The Ethics Review Board seeks to uphold and enforce high ethical standards and promote the public’s confidence in the government of the City of New Orleans.
Functions and Authority
The Ethics Review Board is authorized by the Code of Ordinances for City of New Orleans to administer and enforce the provisions of the Code of Ethics of the City. The Code of Ethics was established to remind each public official and employee that individually and collectively, public officials and employees must adhere to high ethical standards not simply to avoid sanctions or criticism. It applies to all officials of the government of the city, whether elected or appointed; all employees, whether classified or unclassified; and all members and/or employees of all boards, agencies, commissions, advisory committees, public trusts, and public benefit corporations of the city. Any person may file a complaint concerning violations of the Code of Ethics with the Ethics Review Board.
The Ethics Review Board is empowered to represent the public interest in the administration of any law within its jurisdiction; offer and enter into consent opinions regarding violations of the provisions of any law within its jurisdictions; refer to fact-finding complaints, advisory opinions, media reports, oral reports, referrals, or any other source; prescribe rules of order, evidence, and procedure to govern its meetings, hearings, and investigations; take such steps as may be necessary to maintain proper order and decorum during the course of its hearings and other proceedings, consistent with the resolution of matters coming before it for consideration; and include on the agenda for Board consideration any matter that is of interest to any Board member and that is within the Board’s jurisdiction.
History of Ethics Review Board
In 1996, citizens of New Orleans voted to amend the Home Rule Charter to mandate the Council to establish by ordinance an Ethics Review Board. Under that ordinance the Board is empowered to issue advisory opinions, promulgate rules regarding interpretation and enforcement of the Code of Ethics, retain counsel and impose fines. Other relevant Charter provisions can be found in Article IX, Chapter 1 (“Boards and Commissions in General”), as well as other provisions of the Home Rule Charter as it may relate to the context of the work of the Ethics Review Board.
The selection of board members occurred in December 2006 at which time the members met to begin their initial task of educating themselves on their new role. Under Article XIII, Sec. 2-1120 (3) of the Code of Ordinances for the City of New Orleans, the newly formed Ethics Review Board was required to begin a national search for the city’s first inspector general. The inspector general search began in March 2007 and a final selection was made in June 2007. In the subsequent months, the inspector general and the Ethics Review Board worked to secure an adequate joint budget appropriation for the Office of Inspector General and the Ethics Review Board in the amount of $3.4 million. Additionally, in 2007 the Board drafted Rules for the Ethics Review Board governing the transactions of its business.