Birmingham Attorneys with experience representing public employees charged with ethics violations throughout Alabama and the nation
In addition to representing clients charged with accepting bribes and honest services fraud, our firm has also also counseled public employees and politicians regarding allegations of the violation of various ethics laws. These ethics laws generally apply to politicians, including District Attorneys, state legislators, local sheriffs, mayors, and elected judges as well as their families. Additionally, in some circumstances, ethics laws can also apply to government employees such as teachers, courthouse workers, law enforcement officers and lobbyists. However, not all employees are covered. Give our office a call and let us determine if you are subject to any ethics laws.
Alabama’s ethics laws fall under Code of Alabama (1975) §36-25-1, et seq. The laws are designed to prevent public offices from being used for private gain. Violations of the state ethics laws can be investigated by the Ethics Commission, or by the Attorney General. If the Ethics Commission’s investigation uncovers criminal activity, the Ethic’s Commission will then refer the case for prosecution to the appropriate District Attorney’s Office or to the Attorney General. This referral is supposed to be confidential, and violation of this rule of secrecy can actually be prosecuted as a Class C felony.
The Ethics Commission requires all public employees and candidates for public office complete and file a “Statement of Economic Interests” form setting forth financial interests that employee and their close family members have so that the public can know if there are any financial conflicts of interest between that employee and the actions they take in their official capacity. Failure to file this form, or providing inaccurate information can be prosecuted criminally.
Additional ethics rules generally state:
- Public officials cannot regulate any business with which they are associated
- Nothing of value can be offered a public official (or their family) in exchange for their official actions
- Campaign funds cannot be converted for personal use of the candidate
- Anyone lobbying the legislature must be registered
- Lobbyists can only offer public employees items of “de minimus” value
- No public employee can have a contract to provide services with the state unless it goes through a competitive bid
- Legislators cannot become lobbyists for a period of two years from their retirement from the legislature
Some violations of the state ethics laws can carry very harsh punishment including up to 20 years in prison as a Class B felony for anyone who intentionally violates the ethics laws by knowingly using their public office to personally profit. Additionally, such a conviction, in some cases, results in disqualification to carry a public office.
At Boles Holmes White, we know that ethics violation investigations are often political in nature. We know how to navigate the politics and get to the bottom of the situation to determine if there is a real violation, if the violation is defendable, or if the client is the victim of a political witch-hunt. If you are the subject of an ethics investigation, or have questions regarding an ethics matter give the Alabama ethics violation attorneys at Boles Holmes White a call today at 205-502-2000.