- These rules govern the procedures for enforcing the Michigan Government Finance Officers Association (MGFOA) Code of Ethics as adopted by the MGFOA membership.
- All members of MGFOA agree to abide by the Code of Ethics.
- The purpose of these rules is to provide a reasonable process for investigating and determining whether a member has violated the code, and to afford each individual member who is the subject of an investigation (the "respondent") a full and fair opportunity to be heard throughout the process.
- It is the intention of the MGFOA membership that these rules be carried out carefully but expeditiously in order to minimize the time during which a member may be subject to possible disciplinary action. Accordingly, time limits stated in these rules are binding, subject to extensions which may be granted by the Board of Directors for reasonable cause, upon request.
- No person may participate in any proceedings on a complaint brought under these rules if that person is or may be a witness or complainant in that case, or if his or her participation would otherwise create, or appear to create, a conflict of interest. The President may select a replacement for any person who is unable to participate in the case for this reason.
- All members of MGFOA are subject to the Code of Ethics and are subject to sanctions for any violations thereof which occur during their membership. A member may be subject to sanctions for a violation which continues while he or she is a member even though the conduct in question originated prior to admission to membership.
- If a complaint is made against a person who was a member at the time the alleged violation occurred but who is not a member at the time the complaint is made, the complaint will be processed under these procedures only if the former member agrees in writing. In no event shall a person be readmitted to membership if there is an outstanding and unresolved complaint against him or her for conduct while formerly a member.
- The Committee on Professional Conduct ("the committee", or "CPC") shall retain jurisdiction over an investigation of a respondent who, before the conclusion of the investigation, resigns from MGFOA or otherwise allows his or her membership in MGFOA to lapse.
- The MGFOA Board of Directors ("the Board") is responsible for making the final decision on matters pertaining to the enforcement of the code, including, but not limited to, sanctions for the violation thereof. No current or former member may be publicly censured, expelled, or barred from membership without the approval of the Board.
- The Committee on Professional Conduct is the committee of MGFOA responsible for assisting the Board in implementing these rules and has the specific duties set forth hereinafter.
The CPC shall consist of five members of MGFOA who shall be selected by the President and confirmed by the Board.
CPC members shall not have formal terms of office, but shall serve on a case-by-case basis.
The CPC shall serve as a fact-finding committee and, as such, shall be responsible for conducting the investigation of a complaint of a violation of the code in accordance with these rules.
- It is the responsibility of the Board to publicize the existence and importance of the code with elected officials and the general public.
- Sanctions may be imposed in accordance with these rules upon members who are found to have violated the code. In determining the kind of sanction to be imposed, the following factors may be considered: the nature of the violation, prior violations by the same individual, the willfulness of the violation, the level of professional or public responsibility of the individual, and any other factors which bear upon the seriousness of the violation.
- The following sanctions may be imposed singly or in combination at the conclusion of an investigation and/or hearing under these rules:
Private Censure. A letter to the respondent and the complainant indicating that the respondent has been found to have violated the Code of Ethics, that MGFOA disapproves of such conduct, and that, if it is repeated in the future, it may be cause for more serious sanctions. If the complainant is a non-member, he or she shall be notified that the case was considered and resolved, and that no public action was taken.
Public Censure. Notification to the respondent, complainant, state association, appropriated local governing bodies, and news media, indicating that a violation of the code took place and that MGFOA strongly disapproves of such conduct, and the nature of the sanctions(s) imposed.
Expulsion. A revocation of the respondent's membership privileges.
Membership Bar. A prohibition against reinstatement of the respondent's membership in MGFOA.
- Upon receiving documented evidence that a member has been found guilty after trial by a judge or a jury of criminal conduct, which constitutes a violation of the MGFOA Code of Ethics and which occurred while the person was a member of MGFOA, the Board shall immediately issue a notice of suspension of membership to that person by registered mail and that person's membership shall be suspended as of the date of that notice. The Board shall advise the CPC of any such action and shall refer the case to the CPC. The CPC may commence an investigation in accordance with Part VI hereof, or it may defer proceedings until the person has exhausted all appeals or the time for appeal has expired. The suspension shall continue in effect until such time as sanctions provided under Part IV-B. are imposed, or the case is dismissed, in accordance with these rules.
V. Initiation of Procedures
- Proceedings against an individual for an alleged violation of the Code of Ethics may be initiated by the President, or his or her designee, upon receiving a written complaint or other written information from any source indicating that a violation may have occurred.
- Within fifteen (15) days after receiving such a written complaint or information, the President, or his or her designee, must ascertain whether it is sufficiently clear and complete to initiate proceedings, and, if so, whether it alleges conduct that may be a violation of the Code of Ethics. If the President, or his or her designee, concludes that the complaint is not sufficiently clear or complete to initiate proceedings, it shall seek further clarification from the complainant or other source before taking any further action.
If the President, or his or her designee, cannot determine whether the conduct alleged, if proven, might violate the Code of Ethics, it shall refer the question to the CPC for a ruling. No further action shall be taken with respect to the complaint or information unless the CPC rules that the conduct alleged, if true, may constitute a violation of the code.
If the President, or his or her designee, concludes that the complaint is sufficiently clear and complete to initiate proceedings, and may, if proven, indicate a violation of the code, a copy of the complaint or information shall be forwarded by registered mail to the respondent named in the complaint or information. The respondent shall be informed at the time of the provisions of the code which he or she is alleged to have violated. The President, or his or her designee, may also request that the respondent answer specific questions pertaining to the alleged violation.
The respondent shall be given thirty (30) days within which to respond in writing to the complaint or information, to provide any further information or material he or she considers relevant to the allegations, and to answer any specific questions asked by the President, or his or her designee.
