The Senate Government Operations Committee took up a draft bill on Tuesday that would make miscellaneous changes to ethics laws. Legislative Counsel walked through the bill with the Committee.
Committee bill is primarily about executive officers and candidates for statewide offices who are delinquent with required filing of financial disclosures. In this circumstance, the Ethics Commission would issue a notice of delinquency. The candidate would have five days to cure, otherwise notice gets sent to office of Attorney General who has 90 days to investigate (or decide not to investigate if candidate has due cause). The penalty will be $10/day that the filing is late, but no more than $1,000. If the Office of Attorney General decides not to pursue, the Ethics Commission shall be notified along with rationale for not pursuing investigation.
Offices covered includes Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Auditor, Treasurer, Secretary of State, etc. The Secretary of State's office shall post disclosure forms on their website and forward a copy of the disclosure form to the Ethics Commission. The Commission may avail itself of any resources necessary to collect any unpaid penalty. If there is any suspected fraud or cover up, disclosing of false information, etc. it would be considered a violation of statute and shall be forward to the Attorney General for review. There is an open question about where the penalties go. The Committee will need to determine this and perhaps put it in the bill.
Finally, the bill charges the Ethics Commission with generating a report for a framework for municipal ethics in Vermont along with specific recommendation on how to implement.
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