February 4, 2011
LEGISLATIVE CODES OF CONDUCT
By: Terrance Adams, Legislative Analyst II
You asked us to update OLR Report 2008-R-0049, which described legislative codes of conduct over which legislative ethics committees have jurisdiction. You also asked us to include Congress in this report.
Both houses of Congress have codes of conduct, which are described in Table 1. Additionally, we identified 20 states (two more than the 2008 report) that meet your query. These include states with both a formal “code of legislative conduct” and those that specify prohibited legislative conduct (aside from rules on decorum) in their rules or in state statute without formally organizing them in a code of conduct. Table 2 consists of a summary of the codes or prohibited conduct by state and, where appropriate, by legislative chamber.
As with our previous report, we only included states that have (1) a state ethics commission with jurisdiction over legislators and legislative staff and (2) at least one chamber with a legislative ethics committee or the authority to convene one. In most cases, codes or provisions of ethical conduct that are specific to legislators are found in the chambers' rules rather than state statutes.
Table 1: Codes of Conduct for Congress
Senate SR XXIV-XLIII
The Senate Code of Official Conduct is contained in Senate Rules XXIV-XLIII. The rules cover:
n public financial disclosure,
n outside earned income,
n conflict of interest,
n prohibition of unofficial office accounts,
n foreign travel,
n franking privilege and radio and television studios,
n political fund activity,
n employment practices, and
n representation by members.
The full 57-page code is available at http://ethics.senate.gov/downloads/pdffiles/small_books/CodeOfConduct.pdf
House HR XIII
Members, delegates, resident commissioners, officers, and employees:
n shall behave at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House;
n must adhere to the spirit and the letter of the House rules and those of its duly
n may neither receive compensation nor permit it to accrue for his or her benefit from
any source, the receipt of which would occur by virtue of influence improperly exerted
from the position of such individual in Congress;
n with certain exceptions, may not accept gifts or accept an honorarium for a speech, a
writing for publication, or other similar activity; or
n may not discharge and may not refuse to hire an individual, or otherwise discriminate
against an individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of
employment, because of the race, color, religion, sex (including marital or parental
status), disability, age, or national origin of such individual, but may take into
consideration the domicile or political affiliation of such individual.
Members, delegates, and resident commissioners:
n may not (a) comingle campaign and personal funds; (b) convert campaign funds to personal use except to reimburse legitimate and verifiable campaign expenditures; or, (c) with certain exceptions, expend campaign funds on non-campaign or non-political purposes;
n must treat as campaign contributions all proceeds from testimonial dinners or other
n may not retain the spouse of such individual in a paid position, and an employee of
the House may not accept compensation for work for a committee on which the
spouse of such employee serves as a member;
n if convicted of a crime punishable by at least two years' imprisonment, should not participate in the business of his or her assigned committees and should not vote on any question at a meeting of the House or of the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the union, unless or until judicial or executive proceedings result in reinstatement of the presumption of the innocence of such member or until the member is reelected to the House after the date of such conviction;
n may not access classified information without swearing an oath not to disclose the
information except as authorized by the House;
n may not, with the intent to influence on the basis of partisan political affiliation an
employment decision or employment practice of any private entity, take or withhold, or
offer or threaten to take or withhold, an official act; or influence, or offer or threaten
to influence, the official act of another;
n with certain exceptions, may not use personal funds, official funds, or campaign
funds for a flight on an aircraft; or
n may not condition the inclusion of language to provide funding for a congressional
earmark, a limited tax benefit, or a limited tariff benefit in any bill or joint resolution (or
an accompanying report) or in any conference report on a bill or joint resolution
(including an accompanying joint explanatory statement of managers) on any vote
cast by another member, delegate, or resident commissioner. They must also
identify themselves, the beneficiary, and the purpose and certify that they have no
Members, delegates, and resident commissioners, and officers may not retain an employee who does not perform duties for the offices of the employing authority commensurate with the compensation such employee receives.
Table 2: Legislative Codes of Conduct and Prohibited Conduct
Senate (SR 48(22))
No formal legislative code of conduct. The rules authorize the Senate Ethics and Conduct Committee to consider and act upon complaints alleging misconduct. Under the rule, “misconduct” means any conduct:
n constituting a legal wrong that materially impairs the ability of the member to perform the duties of his or her office or substantially impairs public confidence in the legislature;
n that intentionally violates any Senate Rule in the conduct of Senate business, whether official or unofficial business;
n that violates any provision of the state ethics law;
n prohibited by the Constitution of Alabama of 1901; and
n that constitutes sexual harassment.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct is the basis for employment decisions, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. In determining whether alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment, the committee must look at the record as a whole and the totality of the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. The determination of the legality of a particular action will be made from the facts, on a case by case basis.
Intentionally filing a false complaint with the committee or filing a complaint in reckless disregard of the truth also constitutes misconduct.
Joint (AS 24.60)
The joint Legislative Ethics Committee is responsible for administering the Legislative Ethics Code (AS § 24.60 et seq.), which is set out in statute and applies to legislators, most legislative branch employees, and the committee's five public members. The committee receives and investigates complaints alleging code violations.
