Section 17.4. (5) of the City Charter states that “The City Council shall provide adequate funding for the Ethics Office to fulfill its responsibilities. Currently, the exclusive funding source for the Commission is the City of Naples General Fund.
Yes! Ethics Commission meetings are public meetings with the exception of certain closed sessions pertaining to filed complaints.
Employees and officials are occasionally faced with situations where they are unsure how to proceed. If the employee or official believes that a conflict of interest could be created by taking a certain course of action, then that person can ask the Ethics Commission for a written opinion.
There are two ways to ask for ethics guidance, the first is what we call an “Informal” request. An Informal request is directed to the Executive Director and is generally answered by the Executive Director after he or she conducts some research and perhaps consults with our legal counsel. The second way to ask for an opinion is the request for a “Formal Advisory Opinion.” Once the request is submitted, it will be analyzed by the Executive Director and legal staff and presented to the Ethics Commission for an official determination. Once that occurs, the requester will receive a written opinion stating the Commission's opinion and reason(s) for that opinion.
A determination of probable cause means that the Ethics Commission has determined that there are reasonably trustworthy facts and circumstances to conclude that a Respondent should be charged with violating the City of Naples Ethics Code.
If requested by the alleged violator or ordered by the Ethics Commission, a public hearing will be scheduled. The full Commission on Ethics is impaneled to hear the case. An attorney, known as the “Advocate” will present the case on behalf of the Commission, the alleged violator may or may not retain legal counsel. Witnesses will testify, evidence will be introduced, and the Ethics Commission will render a ruling. If a violation is found, penalties can be imposed against the violator.
In some cases, the complainant may be called as a witness. The complainant is not an actual party to the proceeding and has no burden of proving the case.
All respondents are entitled to a public hearing in front of the Ethics Commission. A finding of probable cause is not appealable but if the respondent is ultimately found to be in violation of the Ethics Code, they can appeal that ruling to the Circuit Court.
The Commission may impose fines, reprimand violators or draft Letters of Advice. They may also order the violator to attend ethics training.