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 MAY 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 DO I FILE A COMPLAINT?
A complaint may be filed in any written form as long as it is signed under oath by the person making the complaint, and it must contain a statement that the complainant has reason to believe that a violation of this chapter has occurred and describe any facts known to the complainant to support that belief. AS 24.60.170(b). A blank complaint form is available by clicking either the link in the top right hand corner or at the bottom of this page, or you may request a complaint form from the Ethics Office. Complaints must be:
- in writing,
- notarized, and
- submitted to the committee in a sealed envelope either by mail or by hand delivery. The committee does not accept emailed or faxed complaints.
Complaints improperly submitted will be returned, with all accompanying materials, with instructions for proper filing.
WHEN MAY I FILE A COMPLAINT?
A complaint may be filed at any time unless 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. In that case, 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 I FILE AN ETHICS COMPLAINT?
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 or of all members of one house. The committee lacks authority to consider complaints filed against family members of legislators or legislative employees.
WHO HEARS MY COMPLAINT?
Steps taken by the committee when a complaint is filed
- Verify the complaint is sworn to and validly filed against a person subject to the Ethics Act and that the alleged misconduct occurred within the timeframes set out in statute. (Note: If filed against a candidate during the campaign period, complaint must be returned to the complainant unless the subject waives suspension.)
- Provide a copy of the complaint to the subject of the complaint.
- 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.
- 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.
- Decide whether there is probable cause to believe the subject has violated the Legislative Ethics Act. If not, the complaint must be dismissed.
- Decide whether the probable violation can be corrected by the subject 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 subject may request a confidential in-person meeting or teleconference meeting with the committee at which the committee shall explain the reasons for the decision. The subject 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 subject 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.
- 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 subject does not admit to the allegations, the committee must schedule a formal, public hearing.
- Hold a formal hearing to take testimony and other evidence, and decide whether there is clear and convincing evidence that the subject violated the Legislative Ethics Act. The committee may also indicate whether the subject cooperated with the committee in the complaint process.
- Recommend to the appropriate legislative body (for legislators) or the appointing authority (for legislative employees) the penalty the committee believes is warranted.
Alleging a Violation of the Alaska Legislative Ethics Act – AS 24.60