Generally, the Legislative Ethics Code contemplates:
n prohibitions related to conflicts of interest and unethical conduct,
n restrictions on fund raising,
n restrictions on employee candidacies,
n open meeting guidelines,
n outside employment,
n financial disclosure,
n gifts, and
In addition, the code prohibits a legislator from:
n directly or indirectly subjecting a person to reprisal, harassment, or discrimination if that individual reports to the committee or another government entity conduct he or she reasonably believes is a violation of state law, or
n engaging in acts of employment discrimination.
The full 41-page code is available at
Senate SR 24
No senator shall:
n have a financial interest in any contract with any state agency unless it is awarded
through a process of public notice and competitive bidding, or through a public notice
requesting proposals, or has received the prior approval of the Legislative Council;
n serve as a registered lobbyist, as defined by Arkansas Code Annotated 21-8-402; or
n if an attorney, represent any claimant before the Arkansas Claims Commission.
A senator, personally or through others, shall not knowingly:
n use the influence or knowledge of his or her office to obtain personal or family
financial gain other than that provided by law for the performance of the senator's
n acquire a financial interest in any business which the senator has reason to believe
may be directly affected to its economic benefit by action taken by the Senate;
n perform an act that adversely affects a business when the senator or his or her family has a financial interest in a competing business;
n use or attempt to use his or her official position to secure or create privileges,
advantages, or special treatment for the senator's benefit or the benefit of the
senator's family unless the enactment or administration of law benefits the public
n use public funds or the time or counsel of public employees for his or her personal or
family gain; or
n use his or her official position by any means to influence a state agency for personal or family gain by the use of express or implied threat of legislative reprisal.
With certain exceptions, a senator shall not participate in the discussion of, or vote on, a question in committee or on the floor of the Senate on any matter in which the senator knows (1) he or she, or any member of his or her family, or a business in which the senator has a financial interest, will derive a benefit as a result of legislative action or (2) will specifically relate to a business which employs the senator or in which he or she receives compensation as an attorney or consultant. However, a senator may participate and vote on any matter pending before a committee or on the floor of the Senate if the senator has disclosed any compensation or financial interest he or she may have regarding the matter.
A family member of a senator or a family member of a Senate staff person shall be prohibited from working for the Senate on a permanent basis.
When the Senate votes to absolve an accused member of any ethical violation, the membership may levy against the accuser one or more of the penalties as described in Rule 24.10 if it determines that the accusations were spurious or frivolous.
Joint Government Code 8920 et seq.
Members of the legislature shall not:
n accept other employment which they have reason to believe will either impair their
independence of judgment as to official duties or require or induce them to disclose
confidential information acquired in the course of and by reason of their official duties;
n willfully and knowingly disclose, for pecuniary gain, to any other person, confidential
information acquired in the course of and by reason of their official duties or use
any such information for the purpose of pecuniary gain;
n accept or agree to accept, or be in partnership with any person who accepts or agrees to accept, any employment, fee, or other thing of monetary value, or portion
thereof, in consideration of his or her appearing, agreeing to appear, or taking any
other action on behalf of another person before any state board or agency;
n receive or agree to receive, directly or indirectly, any compensation, reward, or gift
from any source except the State of California for any service, advice, assistance or
other matter related to the legislative process, except fees for speeches or published
works on legislative subjects and except, in connection therewith, reimbursement of
expenses for actual expenditures for travel and reasonable subsistence for which no
payment or reimbursement is made by the State of California; or
n with certain exceptions, participate, by voting or any other action, on the floor of
either house, in committee, or elsewhere, in the passage or defeat of legislation in
which he or she has a personal interest. A person subject to this article has an
interest which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in
the public interest and of his or her responsibilities as prescribed in the laws of this
state or a personal interest, arising from any situation, within the scope of this article,
if he or she expects or has reason to expect a direct monetary gain or a direct
monetary loss, as the case may be, by reason of his or her official activity.
Senate (Legislature Handbook)
The Standards of Conduct of the Senate apply to each member, officer, and employee of the chamber. Examples follow.
Each member of the Senate:
n when acting in a position of leadership, should exercise his or her power and carry out his or her responsibility so as to enhance reasoned and visible decision making by the Senate;
n has an obligation to treat every officer and employee of the Senate with fairness and without discrimination, and to ensure that each officer and employee performs only those tasks for which there is a legislative or governmental purpose;
n has an obligation to provide energetic and diligent representation;
n should be accessible to all constituents, making a special effort to attend to the concerns of those who might not otherwise be heard;
n should fairly characterize the issues confronting the Legislature and accurately inform the public regarding the conduct of his or her office;
n should perform his or her duties with courtesy and respect for both colleagues and those who may appear before them; and
n should act with due regard for the general welfare of the people of California in exercising the power of confirmation.
