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I.  OVERVIEW OF POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE INTENT

This ethics policy prescribes standards of conduct for all Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) officers and employees (herein the term employee or its plural shall include both the singular and plural, and means both officers and employees).

It is the policy of this State that a state officer or state employee may not have a direct or indirect interest, including financial and other interests, or engage in a business transaction or professional activity, or incur any obligation of any nature that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of the officer's or employee's duties in the public interest.  Potential conflicts must be disclosed.

This policy, and the state law on which it is premised, provides standards of conduct and disclosure requirements to be observed by persons owing a responsibility to the people and government of this State in the performance of their official duties.

It is the intent of the legislature that the Ethics Law, Texas Government Code Chapter 572, serve not only as a guide for official conduct of those persons but also as a basis for discipline of those who refuse to abide by its terms.  It is also the intent of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s Board of Trustees that this policy serve as the implementation of the legislature’s goal set out in Texas Government Code § 572.001.  This policy shall, to the extent necessary, implement the requirements of Local Government Code Chpt. 176.

This ethics policy does not supersede any applicable federal or Texas law or administrative rule. Furthermore, whenever there is a conflict between the Ethics Law and this policy, the Ethics Law shall take precedence.  Whenever a conflict exists between the Ethics Law or this policy and Chapter 176 of the Local Government Code, the Ethics Law and/or this policy shall take precedence.

All TSBVI employees and officers must familiarize themselves with all TSBVI ethics policies.

All TSBVI employees must abide by all applicable federal and Texas laws, administrative rules, and TSBVI conduct policies, including this ethics policy.  A TSBVI employee who violates any provision of the TSBVI’s conduct policies is subject to termination of the employee’s state employment or another employment-related sanction.  A TSBVI employee who violates any applicable federal or Texas law or rule may be subject to civil or criminal penalties in addition to any employment-related sanction.  It is the intent of the TSBVI Board of Trustees that this policy shall serve as the written ethics policy required by Texas Government Code § 572.051(c)(1).

TSBVI shall distribute a copy of this ethics policy and a copy of Texas Government Code Chpt. 572 (Ethics Law) to:

  1. each new employee not later than the third business day after the date the person begins employment with the agency; and
  2. each new officer not later than the third business day after the date the person qualifies for office.

II.  DEFINITIONS

  1. “Ethics law” shall mean the law found in Chapter 572 of the Texas Government Code.
  2. The term “officer” means an officer of a state agency who is appointed for a term of office specified by the statute of this state and specifically includes the members of the Board of Trustees appointed to serve in such capacity pursuant to Texas Education Code § 30.002(a).  Herein the term employee shall include the term “officer.”  Gov't Code § 572.002
  3. The term “officer” also means the director, executive director,  administrator,  or other individual who is appointed by the governing body or highest officer of the state agency to act as the chief executive or administrative officer of the agency and who is not an appointed officer and specifically includes the Superintendent (Executive Head) of the TSBVI.   Gov't Code § 572.002(5)
  4. The term “dependent child” includes an adopted child or stepchild when the parent provides more than 50 percent of the child’s support during a calendar year. Gov’t Code 572.006

III.  STANDARDS OF CONDUCT:  ETHICS POLICY

A.  Requirements of officers and employees.

A TSBVI officer or employee shall not:

