Ethical Practices Board: Frequently Asked Questions
Why does the City of Minneapolis have an Ethics Code?
The City of Minneapolis has an Ethics Code to promote high ethical standards and conduct, and to foster a healthy ethical culture throughout city government. The Ethics Code is an ethical guide that reflects the values of our city. The people of Minneapolis deserve elected and appointed officials, city employees and volunteers who maintain the highest ethical principles, so that the people can be best served.
What is the purpose of the Ethical Practices Board?
The purpose of the Ethical Practices Board is to facilitate the formal complaints against the Ethics Code, and write Binding Advisory Opinions on its own initiative or when requested.
When the Board receives a complaint, it will review the allegations by interpreting the Code, making findings of fact as necessary, and reporting the official decisions. The City’s Ethics Officer will respond to local officials and employee questions about the Ethics Code and offer opinions on interpretations.
Who do I contact if there may be an ethics violation?
Contact the City’s Ethics Officer for any questions about the Ethics Code.
Ethics Officer for the Ethical Practices Board
333 South 7th Street, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Phone: (612) 673-3230
Fax: (612) 673-3362
What is a "conflict of interest," and how do I address a potential "conflict of interest?"
"A local official or employee, whether paid or unpaid, shall avoid any situation that might give rise to a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest is present when, in the discharge of official duties, a local official or employee participates in a governmental decision, action or transaction in which he or she has a financial interest, except when that financial interest is no great than that of another member of his or her business classification, profession or occupation. A financial interest is any interest, including loans, which shall yield, directly or indirectly, a monetary or other material benefit to the local official or employee (other than monetary or other material benefits authorized by the city)." M.C.O. § 15.40 (a). This means that a local official or employee should remove themselves from participating in any action where a conflict of interest exists. For more information on how to address conflicts of interest read M.C.O. § 15.40 (a)-(c).
What constitutes a "gift," and under what circumstances am I unable to accept a "gift"?
"A local official or employee shall not solicit or accept any gift from an interested person, lobbyist, or principal who has a direct financial interest in a decision that the local official or employee us authorized to make." M.C.O. §15.50 (a). This means that a local official or employee may not accept any type of gift (i.e. a meal, a prize, a vacation) from any person or group that has a direct financial interest in a matter that the city official or employee may take part in. Read M.C.O. § 15. 50 (b) for more information.
See Sample Gift Return Letter (pdf) for suggestion on how to return gifts given to Minneapolis employees or elected officials.
What type of post-employment could potentially be a violation with the City’s Ethics Code?
"A former local official or employee shall not disclose or use any confidential, private, nonpublic, privileged or proprietary information gained by reason of his or her city employment." M.C.O. § 15.90 (a). A former local official or employee who has left the City of Minneapolis within 1 year may not work on behalf of any person or organization which has matters before the city. Read M.C.O. § 15.90 (b) and (c) for more information.
What are the sanctions if the Ethics Code has been violated?
"An appointed or classified employee who violates the code of ethics may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of city employment." M.C.O. § 15. 240 (a). If the Board finds that the Ethics Code has been violated through a formal hearing process, then the Board must report the findings to the mayor, the Ways and Means Committee, City Council, and the department head. The Board will also make recommendations of discipline for the violation.
Last updated Sep 18, 2018