PA 17-235—HB 7248

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING APPOINTMENTS TO THE CITIZEN'S ETHICS ADVISORY BOARD AND THE BOARD'S AUTHORITY IN ETHICS ENFORCEMENT PROCEEDINGS

SUMMARY: This act makes several changes affecting the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board (CEAB) and the Office of State Ethics (OSE). It allows CEAB members to serve multiple terms and eliminates requirements that certain appointments to the board be made from a list prepared by a citizen group having an interest in ethical government. It also allows (1) CEAB members and OSE employees to make certain political contributions and (2) CEAB members to serve in unpaid state government positions during the one-year period after they leave the board. Additionally, it reduces, from six members to two-thirds of those members present and voting, the threshold required for the board to find a violation of the state codes of ethics or impose a civil penalty.

The act also (1) allows OSE to enforce civil penalties as money judgments and (2) allows, rather than requires, CEAB to delay the effect of a decision for up to seven days on an aggrieved party's request ( 5).

Lastly, it makes technical and conforming changes, including specifying that board hearings must be held in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act ( 3).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

1 & 2 — CEAB MEMBER TERMS

Under existing law, CEAB consists of nine members who serve staggered four-year terms. Prior law limited each board member to one four-year term. The act eliminates this prohibition and allows members to serve multiple terms. It similarly eliminates a provision limiting appointees named to fill a vacancy to the board to one full four-year term after completing the vacated term.

Under existing law, CEAB consists of three gubernatorial appointees and six legislative appointees (one each by the top six legislative leaders). The act eliminates a requirement that the majority leaders' appointments and one gubernatorial appointment be made from a list of nominees proposed by a citizen group having an interest in ethical government.

4 — POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS BY CEAB MEMBERS AND OSE EMPLOYEES

Under prior law, CEAB members and OSE employees could not make contributions to anyone who is subject to the Code of Ethics, including people who left state service. The act limits this prohibition to contributions to state employees, public officials, or candidates for statewide office or the General Assembly.

5 — SERVICE IN STATE GOVERNMENT

The act allows CEAB members to serve in volunteer unpaid state government positions during the one-year period after leaving the board. Prior law prohibited CEAB members from holding any position in state employment during this one-year period.

6-9 — FINDING A VIOLATION OR IMPOSING A CIVIL PENALTY

Prior law prohibited CEAB from finding a violation of the state codes of ethics, or imposing a civil penalty, except upon the vote of six of its nine members present and voting. The act changes this threshold, for both violations and civil penalties, to two-thirds of the members present and voting. By law, six members of the board constitute a quorum (CGS 1-80(d)).

7 & 9 — ENFORCING CIVIL PENALTIES AS MONEY JUDGMENTS

The act allows OSE to enforce any civil penalty levied by CEAB as a money judgment. By law, money judgments may be collected through the courts in various ways, including (1) executions to collect money through bank accounts or wages or (2) liens on personal or real property, which may be foreclosed (CGS 52-350a et seq.).