enforcementicon

Enforcement

City law requires the Ethics Commission to conduct confidential investigations of and enforce against violations of state and City laws regarding governmental ethics, lobbying, and campaign financing. When a violation has occurred, the Ethics Commission members may order compliance and assess an administrative monetary penalty.

PROCESS

The enforcement process is governed by the Investigation and Enforcement Regulations. Additional details are explained in the Overview of Enforcement Practices.

  • Investigation

    An investigation can begin in a variety of ways, such as a complaint made through the whistleblower program, an audit, a news article, or a referral from another government agency. Investigations are strictly confidential. However, the Ethics Commission staff may make referrals to or work with other departments or law enforcement agencies on a particular case.

  • Administrative Action

    Based on information gathered through an investigation, the Director of Enforcement determines whether to initiate an administrative enforcement action. When appropriate, the staff tries to resolve the matter without initiating an enforcement action. If a violation is about to occur or can be mitigated, efforts to educate the parties and obtain voluntary compliance are made. However, the staff is not always informed of activity in time to prevent a violation.

    If an administrative enforcement action is initiated, the Director of Enforcement typically tries to settle the case with the respondent. If settlement is not reached, a probable cause report is filed, and the Executive Director must determine whether probable cause exists to believe that the respondent violated the law.

    If the Executive Director determines that probable cause does exist, a public accusation must be issued. An accusation is the first time any information about the case becomes public. Once a public accusation is made, the case moves through an administrative hearing process. The Ethics Commission members select a hearing officer, typically an administrative law judge, to conduct the hearing and make recommendations about whether violations occurred.

  • Penalties

    Only the Ethics Commission members may determine that a violation occurred and, if so, what penalties are appropriate. Penalties that may be imposed include a cease and desist order; an order to file reports, statements, or other documents required by law; and an order to pay a monetary penalty to the City. The maximum monetary penalty is the greater of $5,000 per violation or three times the amount of money at issue.

    All enforcement orders since 1993 can be accessed through our Public Data Portal.

WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAM

The City Charter requires the Ethics Commission to maintain a whistleblower program. Anyone may use the program to report suspected violations of the City’s governmental ethics, conflict of interests, campaign finance, and lobbying laws. Reports may be made anonymously, and City law prohibits retaliation for reporting possible violations.

All City departments and appointed offices are required by law to report to the Ethics Commission potential violations of the laws, as well as potential instances of fraud, waste, or abuse, within ten days after discovery.

REPORT A VIOLATION

For questions regarding specific scenarios, please contact us prior to taking action.

  • Report a Violation of Campaign, Contract, Ethics, or Lobbying Laws

    Call

    213-978-1999 or toll free at 1-800-824-4825.

    When you call the Whistleblower Hotline, you will hear a short message and have an opportunity to record your message. You do not have to identify yourself. All information you provide will be treated confidentially by the City Ethics Commission and will be reviewed.

    Fax

    Complete and fax this form to 213-978-1988.

    Walk In or Mail

    200 N. Spring Street, Suite 2410
    Los Angeles, California 90012

    Complete and submit this form.

    Online

    Complete and submit the form below.

    You may optionally leave your contact information below.

    The Ethics Commission has the authority to investigate violations of state and City laws regarding campaign financing, lobbying, and governmental ethics. Complaints regarding other laws are referred to appropriate agencies. This complaint form does not constitute a written request to commence a civil action under Los Angeles Municipal Code sections 49.5.19(B)(3) or 49.7.38(B)(3). If you have a question regarding whether your complaint is within our jurisdiction, please contact us.

    You may make your complaint anonymously. If you do give us your name, we will not release it unless we receive your permission, we refer the complaint to another appropriate agency, or we are ordered by a court to release it. You are protected against retaliation for blowing the whistle on your coworkers and superiors.

    Investigations can be complex and can take many months to complete. We do not confirm or deny the existence of any complaint or investigation, and we do not provide updates on the status of complaints. We will not contact you unless we need additional information.

