Councilmember Sally J. Clark
Councilmember Tim Burgess
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen
Councilmember Jean Godden
Council President Richard Conlin
COUNCILMEMBERS SEEK TO BAN USE OF PUBLIC FUNDS TO PAY ETHICS FINES
SEATTLE – Five City Council members announced today they will introduce legislation prohibiting the use of taxpayer money to pay fines imposed by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission for violations of the city's ethics and elections laws.
Councilmembers Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, and Tom Rasmussen, who serve on the Council’s Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee, which has oversight responsibilities for ethics and elections issues, including the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, were joined by Council President Richard Conlin and Budget Committee Chair Jean Godden in announcing the proposed changes to city law.
Councilmember Sally J. Clark, Chair of the committee, said, "Employees carrying out their job duties should have the full faith and protection of the City behind them. However, when an ethics violation occurs, no matter how well intentioned the employee may have been, the fine should not be passed along to taxpayers."
Councilmember Tim Burgess, Vice-Chair of the committee, and a former Chair of the Ethics and Elections Commission, said, "Our city has a strong reputation for transparency and openness in government. We have extremely strong ethics and elections laws. But I had no idea we had such a gaping loophole that would allow public officials to use taxpayer money to pay a penalty imposed by the ethics commission. We will quickly close that loophole."
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, member of the oversight committee, said, "The public should not have to pay the fines of public officials who violate our ethics laws. We need to make it clear that all public officials will be responsible for their actions.”
Council President Richard Conlin added, “The Council takes its responsibility as stewards of the public trust very seriously and I’m pleased to make local government more accountable by closing this loophole. This change is a clear demonstration of the City Council’s integrity and commitment to uphold that trust.”
The Council will be working closely with the Ethics and Elections Commission and the City’s Law Department to introduce the legislation in September.