FILING AN ETHICS COMPLAINT
This page will assist you in understanding how to file an ethics complaint with the Alaska Legislature's Ethics Committee and also provide you with a synopsis of the complaint process.
WHO CAN FILE AN ETHICS COMPLAINT?
Anyone who believes a person covered by the Ethics Act has violated the Alaska Legislative Ethics Act may file a written, notarized complaint with the Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee may also initiate complaints.
HOW DOES ONE FILE A COMPLAINT?
If you are considering filing a complaint, you are encouraged to use a complaint form. A blank complaint form is available on this web site. Complaints will be accepted in any form so long as they are in writing and notarized. NOTE: The committee does not accept complaints through e-mail. They must be signed, notarized and mailed or hand delivered, in a sealed envelope.
WHEN CAN ONE FILE A COMPLAINT?
A complaint may be filed at any time. However, if a complaint is filed against a legislator or legislative employee who is a candidate for state office and the complaint is filed during a *campaign period, the committee must return the complaint without action unless the candidate waives the suspension of action within 11 days of official receipt of a complaint. The complaint may be refiled after the closure of the *campaign period.
*Campaign Period: begins on the later of 45 days before a primary election or the day on which the individual files as a candidate for state office and ends at the close of election day for general or special elections or on the day the candidate withdraws from the election, whichever is earlier.
AGAINST WHOM MAY AN ETHICS COMPLAINT BE FILED?
The Ethics Committee may consider complaints filed against current and former legislators and current legislative employees, including public members of the Ethics Committee, if the complaint alleges that a violation occurred within five years of the filing date.
The committee has authority to reinstate a complaint that was closed upon an employee's termination if the employee is rehired or elected to legislative office within five years of the date of the complaint.
The committee may not consider complaints against all members of the legislature of all members of one house. The committee lacks authority to consider complaints filed against family members of legislators or legislative employees.
WHO HEARS THE COMPLAINT?
The House Subcommittee hears complaints against representatives, former representatives, and employees of representatives and committees of the House, chaired by representatives. The Senate Subcommittee hears complaints against senators, former senators and employees of senators and committees of the Senate, chaired by senators. The full Ethics Committee considers complaints against employees of legislative agencies, joint committees and the public members and employees of the Ethics Committee.
Meetings of the Ethics Committee to consider a complaint are confidential. The complaint and committee documents are confidential. Decisions released by the committee on complaints, which the committee investigated, are public.
If the complaint advances to a public hearing, documents issued by the committee or documents presented at the formal hearing are open to public inspection. All committee deliberations, however, are confidential.
STEPS TAKEN BY THE COMMITTEE WHEN A COMPLAINT IS FILED
1. Verify the complaint is sworn to and validly filed against a person subject to the Ethics Act and alleged misconduct occurred within the timeframes set out in statute. (Note: If filed against a candidate during the campaign period, complaint must be returned, unless the subject waives suspension.) Send a copy of the complaint to the subject of the complaint immediately.
2. Decide whether the allegations in the complaint would constitute a violation of the Legislative Ethics Act over which the committee has jurisdiction if they were proven to be true. If not, the complaint must be dismissed.
3. Pass a resolution defining the scope of the investigation to be conducted and then investigate the facts of the case. A copy of the resolution is given to the complainant and the subject of the complaint.
4. Decide whether there is probable cause to believe the accused person has violated the Legislative Ethics Act. If not, the complaint must be dismissed. If probable cause is found, the committee must determine whether they may proceed if the complaint concerns a candidate during the campaign period.
5. Decide whether the probable violation can be corrected by the accused person and whether or not additional penalty is warranted. If a probable violation can be corrected, the committee may issue an opinion recommending corrective action. The accused person may request a meeting with the committee for the purpose of explaining the decision and then he or she may accept the recommended corrective action or request a formal hearing. After the meeting, the committee may change or reissue its opinion on corrective action. If the accused person does not take the recommended corrective action or the committee decides the probable violation cannot be corrected without additional penalty, the complaint continues to the next step.
6. Formally charge the accused person. If the person admits he or she violated the Act, the committee shall state the facts of the case and recommend a penalty. If the accused person does not admit to the allegations, the committee must schedule a formal, public hearing.
7. Hold a formal hearing to take testimony and other evidence, and decide whether there is clear and convincing evidence that the accused person violated the Legislative Ethics Act. The committee may also indicate whether the accused person cooperated with the committee in the complaint process.
8. Recommend to the appropriate legislative body (for legislators) or the appointing authority (for legislative employees) the penalty the committee believes is warranted.
QUESTIONS REGARDING THE COMPLAINT PROCESS
Please contact the committee administrator at (907) 269-0150.