The Philadelphia Board of Ethics traces its roots back to 1962. In 1962, City Council enacted the Ethics Code in response to the recommendations of the Fordham Report.
From 1962 to 2004, the volunteer board had limited powers and responsibilities. The board members knew the legislative process of forming an independent board would take time. As they supported that process, they also built a foundation for a robust ethics program.
Mayor John F. Street reconstituted the Board of Ethics with executive order 1-04 on August 12, 2004. The executive order gave the board clear responsibilities. It also authorized the board to hire staff to help the board carry out its duties.
In September 2005, the board launched a City-wide ethics training program. This program ensured that City officials and employees understood the ethics rules that applied to their conduct. The program had provided ethics training to a large majority of the City’s workforce by the end of 2006.
The board facilitated the distribution of the Philadelphia Ethics Code to every City official and employee in July 2006. They rendered advisory opinions to those seeking guidance on the ethics rules. They also reviewed conduct that had an appearance of impropriety.
In May 2006, Philadelphia voters approved an amendment to the Charter authorizing the creation of a newly independent Board of Ethics. The new Board of Ethics was installed on November 27, 2006. The work of previous boards allowed for a seamless transition. The current board:
- Provides ethics training for all City employees.
- Enforces city campaign finance, financial disclosure, lobbying, and other public integrity laws.
- Renders advice.
- Investigates complaints.
- Issues fines.