Each member, officer, and employee of the Senate:
n has an obligation to exercise his or her independent judgment on behalf of the people of California, rather than for any personal gain or private benefit;
n should not accept anything from anyone that would interfere with the exercise of his or her independent judgment;
n should not accept outside employment that is inconsistent with the conscientious performance of his or her duties;
n should not use the prestige of his or her office or position for material or financial gain or private benefit;
n has an obligation to be informed and prepared, recognizing all sides of an issue;
n when intervening on behalf of a constituent with any governmental agency should make every effort to ensure that decisions affecting any constituent are made on their merits and in a fair and equitable manner;
n has an obligation to the public and to his or her colleagues to be informed about, and abide by, the rules that govern the proceedings of the Senate and the Legislature;
n when exercising oversight functions with respect to any governmental agency, should act in an informed fashion, with attention to the underlying policies being implemented and with due respect for the independence of the agency;
n has an obligation to make proper use of public funds;
n is prohibited from using state resources for personal or campaign purposes;
n is free to volunteer for, and participate in, campaign activities on his or her own time, but no officer or employee of the Senate may be intimidated, coerced, or compelled, as a condition of continued appointment or employment, to either volunteer time or contribute money to a candidate or campaign;
n shall uphold the Constitution of California and the Constitution of the United States, and shall adhere to the spirit and the letter of the laws, rules, and regulations governing officeholder conduct;
n shall conduct himself or herself in the performance of his or her duties in a manner that each does not discredit the Senate; and
n is encouraged to report to the proper authority any apparent and substantial violation of these standards, or related statutes, regulations, and rules, and to consult with the Senate Committee on Legislative Ethics, or any other appropriate governmental agency, regarding the propriety of any conduct.
Each officer and employee of the Senate has an obligation to provide energetic and diligent service on behalf of the Senate, with due consideration for the interests of all of the people of California, and to perform his or her properly assigned duties using his or her best judgment with diligence and a duty of loyalty to the Senate as an institution.
Assembly (AR 22.5)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The Assembly Legislative Ethics Committee investigates and makes findings and recommendations concerning Assembly members' violations of the state Code of Ethics or any other provision of law or legislative rule that governs the conduct of members, collectively referred to as “standards of conduct” in the rules.
Senate SR 41
A senator shall not:
n use his or her public position, intentionally or otherwise, to obtain or attempt to obtain
any confidential information or special advantage or a decision from a public body on
a matter unrelated to his or her senatorial duties in which he or she has a financial
interest for himself or herself, a close relative, or a close economic associate;
n sell goods or services to a state agency in a transaction not governed competitive
bidding, or intercede for or represent another in so doing; nor shall the senator in any
way be interested in any contract to furnish supplies, printing, repairs, or furnishings
to the General Assembly or any other state agency, contrary to section 29 of article V
of the state constitution;
n solicit, receive, offer, or give any bribe, contrary to the state constitution and the
provisions of sections 18-8-302 to 18-8-308, 18-8-401, 18-8-402, 18-8-404, 18-8-405,
and 18-8-407, C.R.S.; nor shall the member accept or give any compensation,
gratuity, or reimbursement for voting upon any question or for attempting to influence
n vote or offer to vote in consideration of the vote of another member, contrary to the
provisions of section 40 of article V of the state constitution;
n attempt to influence any public official by deceit or threat, contrary to section 7 of
article XII of the state constitution and section 18-8-306, C.R.S. 1973; or
n request a lobbyist or an employee of the General Assembly to make donations to any
type of charitable organization.
When a personal interest conflicts with the public interest and tends to affect the senator's independence of judgment, legislative activities are subject to limitations. Where any such conflict exists, it disqualifies the senator from voting upon any question and from attempting to influence any legislation to which it relates.
A question arises as to whether a personal or private interest tends to affect a senator's independence of judgment if, with certain exceptions, the senator (or a close relative) accepts a gift, loan, service, or economic opportunity of significant value from a person who would be affected by or who has an interest in an enterprise which would be affected by proposed legislation.
A question of independent judgment also arises if the senator has or acquires:
n a substantial economic interest by reason of the senator's personal situation, distinct
from that held generally by members of the same occupation, profession, or business,
in a measure proposed or pending before the General Assembly; or has a close
relative or close economic associate with such an interest;
n a financial interest in an enterprise, direct or indirect, which enterprise or interest
would be affected by proposed legislation differently from like enterprises;
n a close economic association with, or is a close relative of, a person who has a
financial interest in an enterprise, direct or indirect, which enterprise or interest would
be affected by proposed legislation differently from like enterprises; or
n a close economic association with, or is a close relative of, a person who is a lobbyist
or who employs or has employed a lobbyist to propose legislation or to influence
proposed legislation on which the senator has or may be expected to vote.
House HR 49
No formal legislative code of conduct. The House speaker may appoint a committee to investigate allegations of misconduct.
Senate SR 1.35 et seq.
The Senate Rules Committee receives and investigates complaints alleging a violation by a member of the rules regulating legislative conduct and ethics. Examples of the rules follow.
n Senators cannot (1) accept anything that will improperly influence their official act, decision, or vote, (2) allow their personal employment to impair their independence of judgment in the exercise of their official duties, or (3) use their influence as a senator in any matter that involves substantial conflict between their personal interest and their duties in the public interest.
n Senators must conduct themselves to justify the confidence placed in them by the people and, by personal example and admonition to colleagues, shall maintain the integrity and responsibility of their office.
n During any regular legislative session, extended session, or special session, a senator may not directly or indirectly solicit, cause to be solicited, or accept any contribution on behalf of either the senator's own campaign, any political committee, any committee of continuous existence, any political party, or the campaign of any candidate for the Senate; however, a senator may contribute to the senator's own campaign.
n Senators must disclose any personal, private, or professional interest in a bill that would inure to their special private gain or the special gain of any principal to whom they are obligated. They must file the disclosure with the secretary of the Senate for reporting in the Journal immediately following the record of the vote on the measure. The disclosure may explain the logic of voting or of their disqualification.