  1. accept or solicit any gift, favor, or service that might reasonably tend to influence the employee in the discharge of official duties, or that the employee knows or should know is being offered with the intent to influence the employee’s official conduct;
  2. intentionally or knowingly solicit, accept, or agree to accept any benefit for having exercised his or her official powers or performed his or her official duties in favor of another;
  3. disclose confidential information, information that is excepted from public disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act (Gov’t Code ch. 552), or information that has been ordered sealed by a court, that was acquired by reason of the employee’s official position, or accept other employment, including self-employment, or engage in a business, charity, nonprofit organization, or professional activity that the employee might reasonably expect would require or induce the employee to disclose confidential information, information that is excepted from public disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act, or information that has been ordered sealed by a court, that was acquired by reason of the employee’s official position;
  4. accept other employment, including self-employment, or compensation or engage in a business, charity, nonprofit organization, or professional activity that could reasonably be expected to impair the employee’s independence of judgment in the performance of the employee’s official duties;
  5. make personal investments, or have a personal or financial interest, that could reasonably be expected to create a substantial conflict between the employee’s private interest and the public interest;
  6. utilize state time, property, facilities, or equipment for any purpose other than official state business, unless such use is reasonable and incidental and does not result in any direct cost to the State or TSBVI, interfere with the employee’s official duties, and interfere with TSBVI functions;
  7. utilize his or her official position, or state issued items, such as a badge, indicating such position for financial gain, obtaining privileges, or avoiding consequences of illegal acts;
  8. knowingly make misleading statements, either oral or written, or provide false information, in the course of official state business; or
  9. engage in any political activity while on state time or utilize state resources for any political activity.
  10. accept employment (if the officer or employee participated in a procurement or contract negotiation) before the second anniversary of the date the contract is signed or the procurement is terminated or withdrawn. Gov’t Code 572.069

B.  A TSBVI employee shall:

  1. perform his or her official duties in a lawful, professional, and ethical manner befitting the state and TSBVI; and
  2. report any conduct or activity that the employee believes to be in violation of this ethics policy to the Superintendent or designee.

C.  To the extent that there is no conflict with the provisions of this policy or the Ethics Law, TSBVI employees who are “local government officers” shall also be governed by the provisions of Texas Local Government Code chapter 176.  Whenever a conflict arises between either this policy or the Ethics Law and Local Government Code chapter 176, the Ethics Law and/or this policy shall govern.

To the extent, if any, the Local Government Code applies to TSBVI and its Board and Officers, the phrase “Local Government Officer” means:

  1. a member of the governing body of a governmental entity;
  2. a director, superintendent, administrator, president, or other person designated as the executive officer of a governmental entity; or
  3. an agent of a governmental entity who exercises discretion in the planning, recommending, selecting, or contracting of a vendor.

Local Gov't Code. § 176.001

SUBSTANTIAL INTEREST AFFIDAVIT

If a public official (TSBVI board trustee or Superintendent) has a substantial interest in a business entity or in real property, the public official shall, before a vote or decision on any matter involving the business entity or the real property, file an affidavit stating the nature and extent of the interest if:

  1. In the case of a substantial interest in a business entity, the action on the matter will have a special economic effect on the business entity that is distinguishable from the effect on the public; or
  2. In the case of a substantial interest in real property, it is reasonably foreseeable that an action on the matter will have a special economic effect on the value of the property, distinguishable from its effect on the public.

The affidavit shall be filed with the Texas Ethics Commission https://www.ethics.state.tx.us/.

Local Gov’t Code 171.004(a)–(b); Gov’t Code Chapt. 572

Abstention

The public official shall also abstain from further participation in the matter.

All TSBVI trustees are required to file affidavits.  Trustees shall not be required to abstain from further participation in the matter or matters requiring such an affidavit if a majority of the trustees file affidavits of similar interests on the same official action.

Local Gov’t Code 171.004(a), (c); Gov’t Code Chapt. 572

Definitions

“Substantial Interest”

A person has a substantial interest in a business entity if any of the following is the case.  The person:

  1. owns more than ten percent of the voting stock or shares of the business entity;
  2. owns more than $25,000 of the fair market value of the business entity;
  3. has a controlling interest in the business entity;
  4. has a direct or indirect participating interest by shares, stock, or otherwise, regardless of whether voting rights are included, in more than 10 percent of the profits, proceeds or capital gains of the business entity;
  5. is a member of the board of directors or governing board of the business entity;
  6. serves as an elected officer of the business entity; or
  7. is an employee of the business entity.

