| CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Chapter 176 of the Local Government Code creates a new filing requirement for local government officers and persons who contract with or are seeking to do business with local government entities to make financial and business disclosures.
Who must file a Conflict Disclosure Statement (See Form CIS)?
· Local Government Officers: a member of a governing body of a local governmental entity.
· A director, superintendent, administrator, president, or other person designated as the executive officer of the local governmental entity.
· The local governmental entity may require all or a group of employees to file a conflict disclosure statement.
Who must file a Conflict Disclosure Questionnaire (See Form CIQ)?
· A vendor or other person who:
o Contracts or seeks to contract for the sale or purchase of property, goods, or services with a local governmental entity,
o Or is an agent of a vendor or person who is seeking to contract with the county.
When is a Conflicts Disclosure Statement Required?
· The bill requires local government officers and employees, if the local government extends the requirement to employees, to file a conflict disclosure statement regarding a person who is seeking to contract with the governmental entity:
o If the officer or a member of the officer’s immediate family has a business or employment relationship with the person that results in the officer or officers family member receiving taxable income;
o (Or) has received gifts from the person that have an aggregate value of more that $250 within a 12 month period preceding the date the officer becomes aware that a contract has been executed with the local governmental entity or the entity is considering doing business with the person.
o Gifts do not include food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment accepted as a guest.
o The local government officer must file the conflicts disclosure statement with the records administrator (county clerk) not later than 5 p.m. on the seventh business day after the date on which the officer becomes aware of the facts that require the filing.
o HB 914 requires the Ethics Commission to adopt the conflicts disclosure statement, not later than December 1, 2005. The forms will be available on the Ethics Commission Website after they are adopted.
o A local government officer is not required to file a conflicts disclosure statement before January 1, 2006.
o Failure to File a Conflict Disclosure Statement is a class C misdemeanor.
What information must a local government officer or employee report in a Disclosure Statement?
· Disclosure of nature and extent of employment relationship (See relationship chart appendix A)
· Disclosure of gifts received by officer, employee (if required) and family members if the aggregate value of the gifts exceeds $250. This will include gifts that are received but not accepted. (See attached forms)
· An acknowledgment that the disclosure applies to each family member of the officer and the statement covers the 12 month period preceding the date the officer becomes aware of that a contract has been executed or the local governmental entity is considering doing business with the person.
· Signature of the local government officer acknowledging that the statement is made under oath under penalty of perjury.
When is a Conflicts Questionnaire Required?
· A person seeking to contract with the local government must fill out a conflict of interest disclosure questionnaire within 7 business days of
o Beginning contract discussions or negotiations
o Or submitting an application, response to a request for proposal or bid,
o Or other communication related to a potential contract.
o Failure to file a questionnaire is a class C misdemeanor.
o HB 914 requires the Ethics Commission to adopt the conflict of interest questionnaire, not later than December 1, 2005. The forms will be available on the Ethics Commission Website after they are adopted.
o A vendor or person is not required to file a conflict of interest questionnaire before January 1, 2006.
What does the Conflict of Interest Questionnaire require a vendor to report?
· Description of each affiliation or business relationship the vendor or person has with each local government officer;
· Identify which local governmental officer receives, or is likely to receive taxable income from the person filing the questionnaire;
· Identify the affiliation or business relationship that results in the person or vendor receiving taxable income from the local governmental entity.
· Describe each affiliation or business relationship with a corporation or other business entity in which the local government officer serves as an officer or director, and or holds ownership of 10% or more;
· Describe each relationship with an employee or contractor of the local governmental entity who makes recommendations with respect to the expenditure of public funds;
· Describe any affiliation or business relationship that might cause a conflict of interest.
Are there filing update requirements?
· A vendor or person required to file a conflict of interest questionnaire must file an updated questionnaire with the county clerk not later than:
o September 1 of each year a contractual relationship or negotiation is pending; and
o The seventh business day after the date of an event that would require the filing of the questionnaire.
o A vendor or person required to file a conflict of interest questionnaire is not required to file an updated questionnaire in a year in which they filed the initial questionnaire after June 1, but before September 1 of that year.
The county clerk must maintain a list of local government officers and shall make the list available to the public and any person who may be required to file a conflict of interest questionnaire.
List of Government Officers and employees to be considered in a conflict of interest:
The County Commissioner’s listed below are the local government officers referred to in question 4 on the Conflict of Interest Questionnaire (CIQ):
Kelly Snell – Precinct 1
Lester Gibson – Precinct 2
Will Jones– Precinct 3
Ben Perry – Precinct 4
Scott Felton – County Judge
The County Appointed Officials and a few selected others listed below are the local governmental entities referred to in question 3 on the Conflict of Interest Questionnaire (CIQ):
Kathy Van Wolfe – Elections Administration
Robert Wasson – Information Technology Director
Wayne Canaday – Maintenance of Equipment
Herman “Butch” Kelly – Human Resources
Steve Hendrick – Engineer
Sammy Sykora – Maintenance of Buildings
Tessa Slovak – Mental Health Court Services
Bobby Campos – Juvenile Probation
Eva Cruz Hamby – Health Services
Ken Bass – Purchasing Director
Steve Hernandez – Veteran’s Service Officer
Henry Ward – Precinct 1 Foreman
Andre Langrum – Precinct 2 Foreman
Pat Chisolm – Precinct 2 Administrative Assistant
Bill Polansky – Precinct 3 Foreman
Billy Garrett– Precinct 4 Foreman
Jerry Smith – Precinct 4 Senior Equipment Operator
(1) parent or child (relatives in the first degree);
(2) brother, sister, grandparent, or grandchild (relatives in the second degree); and
(3) great-grandparent, great-grandchild, aunt who is a sister of a parent of the individual, uncle who is a brother of a parent of the individual, nephew who is a child of a brother or sister of the individual, or niece who is a child of a brother or sister of the individual (relatives in the third degree).
A husband and wife are related to each other in the first degree by affinity.
For other relationships by affinity, the degree of relationship is the same as the degree of the underlying relationship by consanguinity. For example: if two individuals are related to each other in the second degree by consanguinity, the spouse of one of the individuals is related to the other individual in the second degree by affinity.
The ending of a marriage by divorce or the death of a spouse ends relationships by affinity created by that marriage unless a child of that marriage is living, in which case the marriage is considered to continue as long as a child of that marriage lives.