House HR 15.1 et seq.
A member shall respect and comply with the law and shall perform at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and independence of the House and of the legislature. Each member shall perform at all times in a manner that promotes a professional environment in the House, which shall be free from unlawful employment discrimination. Members shall scrupulously comply with the requirements of all laws
related to the ethics of public officers.
Members may not:
n solicit or accept anything that reasonably may be construed to improperly influence the member's official act, decision, or vote;
n solicit or accept any campaign contribution during the 60-day regular legislative session or any extended or special session on the member's own behalf, on behalf of a political party, on behalf of any organization with respect to which the member's solicitation is regulated under s.106.0701, Florida Statutes, or on behalf of a candidate for the House of Representatives; however, a member may contribute to the member's own campaign;
n allow personal employment to impair the member's independence of judgment in the exercise of official duties;
n directly or indirectly receive or agree to receive any compensation for any services rendered or to be rendered either by the member or any other person when such activity is in substantial conflict with the duties of a member of the House;
n corruptly use or attempt to use the member's official position or any property or resource which may be within the member's trust in a manner contrary to the trust or authority placed in the member, either by the public or by other members, for the purpose of securing a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for the member or for others;
n use or provide to others, for the member's personal gain or benefit or for the personal gain or benefit of any other person or business entity, any information obtained because of the member's official capacity and that is unavailable to members of the public as a matter of law; or
n personally represent another person or entity for compensation before any state agency other than a judicial tribunal.
A member who enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a felony of any jurisdiction may, at the discretion of the speaker, be suspended immediately, without a hearing and without pay, from all privileges of membership of the House through the remainder of that member's term.
A member convicted of a felony of any jurisdiction may, at the discretion of the speaker, be suspended immediately, without a hearing and without pay, from all privileges of membership of the House pending appellate action or the end of the member's term, whichever occurs first. A member suspended under the provisions of this rule may, within 10 days after such suspension, file a written request for a hearing, setting forth specific reasons contesting the member's suspension.
Senate SR 1-4 et seq.
All contact with constituents, staff, lobbyists, representatives of the media, and others interested or involved in the process of government shall be conducted in a courteous, professional, and discreet manner.
No senator shall:
n seek, accept, use, allocate, grant, or award public funds for any purpose other than as
approved by law;
n vote upon any question if the senator or any member of the senator's immediate
family has a direct pecuniary interest in the result of such vote which interest is
distinct, unique or peculiar to the senator or the senator's immediate family; or
n agree to, or threaten to withhold, political action or constituent services as a result of a
person's decision to provide or not to provide a political contribution, charitable
contribution, or support.
No senator or staff member shall:
n use government positions to attain personal financial gain;
n use public resources or personnel for the purpose of conducting personal or private
n solicit a campaign contribution in a state office building. Senators shall not operate
political campaigns or operate political fund raising campaigns from state office
buildings which have not been leased or rented for such purposes;
n seek, accept, or retain employment which: (1) makes it unreasonably difficult to fulfill
legislative obligations; (2) requires the disclosure or use of nonpublic or confidential
information acquired in the course of legislative service; (3) requires improper use of
government relationships or the prestige associated with legislative offices; or (4) will
require the senator or staff to compromise any other ethical or legal duty;
n acting as an attorney, accept any special treatment not otherwise approved by law or
judicial order because of his or her legislative role;
n accept anything of value when such thing of value is offered with the understanding
that official action will be taken or withheld by a senator or staff in consideration of
acceptance of that which is offered. Any offer made which is conditioned upon the
taking or withholding of official action shall immediately be reported in writing to the
chairman of the Ethics Committee; or
n knowingly commit any crime involving moral turpitude or knowingly possess, use,
manufacture, or distribute any controlled substance, dangerous drug, marijuana, or
alcoholic beverage in violation of any state or federal law or any county or municipal
ordinance. Conviction of any such crime, the acceptance of a plea of guilty or nolo
contendere to any such crime, or imposition of payment of a criminal or administrative
penalty for any such crime shall constitute a violation of this rule.
Senators and staff shall avoid financial conflicts of interest and close economic associations where official action or decisions are motivated by economic self-interest or association. “Financial conflicts of interest and close economic associations” are defined as those financial interests or interests arising from close economic associations with other persons or entities which are so material, direct, distinct, unique, and peculiar to the senator or staff that it might reasonably be expected that impartial official judgment could not be exercised.
Sexual harassment in any manner will not be tolerated. Senators and staff are expected to discourage sexual harassment in the workplace and at events, professional meetings, seminars or any activities that involve legislative business.
All forms of discriminatory harassment are prohibited, whether in the form of pictures, cartoons, teasing, jokes, e-mail, epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, name-calling, offensive gestures, or threatening, intimidating or hostile acts. Discriminatory harassment includes any verbal or other conduct which disparages any individual or group and which creates an offensive, intimidating, or hostile working environment.