Gov’t Code 572.005

“Business Entity”

“Business entity” means a sole proprietorship, partnership, firm, corporation, holding company, joint-stock company, receivership, trust, or any other entity recognized by law operating for profit. Government Code 572.002(2)

“First-Degree Relatives”

The public official is considered to have a substantial interest if a person related in the first degree by either affinity or consanguinity to the public official, as determined under Government Code Chapter 573, Subchapter B [see DBE EXHIBIT], has a substantial interest as defined above.  Local Gov’t Code 171.002

“Public Official”

“Public official” means a member of the governing body or another officer, whether elected, appointed, paid, or unpaid, of any district (including TSBVI), central appraisal district, or other local governmental entity who exercises responsibilities beyond those that are advisory in nature.  Local Gov’t Code 171.001(1)

“Real Property”

A person has a substantial interest in real property if the interest is an equitable or legal ownership with a fair market value of $2,500 or more. Local Gov’t Code 171.002

Contracts Permitted

The Board may contract with a business entity in which a trustee has a substantial interest if the trustee follows the disclosure and abstention procedure set out above. Atty. Gen. Op. JM-424 (1986)

Separate Vote on Budget

The Board shall take a separate vote on any budget item specifically dedicated to a contract with a business entity in which a trustee has a substantial interest.  The affected trustee shall not participate in that separate vote, but may vote on a final budget if he or she filed the affidavit and the matter in which he or she is concerned has been resolved.  Local Gov’t Code 171.005

Depository Bank

A TSBVI board member with a “substantial interest” in a depository bank must file an affidavit stating his interest and must abstain from participating in decisions on loan contracts with the depository if action on the matter will have a special economic effect on the bank that is distinguishable from the effect on the public. Atty. Gen. Op. JM-1082 (1989) [See BDAE]

Violations

A public official commits an offense if the official knowingly:

  1. Violates Local Government Code 171.004.
  2. Acts as surety for a business entity that has a contract, work, or business with TSBVI.
  3. Acts as surety on any official bond required of an officer of TSBVI.

Local Gov’t Code 171.003

Voidable Actions

The finding by a court of a violation of Local Government Code Chapter 171 does not render an action of the Board voidable unless the measure that was the subject of an action involving a conflict of interest would not have passed without the vote of the person who violated the chapter. Local Gov’t Code 171.006

CONFLICTS DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

A government officer shall file a conflicts disclosure statement, as adopted by the Texas Ethics Commission, with respect to a vendor if the vendor enters into a contract with TSBVI or the School is considering entering into a contract with the vendor; and the vendor:

Business Relationship

  1. Has an employment or other business relationship with the government officer or a family member of the officer, and the business relationship results in the officer or family member receiving taxable income, other than investment income, that exceeds $2,500 during the 12-month period preceding the date that the officer becomes aware that:
    1. A contract between TSBVI and the vendor has been executed; or
    2. TSBVI is considering entering into a contract with the vendor;
  2. Has given to the government officer or a family member of the officer one or more gifts, and the gift or gifts have an aggregate value of more than $100 in the 12-month period preceding the date the officer becomes aware that:
    1. A contract between TSBVI and the vendor has been executed; or
    2. TSBVI is considering entering into a contract with the vendor; or
  3. Has a family relationship with the government officer.

Gifts—Exception

A government officer is not required to file a conflicts disclosure statement in relation to a gift, as defined by law, accepted by the officer or a family member of the officer if the gift is:

  1. A political contribution as defined by Title 15, Election Code; or
  2. Food accepted as a guest.      

Local Gov’t Code 176.003(a)–(a-1)

Filing Date

A government officer shall file the conflicts disclosure statement with the records administrator of TSBVI not later than 5:00 p.m. on the seventh business day after the date on which the officer becomes aware of the facts that require the filing of the statement.  Local Gov’t Code 176.003(b)