    Please provide the information requested below. The more information you give, the more helpful your complaint will be. Thank you for taking the time to submit your complaint.

    If you choose to file your complaint under penalty of perjury, please use the PDF complaint form instead of this online complaint form.

  • Report Other Types of Violations

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

For questions regarding specific scenarios, please contact us prior to taking action.

  • I want to report a violation, but I want to remain anonymous. Can I do that?

    Yes. Anonymous complaints can be made through the whistleblower program

  • What is the status of the complaint that I filed through the whistleblower program?

    Because of the strict confidentiality that applies to the Ethics Commission’s investigations, status updates are not provided to whistleblowers or other members of the public. All final enforcement determinations, including settlements, are public information and may be searched through our Public Data Portal.

  • I reported a violation three years ago, and nothing ever happened. Why not?

    Every complaint is reviewed by the Ethics Commission staff. However, there are a variety of reasons that action taken regarding your complaint may not be public information. For example, investigations are strictly confidential, and information about an enforcement case does not become public until an accusation is issued, which occurs well into the enforcement process. In addition, the Ethics Commission has four years to initiate an enforcement action (longer if the respondent concealed or deceived), so it may be that the violation you reported will become a public case in the future. It may also be that what appeared to be a violation was not actually a violation or could not be substantiated, which means that no enforcement action was necessary or possible. Finally, if a violation did occur, it may have been resolved through education and mitigation or through the Audit Policy, without the need for enforcement action.

  • What kinds of cases does the Ethics Commission enforce?

    The Ethics Commission enforces against violations in all of its program areas. Every enforcement order that the Ethics Commission has imposed in the past 25 years can be accessed through our Public Data Portal .

  • I just discovered that someone may have violated one of your laws five years ago. Can I still file a complaint?

    Yes. The statute of limitations for an administrative enforcement action is four years from the date of the alleged violation. However, the statute is tolled for violations involving concealment or deceit. You are welcome to report a violation at any time, and the staff will be able to determine how the statute of limitations applies.

PUBLIC DATA PORTAL

PROCESS

The enforcement process is governed by the Investigation and Enforcement Regulations. Additional details are explained in the Overview of Enforcement Practices.

  • Investigation

    An investigation can begin in a variety of ways, such as a complaint made through the whistleblower program, an audit, a news article, or a referral from another government agency. Investigations are strictly confidential. However, the Ethics Commission staff may make referrals to or work with other departments or law enforcement agencies on a particular case.

  • Administrative Action

    Based on information gathered through an investigation, the Director of Enforcement determines whether to initiate an administrative enforcement action. When appropriate, the staff tries to resolve the matter without initiating an enforcement action. If a violation is about to occur or can be mitigated, efforts to educate the parties and obtain voluntary compliance are made. However, the staff is not always informed of activity in time to prevent a violation.

    If an administrative enforcement action is initiated, the Director of Enforcement typically tries to settle the case with the respondent. If settlement is not reached, a probable cause report is filed, and the Executive Director must determine whether probable cause exists to believe that the respondent violated the law.

    If the Executive Director determines that probable cause does exist, a public accusation must be issued. An accusation is the first time any information about the case becomes public. Once a public accusation is made, the case moves through an administrative hearing process. The Ethics Commission members select a hearing officer, typically an administrative law judge, to conduct the hearing and make recommendations about whether violations occurred.

  • Penalties

    Only the Ethics Commission members may determine that a violation occurred and, if so, what penalties are appropriate. Penalties that may be imposed include a cease and desist order; an order to file reports, statements, or other documents required by law; and an order to pay a monetary penalty to the City. The maximum monetary penalty is the greater of $5,000 per violation or three times the amount of money at issue.

    All enforcement orders since 1993 can be accessed through our Public Data Portal.

WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAM

The City Charter requires the Ethics Commission to maintain a whistleblower program. Anyone may use the program to report suspected violations of the City’s governmental ethics, conflict of interests, campaign finance, and lobbying laws. Reports may be made anonymously, and City law prohibits retaliation for reporting possible violations.