House HR 171
No member or employee of the House shall:
n unlawfully use his or her office or official position for personal financial gain, and each
member or employee shall be entitled to compensation for his or her official duties
only to the extent of pay and allowances attaching to such office or position or as is
otherwise authorized by law. Nothing in these rules, however, shall be construed
to prevent a member or employee from lawfully pursuing his or her business or
profession or to limit ordinary and necessary communications in the pursuit thereof
while serving in an official capacity;
n with certain exceptions, use state funds, facilities, equipment, services, or other state
resources for nonlegislative purposes, for the private benefit of any person, or for the
purpose of soliciting campaign funds;
n knowingly seek, accept, use, allocate, grant, or award public funds for a purpose
other than that approved by law or make a false statement in connection with a claim,
request, or application for public funds;
n perform or withhold, or state or imply that the member or employee will perform or
withhold, any official action or constituent service solely as a result of a person's
decision to provide or not provide a political contribution;
n improperly retaliate against any state employee or any other person for reporting to
any appropriate authority any conduct which such person believes to be unlawful or
n knowingly violate any rule of the House, including without limitation the provisions of
these rules relating to confidentiality of proceedings of the Committee on Ethics; or
n commit any felony or crime involving moral turpitude which felony or other crime is
related to the member's or employee's service as a public officer or employee.
Sexual harassment is prohibited and shall subject the offender to possible sanctions,
penalties, or legal action. Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature shall constitute sexual harassment when:
n submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or
condition of an individual's employment;
n submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting an individual; or
n such conduct interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment;
Senate (SR 72)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The Senate president may appoint a committee to investigate allegations against members of misconduct, disorderly behavior, or neglect of duty.
House (HR 60)
The legislative duties of members, as prescribed by law and these rules, should take precedence over all of their other business or professional activities. Members should freely and willingly accept certain restrictions on their business activities and professional conduct that might be considered burdensome by an ordinary private citizen, and should perform the duties of elected office impartially and diligently.
n conduct themselves in a respectful manner befitting the office with which they have been entrusted, respecting and complying with the law and acting at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the House;
n treat fellow House members, staff, and the general public with respect and courtesy, regardless of political or religious beliefs, age, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or physical disability;
n exercise patience, tolerance, and courtesy to all those with whom they deal with in an official capacity, and require staff and others subject to their direction and control to maintain similar standards of conduct, fidelity, and diligence inherent in public service;
n exercise the power of appointment impartially and on the basis of merit, refraining from making unnecessary appointments and approving compensation of appointees beyond the fair value of services rendered;
n afford to every person who wishes to participate in the legislative process the opportunity to be heard according to established procedures;
n consider at all times whether their conduct would create in reasonable minds the perception that their ability to carry out legislative responsibilities with integrity and independence is either questionable or impaired;
n manage their personal interests and obligations so as to minimize the number of votes in which they are in, or may reasonably be perceived to be in, potential conflict; and
n disclose any conflict of interest in legislation before voting on it. For the purposes of this rule, a “conflict of interest” means that the legislation affects the member's direct personal, familial, or financial interest except if the member, or the member's relative, is part of a class of people affected by the legislation.
Members should refrain from:
n lending the prestige of public office to advance the private interests of themselves or others; nor should members convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to unduly influence public business pending before them;
n allowing family, social, business, or other relationships to unduly influence the member's legislative conduct or judgment;
n showing bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias or prejudice based on political or religious beliefs, age, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or physical disability, in the performance of their official duties;
n using, or permitting the use of, the privileges and prestige of their public office to derive undue personal, professional, or financial benefits for themselves, members of their family, or others with whom they maintain personal, business, or professional relationships;
n engaging in financial and business dealings that involve them in frequent transactions, or continuing business or professional relationships, with those persons likely to derive benefits from public financial matters either pending or already deliberated and voted upon by the House, to the extent that such conduct may reasonably be perceived as personal exploitation of their public office;
n membership in an organization that practices invidious discrimination and gives rise to perceptions that one's impartiality and ability to serve as a representative are unduly compromised; and
n accepting an honorarium related to the member's legislative role, duties, or responsibilities. Honorarium means, with certain exceptions, compensation provided to a member for services rendered by the member under conditions for which there is no contractual or legal obligation by the recipient of the services to compensate the member.
Senate (SR 77)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The Senate Select Committee investigates allegations of misconduct.
House (HR 4901 and 4902)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The House Select Committee investigates allegations of misconduct.
Senate (SR 17.1 et seq.)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion considers resolutions seeking to take disciplinary action against or expel members. The committee consists of the entire Senate except for the member subject to the resolution.
House (HR 15.1 et seq.)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion considers resolutions seeking to take disciplinary action against or expel members. The committee consists of the entire House except for the member subject to the resolution. The grounds for expulsion are:
n commission or conviction of a felony, or malfeasance or gross misconduct while in office (LA Const. Art. 10 § 24) or
n disorderly conduct or contempt (LA Const. Art. 3 § 7).
Joint (Title 1, Chapter 25 Maine Revised Statutes)
A conflict of interest includes :
n receiving compensation or reimbursement not authorized by law for services,
advice, or assistance as a legislator and
n appearing for, representing, or advocating on behalf of another before the
legislature, unless without compensation and for the benefit of a citizen.