Vendor Questionnaire

A person who is both a government officer and a vendor of a governmental entity is required to file a vendor questionnaire if the person enters or seeks to enter into a contract with TSBVI; or is an agent of a person who enters or seeks to enter into a contract with TSBVI.  [See CHE] Local Gov’t Code 176.006(e)

Definitions

“Agent”

“Agent” means a third party who undertakes to transact some business or manage some affair for another person by the authority or on account of the other person. The term includes an employee. Local Gov’t Code 176.001(1)

“Business Relationship”

“Business relationship” means a connection between two or more parties based on commercial activity of one of the parties. The term does not include a connection based on:

  1. A transaction that is subject to rate or fee regulation by a federal, state, or local governmental entity or an agency of a federal, state, or local governmental entity;
  2. A transaction conducted at a price and subject to terms available to the public; or
  3. A purchase or lease of goods or services from a person that is chartered by a state or federal agency and that is subject to regular examination by, and reporting to, that agency.

Local Gov’t Code 176.001(a-1)

“Family Member”

“Family member” means a person related to another person within the first degree by consanguinity or affinity, as described by Government Code Chapter 573, Subchapter B. [See DBE] Local Gov’t Code 176.001(2)

“Family Relationship”

“Family relationship” means a relationship between a person and another person within the third degree by consanguinity or the second degree by affinity, as those terms are defined by Government Code Chapter 573, Subchapter B. [See DBE] Local Gov’t Code 176.001(2-a)

“Gift”

“Gift” means a benefit offered by a person, including food, lodging, transportation, and entertainment accepted as a guest.  The term does not include a benefit offered on account of kinship or a personal, professional, or business relationship independent of the official status of the recipient. Local Gov’t Code 176.001(2-b)  [See also prohibition of gifts to public servants, Penal Code 36.08-.10]

“Investment Income”

 “Investment income” means dividends, capital gains, or interest income generated from:

  1. A personal or business:
    1. Checking or savings account,
    2. Share draft or share account, or
    3. Other similar account;
  2. A personal or business investment; or
  3. A personal or business loan.

Local Gov’t Code 176.001(2-d)

“Local Government Officer”

“Local government officer” means a member of the Board, the Superintendent, or an agent (including an employee) of the School; who exercises discretion in the planning, recommending, selecting, or contracting of a vendor.  Local Gov’t Code 176.001(4)

“Public Servant”— Government Code

 “Public servant” means a person who is appointed, employed, or designated, even if not yet qualified for or having assumed the duties of office, as:

  1. A candidate for nomination to public office, or
  2. An officer of government.

Gov’t Code 553.001

“Records Administrator”

“Records administrator” means the director, superintendent, or other person responsible for maintaining the records of TSBVI or another person designated by TSBVI to maintain statements and questionnaires filed under Local Government Code 176 and perform related functions. Local Gov’t Code 176.001(5)  [See CPC]

“Vendor”

“Vendor” means a person who enters or seeks to enter into a contract with a local governmental entity. The term includes an agent of a vendor.  The term includes an officer or employee of a state agency when that individual is acting in a private capacity to enter into a contract. The term does not include a state agency except for Texas Correctional Industries. Local Gov’t Code 176.001(7)

Duties of Records Administrator

The records administrator shall:

  1. Maintain a list of government officers of TSBVI and shall make that list available to the public and any vendor who may be required to file a conflict of interest questionnaire under Local Government Code 176.006; and
  2. Maintain the statements and questionnaires that are required to be filed under Government Code Chapter 176 in accordance with the School’s records retention schedule. [See CPC]

Local Gov’t Code 176.0065

Violations

 A government officer commits an offense if the officer is required to file a conflicts disclosure statement and knowingly fails to file the required conflicts disclosure statement with the appropriate records administrator not later than 5 p.m. on the seventh business day after the date on which the officer becomes aware of the facts that require the filing of the statement.  It is an exception to the application of the penalty that the government officer filed the required conflicts disclosure statement not later than the seventh business day after receiving notice of the alleged violation.