All City departments and appointed offices are required by law to report to the Ethics Commission potential violations of the laws, as well as potential instances of fraud, waste, or abuse, within ten days after discovery.

REPORT A VIOLATION

For questions regarding specific scenarios, please contact us prior to taking action.

  • Report a Violation of Campaign, Contract, Ethics, or Lobbying Laws

    Call

    213-978-1999 or toll free at 1-800-824-4825.

    When you call the Whistleblower Hotline, you will hear a short message and have an opportunity to record your message. You do not have to identify yourself. All information you provide will be treated confidentially by the City Ethics Commission and will be reviewed.

    Fax

    Complete and fax this form to 213-978-1988.

    Walk In or Mail

    200 N. Spring Street, Suite 2410
    Los Angeles, California 90012

    Complete and submit this form.

    Online

    Complete and submit the form below.

    You may optionally leave your contact information below.

    The Ethics Commission has the authority to investigate violations of state and City laws regarding campaign financing, lobbying, and governmental ethics. Complaints regarding other laws are referred to appropriate agencies. This complaint form does not constitute a written request to commence a civil action under Los Angeles Municipal Code sections 49.5.19(B)(3) or 49.7.38(B)(3). If you have a question regarding whether your complaint is within our jurisdiction, please contact us.

    You may make your complaint anonymously. If you do give us your name, we will not release it unless we receive your permission, we refer the complaint to another appropriate agency, or we are ordered by a court to release it. You are protected against retaliation for blowing the whistle on your coworkers and superiors.

    Investigations can be complex and can take many months to complete. We do not confirm or deny the existence of any complaint or investigation, and we do not provide updates on the status of complaints. We will not contact you unless we need additional information.

    Please provide the information requested below. The more information you give, the more helpful your complaint will be. Thank you for taking the time to submit your complaint.

    If you choose to file your complaint under penalty of perjury, please use the PDF complaint form instead of this online complaint form.

  • Report Other Types of Violations

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

For questions regarding specific scenarios, please contact us prior to taking action.

  • I want to report a violation, but I want to remain anonymous. Can I do that?

    Yes. Anonymous complaints can be made through the whistleblower program

  • What is the status of the complaint that I filed through the whistleblower program?

    Because of the strict confidentiality that applies to the Ethics Commission’s investigations, status updates are not provided to whistleblowers or other members of the public. All final enforcement determinations, including settlements, are public information and may be searched through our Public Data Portal.

  • I reported a violation three years ago, and nothing ever happened. Why not?

    Every complaint is reviewed by the Ethics Commission staff. However, there are a variety of reasons that action taken regarding your complaint may not be public information. For example, investigations are strictly confidential, and information about an enforcement case does not become public until an accusation is issued, which occurs well into the enforcement process. In addition, the Ethics Commission has four years to initiate an enforcement action (longer if the respondent concealed or deceived), so it may be that the violation you reported will become a public case in the future. It may also be that what appeared to be a violation was not actually a violation or could not be substantiated, which means that no enforcement action was necessary or possible. Finally, if a violation did occur, it may have been resolved through education and mitigation or through the Audit Policy, without the need for enforcement action.

  • What kinds of cases does the Ethics Commission enforce?

    The Ethics Commission enforces against violations in all of its program areas. Every enforcement order that the Ethics Commission has imposed in the past 25 years can be accessed through our Public Data Portal .

  • I just discovered that someone may have violated one of your laws five years ago. Can I still file a complaint?

    Yes. The statute of limitations for an administrative enforcement action is four years from the date of the alleged violation. However, the statute is tolled for violations involving concealment or deceit. You are welcome to report a violation at any time, and the staff will be able to determine how the statute of limitations applies.

PUBLIC DATA PORTAL

RESOURCES
LA_CitySeal_2

© 2017. All rights reserved.

Share