A conflict of interest also occurs when a legislator or a member of the legislator's immediate family:
n has or acquires a direct substantial personal financial interest, distinct from that of the
general public, in an enterprise that would be financially benefited by proposed
legislation, or derives a direct substantial personal financial benefit from close
economic association with a person known by the legislator to have a direct financial
interest in an enterprise affected by proposed legislation;
n accepts gifts, other than campaign contributions duly recorded as required by law, from persons affected by legislation or who have an interest in an entity affected by proposed legislation and the legislator knows or reasonably should know that the purpose of the gift is to influence the legislator in the performance of his or her official duties or vote or is intended as a reward for action on the legislator's part;
n accepts or engages in employment that could impair the legislator's judgment, or when the legislator knows that there is a substantial possibility that an opportunity for
employment is being afforded the legislator or a member of the legislator's
immediate family with intent to influence the performance of the legislator's official
duties, or when the legislator or a member of his immediate family stands to derive a
personal private gain or loss from employment, because of legislative action, distinct
from the gain or losses of other employees or the general community; and
n has an interest in legislation relating to a profession, trade, business or employment in which the legislator or a member of the legislator's immediate family is engaged, and the benefit derived by the legislator or a member of the legislator's immediate family is unique and distinct from that of the general public or persons engaged in similar professions, trades, businesses or employment.
Undue influence includes:
n appearing for, representing, or advocating for another person in a matter before a
state agency or authority, for compensation other than compensation as a legislator,
if the legislator makes reference to that legislator's legislative capacity,
communicates with the agency or authority on legislative stationery or makes threats
or implications relating to legislative action;
n with certain exceptions, appearing for, representing or advocating for another person in a matter before a state agency or authority if the legislator oversees the policies of the agency or authority as a result of the legislator's committee responsibilities; and
n representing or assisting another person in the sale of goods or services to the
state, a state agency or a state authority, unless the transaction occurs after public
notice and competitive bidding.
Abuse of office or position includes:
n granting or obtaining special privilege, exemption or preferential treatment to or
for oneself or another, which privilege, exemption or treatment is not readily available
to members of the general community or class to which the beneficiary belongs;
n use or disclosure of confidential information obtained because of office or position
for the benefit of self or another; and
n for both legislators and members of their immediate families, having a direct
financial interest or an interest through a close economic associate in a contract for
goods or services with the state, a state agency or state authority unless the contract
is awarded through competitive bidding or is exempt from competitive bidding
pursuant to state purchasing laws or the payment provisions are based on uniform
rates established by the state, a state agency, a state authority, or other
It is a violation of legislative ethics for a legislator or an associated organization to enter with a state agency into any contract that is to be paid in whole or in part out of governmental funds unless the contract has been awarded through a process of public notice and competitive bidding or is exempt from competitive bidding pursuant to state purchasing laws.
With certain exceptions, legislators may not intentionally solicit or accept a contribution from a lobbyist, lobbyist associate or employer during any period of time in which the legislature is convened before final adjournment
Legislators must also file disclosure statements concerning sources of income (for both the legislator and immediate family), gifts and honoraria, representation before and business with state agencies, reportable liabilities, bids on government contracts, officer or director positions
Senate (SR 10-12A)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The Senate Committee on Ethics and Rules receives all allegations of rule violations and questions of conduct of members, officers, and employees. Examples of prohibited activities contained in the rules, but not in a formal code of conduct, follow.
No Senate member, officer, or employee shall:
n use or attempt to use improper means to influence an agency, board, authority, or commission of the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof;
n employ anyone from state funds who does not perform tasks which contribute to the work of the Senate and which are commensurate with the compensation received;
n use confidential information gained in the course of or by reason of his or her official position or activities to further his or her own financial interest or those of any other person; or
n receive compensation or permit compensation to accrue to his or her beneficial interest by virtue of influence improperly exerted from his or her position in the Senate and every reasonable effort shall be made to avoid situations where it might appear that he or she is making such use of his or her official position.
Members, officers, and employees should avoid accepting or retaining an economic interest or opportunity which represents a threat to their independence of judgment.
No officer or full-time employee of the Senate shall engage in any outside business activity during regular business hours, whether the Senate is in session or not. All employees of the Senate are assumed to be full-time unless their personnel record indicates otherwise.
House (HR 16A)
The House Ethics Committee receives all allegations of rule violations and questions of conduct of members, officers, and employees.
No member, officer, or employee may:
n solicit or accept any compensation or political contribution other than that provided for by law for the performance of official legislative duties;
n serve as a legislative agent regarding any legislation before the General Court;
n receive any compensation or permit any compensation to accrue to his or her beneficial interest by virtue of influence improperly exerted from his or her official position in the House;
n accept employment or engage in any business or professional activity, which will require the disclosure of confidential information gained in the course of, and by reason of, his or her official position;
n willfully and knowingly disclose or use confidential information gained in the course of his or her official position to further his or her own economic interest or that of any other person;
n employ anyone from public funds who does not perform tasks which contribute substantially to the work of the House and which are commensurate with the compensation received; and no officer or full-time employee of the House shall engage in any outside business activity during regular business hours, whether the House is in session or not. All employees of the House are assumed to be full-time unless their personnel record indicates otherwise;
n accept or solicit compensation for non-legislative services which is in excess of the usual and customary value of such services;
n accept or solicit an honorarium for a speech, writing for publication, or other activity from any person, organization, or enterprise having a direct interest in legislation or matters before any agency, authority, board, or commission of the Commonwealth which is in excess of the usual and customary value of such services;
n knowingly accept any gifts from any legislative or executive agent;
n accept any gift from any person or entity having a direct interest in legislation before the General Court; or
n violate the confidentiality of any proceeding before the ethics committee.
