PROPOSED RULES

At its April 18, 2012, meeting, the Texas Ethics Commission voted to propose the following rules. The Ethics Commission invites public comment on the rules. A written statement should be mailed or delivered to Natalia Luna Ashley, Texas Ethics Commission, P.O. Box 12070, Austin, Texas 78711-2070, or by facsimile (FAX) to (512) 463-5777. A person who wants to offer spoken comments to the commission concerning the proposed rules may do so at any commission meeting during the public comment period at a commission meeting when the commission considers the proposed rules. Information concerning the time and location of commission meetings is available at http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/tec/meetings.htm or by telephoning (512) 463-5800.

Reduction and Waiver of Fines
Text of Proposed Rule

Non-Complying Sworn Complaints
Text of Proposed Rule


Chapter 18. GENERAL RULES CONCERNING REPORTS

Reduction and Waiver of Fines
Text of Proposed Rule

The proposed new language is indicated by underlined text.
The repealed text is indicated by [strikethrough] text.

[§ 18.23. Administrative Waiver of Fine]

[(a) A filer may request the executive director to waive a late fine by submitting an affidavit to the executive director that states facts that establish that:]

[(1) the report was filed late because of a medical emergency or condition that involved the filer, a family member or relative of the filer, a member of the filer’s household, or a person whose usual job duties include preparation of the report;]

[(2) the filer of the personal financial disclosure report is not an elected official, a candidate for election, or a salaried public servant, and the late report:]

[(A) was the first personal financial disclosure report filed late by the filer under Government Code chapter 572; and]

[(B) was filed no later than 30 days after the individual was notified that the report appeared to be late;]

[(3) the filer of the campaign finance report:]

[(A) had filed all previous reports by the applicable deadline;]

[(B) had no contributions, expenditures, or loans to report; and]

[(C) filed the report no later than 30 days after the filer was notified that the report appeared to be late;]

[(4) the filer reasonably relied on incorrect information given to the filer by the agency; or]

[(5) other administrative error by the agency.]

[(b) If, in the executive director’s discretion, the affidavit establishes grounds for a waiver under this section, the executive director shall waive the fine.]

§ 18.24. Personal Financial Statement Administrative Waiver and Reduction of Fines

(a) A filer may request that the executive director waive a late fine imposed on the filer in connection with a personal financial statement by submitting an affidavit to the executive director that states facts that establish that:

(1) the filer was not required to file the personal financial statement as a candidate for an elective public office, and the late report:

(A) was the first report filed late by the filer under Government Code, Chapter 572 in the 10 years preceding the deadline of the report at issue, excluding a late report for which a waiver was granted under paragraphs (2), (3), (4), (5), or (6) of this subsection; and

(B) was filed not later than 30 days after the deadline;

(2) the personal financial statement was filed late because of an unforeseen serious medical emergency that involved the filer, a family member or relative of the filer, a member of the filer’s household, or a person whose usual job duties include preparation of the report; the filer has received no more than one waiver under this paragraph in the 10 years preceding the deadline of the late report at issue; and the report was filed within a reasonable time after the deadline;

(3) the personal financial statement was filed late as a result of verifiable severe weather at the filer's location that prevented the filer from filing the report by the applicable deadline and the report was filed within a reasonable time after the deadline;

(4) the personal financial statement was filed late because the filer was on active military duty at the time of the filing deadline and the report was filed within a reasonable time after the deadline;

(5) the filer reasonably relied on incorrect information given to the filer by the agency; or

(6) other administrative error by the agency.

(b) A filer may request that the executive director reduce a late fine imposed on the filer in connection with a personal financial statement by submitting an affidavit to the executive director, who may reduce the fine to:

(1) $100 if:

(A) the report was filed in the proper format no more than one business day after the deadline; and

(B) the filer of the report has not received a reduction under this paragraph in the 10 years preceding the deadline of the late report at issue;

(2) $250 if:

(A) the filer was not required to file the report as a candidate for or holder of an elective public office;

(B) the report was filed in the proper format not later than 30 days after the deadline; and

(C) the filer has received no more than one reduction under this paragraph in the 10 years preceding the deadline of the late report at issue; or

(3) $250 if:

(A) the filer was required to file the report as an unopposed candidate for elective public office in a primary election;

(B) the report was filed in the proper format before the primary election; and

(C) the filer has received no more than one reduction under this paragraph in the 10 years preceding the deadline of the late report at issue.

