Questions of Note include samplings of informal guidance inquiries received by Board of Ethics’ staff from City employees, officers, and other stakeholders.
1. Are employees of the Defender’s Association of Philadelphia subject to the City’s Ethics Rules?
- No. The Defender’s Association is not part of City government and therefore its employees are not subject to the City’s Ethics Rules.
2. How must a City employee, who files the City’s Statement of Financial Interest, report rental income from multiple tenants?
- The filer has two options. The first is to separately list each tenant from who the filer received more than $500 in rent. The filer would also need to list the amount paid by each tenant who paid more than $5,000 in rent. The second option is to list in the “person” field “five rental properties” and list the total combined amount from all five income sources in the previous year.
3. May a City employee represent criminal defendants in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas and Municipal Court?
- Not if the case is prosecuted by the Philadelphia’s District Attorney. Philadelphia Code Section 20-602(1)(a) prohibits a City employee from representing another person as an attorney, whether paid or unpaid, in any transaction involving the City. Transactions involving the City include any particular matters (1) that are or will be the subject of City action, (2) in which the City is a party, or (3) in which the City has a proprietary interest. A criminal prosecution brought by the District Attorney is a matter that is the subject of City action, whether through the District Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Probation and Parole, and the Prison System. It is also a matter in which the City has a proprietary interest. As such, Code Section 20-602(1)(a) prohibits a City officer or employee from representing defendants in such cases.
4. How must a filer report spousal support, alimony, and child support on both their City and State Statements of Financial Interest?
- Spousal support, alimony and child support a filer receives are considered income for the purposes of City and State Statements of Financial Interest and therefore must be reported if the amount received exceeds the reporting thresholds. That said, the filer would not need to disclose an payments that are court ordered as the State Ethics Commission would consider them to be within a statutory exception for government mandated benefits.
5. May a City Council employee serve as a committee person?
- Yes. A City Council employee is permitted to be a committee person, to run for that office, and to circulate nominating petitions. However, all such activities must be conducted off-duty and without using City resources or the employee’s City title. In addition, the Home Rule Charter would prohibit the employee from engaging in any fundraising related to these activities.
To receive guidance on the public integrity laws, please click the link above or email us at BOEGCStaff@phila.gov.