Except where authorized, no member shall cast a vote for any other member, nor shall any officer or employee vote for any member, except that the Clerk or an assistant Clerk may record a vote for a member who votes late, or is prohibited from voting from his desk due to a malfunction of the electronic roll call voting machine; provided the Clerk's action shall not be construed as voting for said member.
No member shall use profane, insulting, or abusive language in the course of public debate in the House Chamber or in testimony before any committee of the General Court.
No member shall convert campaign funds to personal use in excess of reimbursements for legitimate and verifiable campaign expenditures. Members shall consider all proceeds from testimonial dinners and other fund raising activities as campaign funds.
No member shall serve on any committee or vote on any question in which his or her private right is immediately concerned, distinct from the public interest.
While members, officers, and employees should not be denied those opportunities available to all other citizens to acquire and retain private, economic and other interests, members, officers, and employees should exercise prudence in any and all such endeavors and make every reasonable effort to avoid transactions, activities, or obligations, which are in substantial conflict with or will substantially impair their independence of judgment.
Senate SR 65 (9)
No formal code of conduct. The Senate Rules Committee has jurisdiction over questions concerning improper or unethical conduct by members of the Senate.
House (HR 63B)
No member, officer, or employee of the House may:
n accept employment or engage in any business or professional activity which will require him or her to disclose confidential information gained by reason of his or her official position or authority;
n improperly disclose confidential information acquired in the course of his or her official duties nor use such information to further his or her personal interests;
n use or attempt to use his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or herself or others; or
n use for private gain any information not available to the public at large and acquired solely by virtue of his or her position, and no information described in this subsection shall be disclosed by a member to others for purposes of their use for private gain.
Each member of the House shall file with the Mississippi Ethics Commission the statement of economic interest or any other statement required to be filed and sign under oath as to the accuracy and completeness of the information set forth to the best knowledge of the person submitting such statement.
Any member who undertakes to represent or to intervene for any person for compensation before any state agency shall file a statement with the Ethics Committee within 30 days after undertaking said representation. Such statement shall identify the person represented and the nature of the business involved; provided, however, that this provision shall not apply where such representation (a) involves only the uncontested or routine actions of administrative officers or employees of the state in issuing or renewing a license, charter, certificate or similar document and (b) is before the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission.
Senate SR 28 (14)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The Senate Committee on Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions, and Ethics must (1) consider and report on all rules for the government of the Senate and joint rules when requested by the Senate; (2) consider, examine, and report upon all matters and bills referred to it relating to ethics and the conduct of public officials and employees; (3) recommend to the Senate the rules by which investigations and disciplinary proceedings will be conducted; and (4) examine and report on all resolutions and other matters which may be appropriately referred to it.
House HR 36
No formal legislative code of conduct. The House Ethics Committee may consider and report on complaints referred to it relating to the commission of a crime, misconduct, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, or a member's unethical conduct.
n any conduct constituting a legal or moral wrong that materially impairs the member's ability to perform the duties of his office or substantially impairs public confidence in the General Assembly,
n any conduct constituting a conflict of interest under the state's ethics code, or
n the intentional filing of a false complaint or the filing of a complaint in reckless disregard of the truth.
Senate (SR 23)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The Senate Committee on Ethics hears complaints on alleged breaches of ethics and conflicts of interest, brought by legislators and others, and it may advise legislators on questions of breaches of ethics and conflicts of interest.
House (AR 23)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The Assembly Committee on Ethics hears complaints on alleged breaches of ethics and conflicts of interest, brought by legislators and others, and it may advise legislators on questions of breaches of ethics and conflicts of interest.
Joint (Leg. Code of Ethics 1:1 et seq.)
No member shall:
n undertake any employment or act in any way that impairs his or her objectivity or independence of judgment or that violates the public trust;
n accept from any person, directly or indirectly, whether personally or through a spouse or a family member or through any partner or business or professional associate, any gift, favor, service, employment or offer of employment, or any other thing of value, which he or she knows or has reason to believe is made or offered to influence him or her;
n use, or permit the use of, his or her official title in an endorsement or advertisement that promotes a for-profit enterprise or venture;
n act as an agent of the legislature, a legislative agency, or House or Senate in connection with the transaction of any business with himself or herself or with a corporation, company, association, or firm in which he or she owns or controls an interest in its profits;
n participate by voting or any other action on the floor of either House, in committee, or elsewhere, in the enactment or defeat of legislation in which he or she has a personal interest;
n willfully disclose to any person, whether or not for pecuniary gain, any information not generally available to members of the public which is received or acquired in the course of and by reason of official duties; or
n use for the purpose of pecuniary gain, whether directly or indirectly, any information not generally available to members of the public which is received or acquired in the course of and by reason of official duties.
