According to the Washington State Executive Ethics Board Manual, an ethics law establishes minimum standards of conduct while performing public duties, and seeks to remove doubts concerning violations of public trust and confidence, the impairment of independent judgment, and favoritism in the performance of public duties that can be created by outside or personal interests.
RCW 42.52.900 tells us,"State officials and employees of government hold a public trust that obligates them, in a special way, to honesty and integrity in fulfilling responsibilities to which they are elected and appointed. Paramount in that trust is the principle that public office, whether elected or appointed, may not be used for personal gain or private advantage.”
· Objectivity - Public employees must place the public’s interest before any private interest or outside obligation – choices need to be made on the merits.
· Selflessness - Public employees should not make decisions in order to gain financial or other benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
· Stewardship - Public employees have a duty to conserve public resources and funds against misuse and abuse.
· Transparency - Public employees must practice open and accountable government. They should be as open as possible about their decisions and actions, while protecting truly confidential information.
· Integrity - Public employees should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organizations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
In Washington, we hold our state and public employees to high standards. Public employees are expected to abide by a number of ethics laws to ensure that the public trust is not violated. When ethics and/or campaign laws are broken, citizens can file complaints to stop the behavior.
Public employees must practice open and accountable government. They should be as open as possible about their decisions and actions, and protect truly confidential information.
•RCW 42.52.050, Confidential information
How comprehensive is your understanding of the Washington State Ethics Act? If you are interested, you can take the online training test: It's not easy, but taking the test will help readers develop a better understanding of our state ethics laws. http://ethics.wa.gov/TRAINING/quiz/popquiz.htm
Have a complaint you want to file? Complaint forms can be found here:
Please note that the majority of State and public employees are honest, hardworking employees that work hard to comply with state ethics laws.
But if you encounter a situation that appears to violate the State Ethics Act, but are afraid to file a complaint; complaint forms for the Washington State Executive Ethics Board provide a nondisclosure clause to protect identity if a complaintant believes that disclosure would endanger his or her life, physical safety or property.
Please see language below.
3. "Disclosure. Pursuant to RCW 42.17.310(1)(e), information revealing the identity of persons who file complaints with investigative agencies other than the public disclosure commission, may indicate a desire for disclosure or nondisclosure if the complainant believes that disclosure would endanger his or her life, physical safety or property. Please indicate your desire for disclosure or nondisclosure by checking the appropriate box and initialing.
£ I indicate a desire for nondisclosure because:
£ disclosure would endanger my life
£ disclosure would endanger my physical safety
£ disclosure would endanger my property Initials: ___________
Ultimately, citizens bear the responsibility for monitoring the behavior of elected officials, public officals and public employees.
Ethics Manual can be located at: http://www.leg.wa.gov/documents/leb/EthicsManual.pdf
Ethics for Washington Board members and commission members: http://www.governor.wa.gov/boards/EthicsPrinciples.pdf