmen approved the incorporation of the Ethics Code into the Madison Code of Ordinances and with it, established a permanent Ethics Commission. The Committee consists of five (5) members and three (3) alternates, all resident electors, appointed by the Board of Selectmen and charged with the administration of the Ethics Code.
Any public member interested in working on this Committee in the future can complete the Application for Boards & Commissions. Any questions can be directed to Jaclyn Lehet at (203) 245-5602.
Sec. 2-204. Ethics commission.
(a) Creation; membership; appointment. Pursuant to the Town Charter and G.S. § 7-148h(a), there shall be an ethics commission consisting of five (5) members and three (3) alternates, all resident electors, appointed by the board of selectmen and charged with the administration of the ethics code.
Of the five (5) commission members, no more than two (2) shall be of the same political party. Of the five (5) members initially appointed, three (3) shall be appointed for a term of four (4) years and two (2) for a term of two (2) years. All subsequent appointments shall be for a term of four (4) years. Any regular commission member having served for eight (8) years in succession shall be ineligible for reappointment to the commission for a period of four (4) years.
The ethics commission shall elect from among its members a chair, a vice-chair, and other positions as deemed necessary.
At least three (3) commission members must be present and participating in order to constitute a quorum.
(b) Duties and powers. The role of the ethics commission is to:
(1) To provide advisory opinions regarding potential ethics violations, and
(2) To review and evaluate reports of perceived ethics violations by persons under the jurisdiction of the ethics code.
The ethics commission is advisory only. Actions reviewed by the commission and found to represent misconduct will be referred to the appropriate authority for further action. Any disciplinary action or counseling shall be administered by the appropriate authority and in compliance with the Town Charter.
The ethics commission shall promptly report suspected illegal activity to the appropriate authority.
(c) Confidentiality. Unless contrary to law, proceedings of the ethics commission and all material submitted in support thereof shall be kept confidential. This shall include any investigation of a complaint and all related materials, including minutes, records of testimony, and all other documents. The chair shall be responsible for the securing of confidential materials.
No provision of this section shall prevent the commission from referring a finding of ethical misconduct to the appropriate group (board of selectmen, police commission, board of education) or reporting a possible crime to the appropriate authority.
(d) Processes and procedures. A complaint of an ethics violation or a request for an advisory opinion is deemed to have been received by the ethics commission upon its delivery to the town clerk in a sealed envelope addressed to the chair of the ethics commission. Verbal, emailed, or unsealed inquiries and complaints will not be reviewed by the ethics commission.
Upon receipt of correspondence addressed to the chair of the ethics commission, the town clerk shall date-stamp the unopened envelope, apply a consecutive correspondence number, and inform the chair of the ethics commission that correspondence has been received. The town clerk shall maintain the correspondence under her/his control until turned over to the chair or vice chair of the ethics commission. The town clerk shall also maintain a log of correspondence numbers with dates received and dates turned over to the chair.
The commission chair or vice chair shall claim the correspondence from the town clerk, and if it concerns an alleged ethics violation or a request for an advisory opinion, shall acknowledge receipt to the correspondent in writing within ten (10) business days. The chair or vice chair will convene a meeting of the ethics commission within fifteen (15) business days of the receipt of the correspondence by the town clerk to review the correspondence and consider the appropriate course of action. The inquiry may be continued to additional meetings provided that all such meetings shall occur within ninety (90) business days of the receipt of the initial correspondence.
The commission may conduct further investigation that may involve meeting with the inquirer or complainant, and contacting others, including all parties named in the complaint for discussion and clarification.
The findings of the ethics commission shall be determined by a simple majority vote of all commission members. At least three (3) commission members must be present and participate in such vote in order to constitute a quorum.
(1) Procedure to request an advisory opinion. Any public official, employee, volunteer, consultant, or townsperson who has a question as to the applicability of any provisions of this ethics code may submit a written request for an advisory opinion to the ethics commission. A form for this purpose may be obtained from the town clerk's office, on the town web site, or from any member of the ethics commission.
The following information is required in a request for an advisory opinion:
- Name, address, and telephone number of the inquirer.
- Name and position of person(s) of concern in the inquiry.
- A statement of the facts and circumstances of the possible ethics issue.
- An inquiry into a request for an advisory opinion will determine the following:
- Is the matter under consideration under the purview of the ethics commission?
- Do the circumstances presented represent a potential violation of the ethics code?
- Are the circumstances of the inquiry governed by a collective bargaining agreement, employment contract, or other agreement or policy, the provisions of which would take precedence over a finding of the ethics commission?
The inquirer will receive a written opinion from the ethics commission.
(2) Procedure to report a perceived ethics violations. Any public official, employee volunteer, consultant, or townsperson who believes a person covered by the ethics code has committed an ethics violation may submit a written report of the perceived violation to the ethics commission. A form for this purpose may be obtained from the town clerk's office, on the town web site, or from the chair of the ethics commission.
The following information is required in a complaint of an ethics code violation:
- Name, address, and telephone number of the complainant.
- Name and position of the respondent (e.g. perceived to have violated the ethics code).
- Section of the ethics code allegedly violated.
- Date, time, and place of the matter in question.
- A short statement of the facts and circumstances alleged to constitute the violation including names and addresses of witnesses or persons involved.
- A signed statement by the complainant certifying the truth of the facts alleged.
- An inquiry into a perceived ethics violation will determine the following:
- Is the matter under consideration within the purview of the ethics commission?
- Would the acts alleged in the complaint, if proven, constitute a violation of the ethics code?
- Is there information that substantiates the complaint sufficient to warrant further proceedings?
- Are the respondent and the circumstances of the complaint governed by a collective bargaining agreement, employment contract, or other agreement or ethics code, the provisions of which would take precedence over a finding of the ethics commission?
In making a decision regarding an alleged violation, the ethics commission shall either:
- Dismiss the complaint if it finds that there has been no ethics code violation; or
- Find that there is evidence that an Ethics Code violation has occurred.
If the commission finds that an ethics violation has occurred, the commission will issue a written recommendation to the body with jurisdiction with copies to the complainant and respondent.
Copies of the complaint, and all records and documents pertaining thereto will be forwarded to the body with jurisdiction.
If the commission makes a finding of no ethics violation, the complainant will be notified of the finding in writing. The complaint and the record of its investigation shall remain confidential, except upon the request of the respondent and except that some or all of the record may be used in subsequent proceedings. No complainant, respondent, witness, designated party, or board or staff member shall disclose any information about the investigation, including knowledge of the existence of a complaint. Such a disclosure would, itself, be considered an ethics violation.
The commission chair shall maintain a separate file for each complaint to be maintained under seal in the office of the town clerk. Meetings of the commission will be recorded in minutes that will also be maintained under seal in the office of the town clerk.