TAKOMA PARK — The Takoma Park City Council is considering changes to the ethics chapter of the City Code to comply with changes to the state’s ethics laws.
“The proposed ethics chapter amendments are primarily changes that are required by changes in state law and must make sure that our ordinance is at least as stringent as the state law,” said City Attorney Kenneth Sigman. “It also includes a few clarifications to existing law and essentially codifies [the] State Ethics Commission’s interpretations of the code language just so the ordinance is more clear on its face.”
Proposed changes to the city’s ethics law will follow legislation, HB1330, by Del. Herbert McMillan (R-D30), which passed during the 2018 legislative session in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly.
Changes to the city’s ethics law will prohibit former lobbyists to work on issues they previously lobbied on in the event they become city employees.
It also bans elected officials from using city resources to run a campaign for another office, extends the waiting period for former elected officials to engage in lobbying to one year, omits home addresses of public officials from campaign-finance disclosures, and requires public disclosure if an elected official’s spouse works as a lobbyist.
The changes will no longer require candidates for city offices to list exchange-traded funds unless the fund “is composed primarily of holding of stocks and interests in a specific sector or area that is regulated by the individual’s” city government.
While elected officials in the city may use their titles to promote themselves when running for another elected office, Sigman clarified that they are prohibited from using their city-provided email or city-provided business cards to promote their candidacies.
He also added that city employees will not be permitted to use their job titles should they run for elected office.
The City Council will have a first reading on the proposed changes on Wednesday, Sept. 12.