As soon as the respondent's response is received, but in no event more than thirty (30) days after written notice of the alleged violation has been given to the respondent, the President, or his or her designee, shall refer the case to the CPC for proceedings in accordance with these rules.
- Upon receiving a case of an alleged violation of the Code of Ethics from the President, or his or her designee, the committee shall commence an investigation into the allegations. However, no investigation shall be required if (1) the respondent admits to the violation in his or her initial response, or (2) the respondent has already entered a guilty plea, or has been found guilty and has exhausted all appeals in a criminal case involving the same conduct.
- In all cases other than those in which an investigation is not required, the CPC's investigation shall be conducted in accordance with the following:
The CPC must meet within fifteen (15) days of the request made by the President or his or her designee.
The committee shall afford the respondent an opportunity to meet with the committee in person and may, at its discretion, afford such an opportunity to the complainant as well. The respondent may appear at such a meeting personally and may be accompanied by a representative. Alternatively, the respondent may appear through a representative.
The committee shall prepare and maintain notes of all meetings and interviews with the respondent, the complainant, and any witnesses, and may request any such person to sign a statement prepared on the basis of those notes. The respondent shall be entitled to review these notes and statements, and any other documentary evidence gathered in the course of the investigation, and shall be afforded the opportunity to respond in writing.
The committee shall take all reasonable steps to ascertain the facts relevant to the case, including, but not limited to, interviews with witnesses, review of the respondent's submission(s), and examination of all published material judged to be relevant and reliable.
Within sixty (60) days of the first meeting of the committee, the investigation shall be concluded, and a written report of the committee's proposed findings of fact shall be sent to the Board and the respondent. Each finding must be supported by reliable and relevant evidence which has been made available to the respondent for review. The committee's report shall also include a recommendation regarding sanctions.
- The Board shall, at its next regularly scheduled meeting, review the CPC's proposed findings of fact and shall ascertain whether they are supported by sufficient reliable and relevant evidence.
If the evidence is not sufficient, the Board may either (a) dismiss the case, or (b) return it to the CPC for further investigation in accordance with these rules.
If the Board determines that the proposed findings are supported by the evidence, it shall determine whether they demonstrate that a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred. If not, it shall dismiss the case and so advise the respondent and the CPC.
If the Board concludes on the basis of the CPC's report that a violation has occurred, it shall adopt, or revise and adopt the report. The Board shall then notify the respondent of its intent to impose the specified sanction(s) for the reasons stated unless the respondent can show that the findings of fact are erroneous, or that the proposed sanction(s) should not be imposed in light of certain mitigating factors which the CPC did not previously consider. The respondent shall have fifteen (15) days in which to submit a written response to the Board and/or request a hearing.
In the event that the respondent makes no submission, and does not request a hearing, the Board shall promptly impose the sanctions approved in section VII-A-3.
In the event that the respondent requests a hearing, the Board shall conduct said hearing in accordance with part VIII of these rules. No sanction(s) shall be imposed before the hearing is conducted.
- Upon receiving notice from the Board of its determination that a private censure is the appropriate sanction, and that the respondent has not requested a hearing, the Board shall send a letter of private censure. If the complainant is a non-member, notification shall occur in accordance with section IV-B-1. The case shall then be closed.
No other notification of a private censure shall be made. However, MGFOA may publish the fact that certain kinds of conduct have resulted in the issuance of private censures, provided that no names or identifying details are disclosed.
- Upon the Board's determination that a public censure, expulsion, or membership bar is the appropriate sanction, and that the respondent has not requested a hearing, the Board may vote to adopt the recommended decision of the CPC, to modify said decision, or to dismiss the case without imposing sanctions. The respondent shall be immediately notified of the decision of the Board and the sanction, if any, shall be implemented.
- These procedures shall govern all hearings conducted pursuant to these rules.
- No Board member may hear any case if his or her participation in that case would create an actual or apparent conflict of interest.
- Within ten (10) days of receiving a request for a hearing, the Board shall notify the respondent by registered or certified mail that a hearing has been scheduled before the Board. The hearing date shall be at least fifteen (15) days after the date the notice is postmarked. The notice shall also state that the respondent has the following rights:
To appear personally at the hearing.
To be accompanied and represented at the hearing by an attorney or other representative.
To review all documentary evidence, if any, against him or her, in advanced of the hearing.
To cross-examine any witness who testifies against him or her at the hearing.
To submit documentary evidence, and to present testimony, including the respondent's in his or her defense at the hearing.
- The Board shall not be bound by any formal rules of evidence but may accord appropriate weight to the evidence based on its relevance and reliability.
The CPC's report shall be admissible evidence at the hearing.
The Board may not hear evidence of any alleged ethics violation by the respondent that was not the subject of the initial investigation.
- At any hearing conducted under these rules, the Board shall first present evidence in support of its recommended decision. Upon conclusion of its presentation, the respondent shall have the opportunity to present evidence in his or her defense.
- Within five (5) working days of the conclusion of the hearing, the Board shall render a decision in the case.
The decision shall be in writing and shall include a statement of the reasons. Only evidence which was put before the Board may be considered as a basis for the decision.
The Board's decision may be to:
- Dismiss the case.
- Adopt the findings and sanction(s) recommended by the CPC.
- Revise, and adopt as revised, the findings and/or sanction(s) recommended by the CPC. No sanction may be imposed for any violation of which the respondent had no prior notice.
A copy of the written decision of the Board shall be sent immediately by registered mail to the respondent, the Board Secretary and the CPC. The original shall be placed in a permanent file at the Michigan Municipal League offices.
Promptly after receiving a copy of the written decision, the Board shall implement the sanction(s), if any, in accordance with these rules.