Not-for-profit organizations affiliated with elected officials or the agents of elected officials
Legal defense trusts with at least one public servant as a beneficiary and the trustees and beneficiaries of such trusts
Anyone can make a complaint.
Complaints can be made anonymously.
Complaints must be made in writing; to file a complaint, click here.
Investigations into potential violations are conducted for the Board by the New York City Department of Investigation.
A private warning letter is a confidential letter in which the Board provides unsolicited advice to a public servant who may have violated the conflicts of interest law.
The Board may send a private warning letter for a variety of reasons, including when:
There is insufficient evidence to support an enforcement action
The available evidence suggests that the violation is minor
An enforcement action would be based on a new or untested interpretation of the law
The public servant’s City agency has already imposed a significant disciplinary penalty for the conduct
The Board begins an enforcement action by sending a Notice of Initial Determination of Probable Cause to the individual or organization that the Board believes likely committed a violation. That individual or organization is called the “respondent.”
The respondent may be represented by an attorney or some other representative.
The respondent has twenty days to respond in writing to the Notice unless the respondent asks for more time.
The Board’s procedural rules for enforcement actions are available here.
Click on a heading below, or press the enter key on a heading, to learn more.
The respondent may resolve the enforcement action by settlement agreement, either a public disposition or a public warning letter.
In most cases, the Board will offer to settle with a public disposition, which must include an admission of the relevant facts, an acknowledgment of the violation, and a penalty that addresses the conduct.
This penalty usually involves paying a fine to the Board. In deciding the appropriate fine amount, the Board considers various factors, including:
The fine or other penalty imposed in prior cases involving similar conduct
Any agency-imposed disciplinary penalty for the same conduct
Whether the respondent is still a City employee
The respondent’s City position, such as whether the respondent is an attorney or a high-level employee
The impact of the respondent’s conduct
Under limited circumstances, the Board may offer to settle with a public warning letter, which does not include a penalty but must include a statement of relevant facts and a description of each violation. These circumstances could include a relatively limited violation or that the respondent acted quickly to report and remedy the violation.
Prior settlement agreements and their summaries are available here.
If, after reviewing the respondent’s written response, the Board still believes it is likely that the respondent committed a violation and settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to a hearing at the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (“OATH”) where the Board’s enforcement attorney and the respondent will have the opportunity to present evidence. OATH’s procedural rules are available here.
After the hearing, the OATH Administrative Law Judge will issue a confidential, non-binding Report and Recommendation.
Each party will have the opportunity to submit a comment to the Board and a response to the opposing party’s comment about the OATH Report and Recommendation.
The Board will make a final decision about whether the respondent committed a violation based in its review of the OATH Report and Recommendation, the evidence from the hearing, and any comments and responses to comments.
If the Board decides a violation occurred, it issues an order stating its findings of fact and conclusions of law and, if appropriate, imposing a penalty. The order is a public document and typically includes a copy of the OATH Report and Recommendation.
If the Board decides no violations occurred, it sends the respondent a confidential written decision that dismisses the enforcement action.
The Board can impose civil fines of up to $25,000 per violation.
The Board can order a respondent to pay to the City any financial gain obtained as a result of his or her violation.
The Board can join settlements with a respondent and the respondent’s employing City agency in which the agency imposes other penalties, including loss of City employment, suspension, and the forfeiture of annual leave.