With certain exceptions, no member shall:
n personally, nor an associated business or business associate represent, appear for, or negotiate, or agree to represent, appear for, or negotiate on behalf of, any person or party other than the state in connection with (a) the acquisition or sale by the state or a state agency of any interest in real or tangible or intangible personal property; (b) the acquisition by the state or a state agency of any interest in real property by condemnation proceedings; or (c) any specific cause, proceeding, application or other matter before any state agency;
n knowingly himself or herself, or by partners or through any corporation which he or she controls or owns or controls more than 1% of the stock, or by any other person for his or her use or benefit or on his or her account, undertake or execute, in whole or in part, any contract, agreement, sale or purchase of the value of $25 or more, made, entered into, awarded or granted by any State agency;
n solicit, receive, or agree to receive, whether directly or indirectly, any compensation, reward, employment, gift, honorarium, out-of-state travel or subsistence expense or other thing of value from any source other than the State of New Jersey, for any service, advice, assistance, appearance, speech, or other matter related to the member's official duties; or
n accept, directly or indirectly, any compensation, reward, employment, gift, honorarium, or other thing of value from each lobbyist or governmental affairs agent totaling more than $250.00 in a calendar year. The $250.00 limit on acceptance of compensation, reward, gift, honorarium or other thing of value shall also applies to a legislator's immediate family.
The code also contains numerous provisions concerning the gambling industry.
Any member of the legislature who engages in the conduct or practice of, or is employed in, a particular business, profession, trade, or occupation which is subject to licensing or regulation by a particular state agency shall file a notice that he or she is the holder of a particular license or is engaged or employed in such activity with the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards within 60 days of the adoption of this code and, thereafter, within 10 days of such holding, engagement, employment, or service.
No later than May 15 of each year, each member of the Senate and General Assembly shall file with the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards or any successor thereto a financial disclosure statement, on a form to be prescribed by the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards or its successor, with respect to the member's, the member's spouse's, and minor children's sources of income, received from sources other than the state legislature, and liabilities, amounts thereof, and interests, during the preceding calendar year. Each member of the legislature shall have a continuing obligation to report any termination or assumption of public employment by the member or the member's spouse within 30 days, which report shall be an addendum to the disclosure statement.
If any person shall attempt to induce a member of the legislature to violate any provision of the New Jersey Conflicts of Interest Law or this code, the member shall report the matter to the attorney general in writing no later than 72 hours after the attempt and shall advise concurrently in writing the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards that he has made such a report to the attorney general (C.52:13D-26).
Senate (SR 18.01 et seq.)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The Senate Special Committee on Conduct receives complaints and investigates allegations of potential conflicts of interest as defined under the state ethics code, as well as allegations of workplace harassment and sexual harassment.
“Potential conflict of interest” means any action or any decision or recommendation by a person acting in a capacity as a public official, the effect of which could be to the private pecuniary benefit or detriment of the person or the person's relative, or a business with which the person or the person's relative is associated, unless the pecuniary benefit or detriment arises out of the following:
n an interest or membership in a particular business, industry, occupation or other class required by law as a prerequisite to the holding by the person of the office or position;
n any action in the person's official capacity which would affect to the same degree a class consisting of all inhabitants of the state, or a smaller class consisting of an industry, occupation or other group including one of which or in which the person, or the person's relative or business with which the person or the person's relative is associated, is a member or is engaged (the commission may by rule limit the minimum size of or otherwise establish criteria for or identify the smaller classes that qualify under this exception); or
n membership in or membership on the board of directors of a nonprofit corporation that is tax-exempt under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code (ORS § 244.020).
Joint (46 P.S. §§ 143.4-143.5)
Members should not:
n use or attempt to use their official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for themselves or others.
With certain exceptions, members may not:
n knowingly solicit, accept, or receive any gift or compensation other than that to which they are duly entitled from the Commonwealth which would influence or is intended to influence the performance of their official duties;
n solicit, accept, or receive any such gift or compensation for advocating the passage or defeat of any legislation or for doing any act intended to influence the passage or defeat of legislation including, in the case of a senator or representative, their vote thereon;
n receive compensation or any thing of economic value for any consultation, the subject matter of which (1) is devoted substantially to the responsibilities, programs, or operations of the General Assembly or (2) draws substantially upon official data or ideas which have not become part of the body of public information;
n participate as a principal in any transaction involving the Commonwealth or any Commonwealth agency in which the member, a spouse or child, or any person of which the member is an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee has a substantial personal economic interest as distinguished from that of a general class or general group of persons of which the member may reasonably be expected to know;
n receive or agree to receive any compensation to assist any person in any transaction involving the Commonwealth or any of its officials or agencies unless they file with the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives or Secretary of the Senate, as the case may be, a written statement of the member's name and address, the name and address of the employer, whether the compensation is $1,000 or more or less than $1,000, and a brief description of the transaction and nature of services; or
n use for private gain any information not available to the public at large and acquired by him solely by virtue of his position.
Joint (W. Va. Code § 4-5-2)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The Joint Commission on Special Investigations investigates or examines any matter involving conflicts of interest, bribery of state officials, malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office by any employee or officer of the state. It also conducts comprehensive and detailed investigations to determine if any criminal or civil statutes have been violated at any level of state government.
Assembly (AR 21)
No formal legislative code of conduct. The Assembly Special Committee on Ethics and Standards of Conduct hears and investigates resolutions to reprimand, censure, or expel members.