Real Deal Ethics Bills

By Adam Pagnucco.

The ethics scandal involving MoCo’s former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) was a trying moment for the county government but it has produced a happy outcome: the introduction of two robust ethics bills by Council Member Andrew “Real Deal” Friedson. Together, the two bills – if passed – will ensure that the events leading to the now-former CAO’s resignation will never happen again.

Quoting the introduction packet, Bill 42-20 would:

1. Require the Executive to disclose a proposed employment contract with an appointee to a non-merit position and any employment contract with an employee currently serving in a non-merit position to the Council;

2. Include the sale or promotion of certain intellectual property by a public employee as other employment;

3. Prohibit a public employee who has received compensation from an individual or organization in the previous 12 months from participating in a procurement with that individual or organization;

4. Require a public employee who participates in a procurement process with an individual or organization seeking to do business with the County that compensated the public employee for services performed more than 12 months before the participation began to disclose the prior relationship to the Procurement Director;

5. Require an elected official or non-merit employee to disclose, with some exceptions, the source of each fee greater than $1,000 received for services in a financial disclosure statement; and

6. Prohibit the Chief Administrative Officer from engaging in other employment.

Bill 43-20 would prohibit severance pay to non-merit employees. The bill’s language says:

The Executive or a Councilmember must not authorize any payment of money or paid administrative leave to a non-merit employee in the Executive Branch or in the Legislative Branch upon separation from County employment unless the payment is expressly authorized by law. The Executive or a Councilmember must not enter into an employment agreement with a non-merit employee that provides for any type of severance pay for an employee who is terminated with or without cause.

The bill allows payments of unused leave and discontinued pensions. It expressly prohibits “severance pay for an employee who admits to or is found to have violated the Ethics Law in the 12 months prior to separation from County employment.”

These bills are an absolute no-brainer. The entire county council should be all over them like white on rice.