(c) If, in the executive director’s discretion, the affidavit establishes grounds for a waiver or reduction under this section, the executive director may waive or reduce the fine.

§ 18.25. Administrative Waiver and Reduction of Fines (Other than Personal Financial Statements)

(a) A filer may request that the executive director waive a late fine imposed on the filer in connection with a report, other than a personal financial statement, by submitting an affidavit to the executive director that states facts that establish that:

(1) the late report:

(A) was the first report filed late in the 10 years preceding the deadline of the report at issue, excluding a late report for which a waiver was granted under paragraphs (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), or (7) of this subsection;

(B) disclosed no more than $2,000 in contributions, expenditures, or loans; and

(C) was filed not later than 30 days after the deadline;

(2) the report was filed late because the filer of the report experienced technical problems while filing the report electronically, and the filer:

(A) made a good-faith effort to timely file the report by speaking with the agency technical support for assistance during normal business hours on or before the filing deadline; and

(B) filed the report not later than seven business days after the deadline;

(3) the report was filed late because of an unforeseen serious medical emergency that involved the filer, a family member or relative of the filer, a member of the filer's household, or a person whose usual job duties include preparation of the report, the filer has received no more than one waiver under this paragraph in the 10 years preceding the deadline of the late report at issue and the report was filed within a reasonable time after the deadline;

(4) the report was filed late as a result of verifiable severe weather at the filer’s location that prevented the filer from filing the report by the applicable deadline and the report was filed within a reasonable time after the deadline;

(5) the report was filed late because the filer was on active military duty at the time of the filing deadline and the report was filed within a reasonable time after the deadline;

(6) the filer reasonably relied on incorrect information given to the filer by the agency; or

(7) other administrative error by the agency.

(b) A filer may request that the executive director reduce a late fine imposed on the filer in connection with a report, other than personal financial statement, by submitting an affidavit to the executive director, who may reduce the fine to:

(1) $100 if:

(A) the report was filed in the proper electronic format after midnight and before 1:00 a.m. on the day after the deadline; and

(B) the filer of the report has received no more than one reduction under this paragraph in the 10 years preceding the deadline of the late report at issue;

(2) $200 if:

(A) the report was filed in the proper format no more than one business day after the filing deadline;

(B) the report is not a report due eight days before an election, including a report due eight days before a runoff election; and

(C) the filer of the report has not received a reduction under this paragraph in the 10 years preceding the deadline of the late report at issue; or

(3) $300 if:

(A) the report was filed in the proper format no more than one business day after the filing deadline;

(B) the report is not a report due eight days before an election, including a report due eight days before a runoff election; and

(C) the filer of the report has not received a reduction under this paragraph in the 10 years preceding the deadline of the late report at issue.

§ 18.27. Sworn Complaints

(a) The commission may consider the fine amounts established by this chapter in determining the amount of a fine to be assessed in a sworn complaint proceeding.

(b) The commission is not required to waive or reduce the fine for a respondent who files a corrected report in response to a sworn complaint but may consider the correction to be a mitigating factor in determining the amount of any fine.

(c) The executive director shall not waive or reduce the fine under this chapter for a respondent who files a late or corrected report in response to a sworn complaint.


Chapter 12. SWORN COMPLAINTS

Non-Complying Sworn Complaints
Text of Proposed Rule

The proposed new language is indicated by underlined text.

§ 12.51 Non-Complying Complaint

(a) A complaint does not comply with the requirements of section 571.122 of the Government Code if:

1) the complaint includes an allegation of conduct that the commission has previously determined is not a violation of a statute or rule within the commission»s jurisdiction; and

2) before the complaint was filed the complainant was provided notice that such conduct is an invalid basis for an allegation.

(b) A complainant has been provided notice if, before a complaint is filed, the commission states the basis for rejecting an allegation in a written communication mailed to the complainant at the last address provided to the commission by the complainant, or in a written communication transmitted by electronic mail to the complainant at the last electronic mail address provided to the commission by the complainant.

 
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