FAQ - Ethics Committee
Ethics Review Commission - Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the El Paso Ethics Review Commission?
The Ethics Review Commission serves as an advisory body to the Mayor and City Council on matters concerning ethics in government of the City of El Paso. All members of the Ethics Review Commission shall be residents of the city. No member shall hold any city elected office or be appointed to any position governed by this ordinance, or be a candidate for any such office or position. A member may contribute to a city political campaign, but to the extent this prohibition is consistent with the Charter, no member shall participate in any city political campaign or in a campaign relating to a referendum or other ballot issue in the city.
What are the duties of the Ethics Review Commission?
The Ethics Review Commission shall meet as necessary to accomplish the following duties. For the purposes of conducting meetings, a quorum shall consist of five members of the Commission.
- Oversee all ethics matters as defined by Chapter 2.92 of the El Paso Municipal Code (Ethics Ordinance) and assist the City Council in resolving ethical issues.
- Review, evaluate and provide recommendations on issues as requested by the City Council.
- Provide recommendations for the City Council regarding orientation programs or procedures for city Officers and volunteers concerning the importance of ethics in city government and on the provisions of the Ethics Ordinance
- Provide information to the community on ethics in city government, as may be necessary for the promotion of the public trust.
- Issue advisory opinions, as provided by charter in the manner set forth in subsection F. of the City Ethics Ordinance, paragraph 2.92.030.F.
- Review, evaluate and issue determinations, impose sanctions and provide recommendations to the City Council city council on ethics complaints filed in accordance with the Ethics Ordinance.
- Provide information on the disposition of specific issues by referring to minutes of commission meetings and Ethics Review Commission ethics review commission reports.
- Periodically review and propose changes to the Ethics Ordinance and the forms utilized pursuant thereto.
- Develop guidelines and procedures to promote compliance with the Ethics Ordinance.
- Prepare written annual reports for the City Council. Submit additional reports as needed.
Who does the El Paso Ethics Review Commission have jurisdiction over?
The Ethics Review Commission Ethics Commission has jurisdiction over persons subject to the City of El Paso Ethics Ordinance: Mayor and City Council, City Manager, City Attorney, City Employees, and members of City Boards and Commissions.
Who may file a complaint?
Any person (including a member of the Ethics Review Commission) who believes there has been a violation of the Ethics Ordinance may file a sworn complaint with the City Clerk to allege the violations.
How do I file a complaint?
A complaint filed pursuant to the Ethics Ordinance must be in writing and under oath and must set forth in simple, concise, and direct statements:
- The name of the complainant;
- The street or mailing address and the telephone number of the complainant;
- The name of each person complained about;
- The position or title of each person complained about;
- The nature of the alleged violation, including whenever possible, the specific provision of the Ethics Ordinance alleged to have been violated;
- A statement of the facts constituting the alleged violation and the dates on which or period of time in which the alleged violation occurred; and
- All documents or other material available to the complainant that are relevant to the allegation; a list of all documents or other material relevant to the allegation and available to the complainant but that are not in the possession of the complainant, including the location of the documents, if known; and a list of all documents or other material relevant to the allegation but unavailable to the complainant, including the location of the documents, if known.
The complaint must be accompanied by an affidavit stating that the information contained in the complaint is either true and correct or that the complainant has good reason to believe and does believe that the facts alleged constitute a violation of the Ethics Ordinance. If the complaint is based on information and belief, the complainant shall state the source and basis of the information and belief. Each complainant, other than a member of the Ethics Review Commission, shall swear to the facts by oath before a notary public or other person authorized by law to administer oaths under penalty of perjury. The complaint must state on its face an allegation that, if true, constitutes a violation of the Ethics Ordinance that is administered and enforced by the Ethics Review Commission.
May I file my complaint anonymously?
Not under the Ethics Ordinance. However, if you would like to make an anonymous complaint you may do so by using the City of El Paso Ethics Hotline at 866-614-9688 and appropriate investigation will take place, usually led by the Human Resources Department.
What actions are prohibited under the El Paso Ethics Ordinance?
What if my complaint is not covered by the Ethics Ordinance?
You may report the actions you are concerned about on the Ethics Hotline at 866-614-9688. If the matter involves a member of the El Paso Police Department you may file a complaint with the Internal Affairs Division of EPPD https://www.elpasotexas.gov/police-department/internal-affairs.
What do I need to provide in order to file a complaint under the Ethics Ordinance?
The complaint must state on its face an allegation that, if true, constitutes a violation of the Ethics Ordinance. See the response to question 5 above for the details of the complaint.
How soon can I expect to hear from the City with regard to the complaint?
Within 20 days of the filing of the complaint the City Attorney shall:
- Refer the matter to the Ethics Review Commission ethics review commission if the complaint is filed in conformity with the requirements of this section and the matter is within the purview of the Ethics Review Commission;
- In the event that deficiencies in the complaint are identified that prevent the City Attorney's Office from making a meaningful review of and determination regarding the appropriate disposition of the complaint, the City Attorney's Office may notify the complainant in writing of such deficiencies that could be capable of correction and request such correction within fifteen days of the date of the communication to the complainant. The time for action under this section shall be tolled while the City Attorney's Office awaits the complainant's response, up to a maximum of fifteen days;
- Dismiss any complaint that does not relate to a person subject to the jurisdiction of the Ethics Review Commission, or any complaint, that if true as alleged, would not as a matter of law constitute a violation of the Ethics Ordinance; or
- Refer complaints that cannot be readily assigned to the Ethics Review Commission because of deficiencies, complaints that lack specificity in identifying the alleged violations of this chapter, and complaints that appear to have been frivolously filed to a panel of the Commission.
What happens if the matter is referred to the Ethics Review Commission?
After hearing the complaint, the Ethics Review Commission will issue a decision or recommendation based on the information available to the Commission. The Ethics Review Commission must:
- Dismiss the complaint or find that no violation of the ordinance occurred, with the grounds for such dismissal or finding set forth in the report;
- Find that a violation of the Ethics Ordinance occurred and either find that a sanction is not appropriate, or, issue a letter of notification, letter of admonition, letter of reprimand, and/or recommend removal from office; or
- Recommend to the City Council that the City Council take up the matter in lieu of a recommendation for a specific action from the Ethics Review Commission and identify the reasons for such recommendation in the report. In such case, the City Council may exercise any and all of the duties and responsibilities of the Commission.
What are the consequences of an Officer or employee being found to have violated the Ethics Ordinance?
If the Ethics Review Commission decides a violation of the Ethics Ordinance has occurred the Commission may issue the sanctions set forth below:
- Letter of notification. A letter of notification may be issued when the Ethics Review Commission finds that a violation of this the Ethics Ordinance was clearly unintentional or when the action or conduct found to have been a violation of this chapter was performed by the official in reliance on a written opinion of the City Attorney. A letter of notification may advise the person to whom the letter is directed of any steps to be taken to avoid future violations.
- Letter of admonition. A letter of admonition may be issued when the Ethics Review Commission finds that the violation of the Ethics Ordinance was minor and/or may have been unintentional, but where the circumstances call for a more substantial response than a letter of notification.
- Letter of reprimand. A reprimand may be issued when the Ethics Review Commission finds that a violation of this chapter was committed intentionally or through disregard of the Ethics Ordinance.
- Removal from office. Removal from office may be recommended to the City Council for action when the Ethics Review Commission finds that a serious or repeated violation of the Ethics Ordinance was committed by an Officer intentionally or through culpable disregard of the Ethics Ordinance.