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§200 In general
§210 State Ethics Commission
§211 Interpreting Code
§220 Procedures in ethics cases
§230 Ethics Training
§231 Ethics Advice
§232 Ethics Officers
§250 The ethics rules or Code of Ethics
§252 Federal Hatch Act
The Indiana Code of Ethics defines the fifteen ethics rules.
The Code of Ethics does not apply to the judicial and legislative departments of state government, a state educational institution or a political subdivision or local government unit.
Two major changes to the ethics rules occurred with the creation of the Office of Inspector General in 2005. First, the application of the ethics rules was expanded. In addition to its traditional application to state agencies, the Code of Ethics was expanded to apply to all bodies corporate and politic set up as an instrumentality of the state, and private, nonprofit, government related corporations.
The second major change was that the ethics rules were codified by the Inspector General into a single unit or Code of Ethics, previously existing through multiple administrative rules and statutes.
The State Ethics Commission (SEC) is a bi-partisan, five-member commission, with its members appointed by the Governor. The SEC meets monthly.
The SEC is the ultimate authority on interpreting the Code of Ethics. This is accomplished by issuing in public meetings formal advisory opinions to requesting state employees, officers or special state appointees.
The SEC controls all ethics complaint litigation.
Ethics violations are investigated by the Inspector General. If a violation has occurred, the Inspector General may present the investigation results to the State Ethics Commission (SEC). If the SEC determines that probable cause exists that a violation occurred, a written complaint may be filed by the Inspector General with the SEC.
A respondent charged with an ethics complaint may enter an agreement with the Inspector General on the recommended disposition of the complaint. The SEC either approves or rejects a proposed disposition.
Alternatively, if the parties do not reach an agreement, the complaint is heard by the SEC in a public hearing where the Inspector General has the burden to prove the complaint by a preponderance of the evidence. Both the respondent and Inspector General may present witnesses and exhibits to prove or disprove the complaint.
If the complaint is not proven by a preponderance of the evidence by the Inspector General, the complaint is dismissed. Alternatively, if a majority of the SEC finds that the complaint is proven by a preponderance of the evidence, the SEC issues findings of fact in a written report.
Penalties may be assessed by the SEC if the complaint is proven. The SEC may: (1) issue a fine not to exceed three times the value of any benefit received from the violation, (2) cancel a contract, (3) bar a person from entering into a contract with an agency or a state officer for a period specified by the commission, (4) order restitution or disgorgement, (5) reprimand, suspend, or terminate an employee or a special state appointee, (6) reprimand or recommend the impeachment of a state officer, (7) bar a person from future state employment as an employee or future appointment as a special state appointee, (8) revoke a license or permit issued by an agency, (9) bar a person from obtaining a license or permit issued by an agency, (10) revoke the registration of a person registered as a lobbyist under IC 4-2-8, or (11) bar a person from future lobbying activity with a state officer or agency.
As with all administrative decisions, both parties may appeal this decision by the SEC.
Every state employee, officer and special state appointee is required to complete ethics training every two years or within six weeks of initial employment.
This is delivered through a web-based program created by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). This training may be accessed through the OIG website.
The failure to timely complete this training could subject the state worker to the filing of an ethics complaint.
First, a state worker may request a Formal Advisory Opinion from the State Ethics Commission (SEC) to be issued at one of the monthly, public meetings. This is the ultimate ethics advice and is issued through a written opinion by the SEC.
Second, a state worker may request an Informal Advisory Opinion (IAO) from one of the Inspector General staff attorneys. An IAO is confidential to the state worker and is issued in writing usually within 48 hours.
Both types of opinions may be requested through the Inspector General website.
Each agency leader is required to appoint an Ethics Officer (EO) for the agency.
A designation form is to be filed with the Office of the Inspector General. The reason for this is to recognize the EO’s authority, give the EO authority to write gift waivers and to be a point of contact.
An EO serves as an advisor to the agency’s leader, advises employees on ethics matters and coordinates the mandatory computerized ethics training. The EO also ensures that an agency’s written policies on certain ethics rules are on file with the Office of the Inspector General.
A concise computerized education module for Ethics Officers is available on the Inspector General website.
The Office of the Inspector General website also displays the Code of Ethics. Each of the rules on the website is stated in its entirety and then summarized. Examples of the application of the rules are also provided, and advisory opinions from the State Ethics Commission are categorized with each rule.
Only the agency’s appointing authority or state officer may issue a waiver. However, an agency’s Ethic’s Officer may be appointed to issue a Gift Rule waiver if the appointment is filed in writing with the State Ethics Commission.
A Gift Rule waiver must: (1) be in writing, (2) apply to an individual case, (3) contain a detailed explanation as to why the waiver is consistent with the public interest, (4) identify the employee or special state appointee, (5) identify the nature and value of the gift, (6) identify the donor of the gift, and (7) be filed with the Commission within 30 days of the receipt of the gift.
A Post-employment waiver must: (1) be in writing, (2) apply to an individual case, (3) contain a detailed explanation as to why the waiver is consistent with the public interest, and (4) identify the employee or special state appointee, and (5) be filed with the Commission.
The Hatch Act is a federal statute that restricts the political activity of an individual whose principal employment is in connection with activity funded wholly or in part by federal funds or grants. It may therefore apply to state and local government employees. State employees should consult their supervisors or may seek an advisory opinion from the United States Office of Special Counsel to determine if the Hatch Act is applicable.
5 USC Section 1501 (Hatch Act, Chapter 15, Political Activity of Certain State and Local Employees);
United States Office of Special Counsel website
IC 4-15-10-2 (state employee bill of rights)