Democratic Caucus of the Monroe County Legislature

Democrats Propose Ban on Receipt of Gifts from County Contractors

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Rochester, New York – June 13, 2013.  Democrats in the Monroe County Legislature have proposed significant reforms to the County’s Code of Ethics to enact a clear ban on officers or employees accepting gifts from anyone doing business with the County. For the first time, this proposal would also prohibit Local Development Corporation (LDC) Board Members from receiving gifts from anyone doing business with the County.

“By tightening the language in our Code of Ethics, we can ensure officers and employees of this County have the guidance they need to stay in compliance with the law,” Legislator Josh Bauroth (D-Rochester), the proposal’s sponsor, said. “In recent years we have also seen a tremendous amount of county operations transferred to LDCs. Because of this, we need to make sure LDC board members adhere to the same rules as other officers and employees of the County.”

Under the current Code of Ethics, officers and employees can accept gifts of any value from someone doing business with the County provided that it could be “reasonably inferred” the gift was not intended to influence the officer or employee. This clause would be eliminated by the proposed reforms to prohibit officers or employees from receiving any gifts from any person, firm or corporation which has a direct or indirect interest in the business or professional dealings of Monroe County.

“It’s not right that County officers and employees could currently be receiving gifts from companies doing business with the County, but that is the reality,” Democratic Leader Carrie Andrews (D-Rochester) said. “There needs to be a bright line when it comes to ethics laws for government entities. This legislation would eliminate any gray area so there is absolutely no confusion about what is and is not acceptable.”

The Democratic proposal would allow an exemption if the officer or employee received the gift from a family member who happens to work for a firm interested in County operations.