What are Financial Disclosure Requirements for Local Officials?

The Local Government Ethics Law

In NJ, local government officers are required pursuant to the Local Government Ethics Law to file Financial Disclosure Statements (“FDS”).

What must be disclosed?

Section 40A:9-22.6 lays out the required disclosures

Click here to see required disclosures

a. Local government officers shall annually file a financial disclosure statement. All financial disclosure statements filed pursuant to this act shall include the following information which shall specify, where applicable, the name and address of each source and the local government officer’s job title:

(1) Each source of income, earned or unearned, exceeding $2,000 received by the local government officer or a member of his immediate family during the preceding calendar year. Individual client fees, customer receipts or commissions on transactions received through a business organization need not be separately reported as sources of income. If a publicly traded security is the source of income, the security need not be reported unless the local government officer or member of his immediate family has an interest in the business organization;
(2) Each source of fees and honorariums having an aggregate amount exceeding $250 from any single source for personal appearances, speeches or writings received by the local government officer or a member of his immediate family during the preceding calendar year;
(3) Each source of gifts, reimbursements or prepaid expenses having an aggregate value exceeding $400 from any single source, excluding relatives, received by the local government officer or a member of his immediate family during the preceding calendar year;
(4) The name and address of all business organizations in which the local government officer or a member of his immediate family had an interest during the preceding calendar year; and
(5) The address and brief description of all real property in the State in which the local government officer or a member of his immediate family held an interest during the preceding calendar year.
b. The Local Finance Board shall prescribe a financial disclosure statement form for filing purposes. For counties and municipalities which have not established ethics boards, the board shall transmit sufficient copies of the forms to the municipal clerk in each municipality and the county clerk in each county for filing in accordance with this act. The municipal clerk shall make the forms available to the local government officers serving the municipality. The county clerk shall make the forms available to the local government officers serving the county.

For counties and municipalities which have established ethics boards, the Local Finance Board shall transmit sufficient copies of the forms to the ethics boards for filing in accordance with this act. The ethics boards shall make the forms available to the local government officers within their jurisdiction.

For local government officers serving the municipality, the original statement shall be filed with the municipal clerk in the municipality in which the local government officer serves. For local government officers serving the county, the original statement shall be filed with the county clerk in the county in which the local government officer serves. A copy of the statement shall be filed with the board. In counties or municipalities which have established ethics boards a copy of the statement shall also be filed with the ethics board having jurisdiction over the local government officer. Local government officers shall file the initial financial disclosure statement within 90 days following the effective date of this act. Thereafter, statements shall be filed on or before April 30th each year.
c. All financial disclosure statements filed shall be public records.

What constitutes a violation?

Section 40A:9-22.5 lays out the provisions with which local government officers and employees must comply.

Click here to see the list

Local government officers or employees under the jurisdiction of the Local Finance Board shall comply with the following provisions:

  1. No local government officer or employee or member of his immediate family shall have an interest in a business organization or engage in any business, transaction, or professional activity, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest;
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  2. No independent local authority shall, for a period of one year next subsequent to the termination of office of a member of that authority:
    1. award any contract which is not publicly bid to a former member of that authority;
    2. allow a former member of that authority to represent, appear for or negotiate on behalf of any other party before that authority; or
    3. employ for compensation, except pursuant to open competitive examination in accordance with Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes and the rules and regulations
      promulgated pursuant thereto, any former member of that authority. The restrictions contained in this subsection shall also apply to any business organization in which the former authority member holds an interest.
  3. No local government officer or employee shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself or others;
  4. No local government officer or employee shall act in his official capacity in any matter where he, a member of his immediate family, or a business organization in which he has an interest, has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment;
  5. No local government officer or employee shall undertake any employment or service, whether compensated or not, which might reasonably be expected to prejudice his independence of judgment in the exercise of his official duties;
  6. No local government officer or employee, member of his immediate family, or business organization in which he has an interest, shall solicit or accept any gift, favor, loan, political contribution, service, promise of future employment, or other thing of value based upon an understanding that the gift, favor, loan, contribution, service, promise, or other thing of value was given or offered for the purpose of influencing him, directly or indirectly, in the discharge of his official duties. This provision shall not apply to the solicitation or acceptance of contributions to the campaign of an announced candidate for elective public office, if the local government officer has no knowledge or reason to believe that the campaign contribution, if accepted, was given with the intent to influence the local government officer in the discharge of his official duties;
  7. No local government officer or employee shall use, or allow to be used, his public office or employment, or any information, not generally available to the members of the public, which he receives or acquires in the course of and by reason of his office or employment, for the purpose of securing financial gain for himself, any member of his immediate family, or any business organization with which he is associated;
  8. No local government officer or employee or business organization in which he has an interest shall represent any person or party other than the local government in connection with any cause, proceeding, application or other matter pending before any agency in the local government in which he serves.
    This provision shall not be deemed to prohibit one local government employee from representing another local government employee where the local government agency isĀ  the employer and the representation is within the context of official labor union or similar representational responsibilities;
  9. No local government officer shall be deemed in conflict with these provisions if, by reason of his participation in the enactment of any ordinance, resolution or other matter required to be voted upon or which is subject to executive approval or veto, no material or monetary gain accrues to him as a member of any business, profession, occupation or group, to any greater extent than any gain could reasonably be expected to accrue to any other member of such business, profession, occupation or group;
  10. No elected local government officer shall be prohibited from making an inquiry for information on behalf of a constituent, if no fee, reward or other thing of value is promised to, given to or accepted by the officer or a member of his immediate family, whether directly or indirectly, in return therefor; and
  11. Nothing shall prohibit any local government officer or employee, or members of his immediate family, from representing himself, or themselves, in negotiations or proceedings concerning his, or their, own interests.

How does one determine if an issue is a violation?

  • Someone covered by the Local Government Ethics Law
    may seek an advisory opinion from the Municipal Ethics Board pursuant to 40A:9-22.23.
  • Upon a written complaint to the municipal ethics board
    Upon receipt of a written complaint, a decision will be reached, if it is not determined to be outside their jurisdiction, frivolous or without any reasonable factual basis.

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