The Board may reprimand, suspend, or terminate the employment of an employee who knowingly fails to comply with a requirement adopted under Local Government Code 176. [See DF series]

The Board may, at its discretion, declare a contract void if the Board determines that a vendor failed to file a conflict of interest questionnaire required by Local Government Code 176.006.

Local Gov’t Code 176.013

Violations

A public servant who fails to file the affidavit when required is presumed to have the intent to commit an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor. Gov’t Code 553.003

ANNUAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT REPORT

TSBVI’s annual financial management report shall include summary reports of reimbursement received by each board member, reports of certain gifts from school vendors, and reports of board member business transactions with TSBVI.  [See CFA]  Education Code 39.083; 19 TAC 109.1001(o)

TRUSTEE FINANCIAL STATEMENT

The commissioner of education (“commissioner”) by order shall require the members of a board to file the financial statement required of state officers under Subchapter B, Chapter 572, Government Code, if the commissioner determines that:

  1. A board member has failed to comply with filing and recusal requirements applicable to the member under Chapter 171, Local Government Code;
  2. TSBVI financial accounting practices are not adequate to safeguard state and other funds; or
  3. TSBVI has not met a standard set by the commissioner in the financial accountability rating system.

The commissioner may require the filing of financial statements covering not more than three fiscal years and beginning on January 1 of the second year following the date of the commissioner’s order.  A member of a board subject to an order issued by the commissioner is not required to include, in a financial disclosure statement, financial activity occurring before January 1 of the year following the year in which the order is issued.  The commissioner may renew the requirement if the commissioner determines that a condition described above continues to exist.

Education Code 11.064

Electronic Filing Required

A financial statement filed with the Ethics Commission must be filed by computer diskette, modem, or other means of electronic transfer, using computer software provided by the commission or computer software that meets commission specifications for a standard file format.  An individual who was appointed to office may file the financial statement by certified mail in compliance with Government Code 572.029. Gov’t Code 572.0291

Confidentiality

Electronic report or financial statement data saved in an Ethics Commission temporary storage location for later retrieval and editing before the report or financial statement is filed is confidential and may not be disclosed.  After the report or financial statement is filed with the Ethics Commission, the information disclosed in the filed report or financial statement is public information to the extent provided by the law requiring the filing of the report or financial statement. Gov’t Code 571.0671(d)

Violations

A TSBVI Board trustee that is subject to an order issued by the commissioner commits an offense if the trustee fails to file the statement required by the order.  An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor. Education Code 11.064(c)

Note:   See also CBB for conflict of interest requirements when federal funds are involved.

PRIVATE CORPORATION

It is lawful for a local public official to serve as a member of the board of directors of private, nonprofit corporations when such officials receive no compensation or other remuneration from the non- profit corporation or other nonprofit entity.  Local Gov’t Code 171.009

AFFIDAVIT DISCLOSING INTEREST IN REAL PROPERTY

If a public servant has a legal or equitable interest in any property that is to be acquired with public funds, and has actual notice of the acquisition or intended acquisition of the property, the public servant shall file an affidavit as follows:

  1. The affidavit shall be filed with the county clerks of the county or counties in which the property is located and of the county in which the public servant resides within ten days before the date on which the property is to be acquired by purchase or condemnation.
  2. The affidavit must:
    1. State the name of the public servant and the public office title of job designation held or sought.
    2. Fully describe the property.
    3. Fully describe the nature, type, and amount of interest in the property, including the percentage of ownership interest and the date the interest was acquired.
    4. Include a verification of the truth of the information in the affidavit. 
    5. Include an acknowledgement of the same type required for recording a deed in the deed records of a county.
    6. File the affidavit with the county clerk of each county in which the property is located.

Gov’t Code 553.002

Violations:  Criminal Penalty; Presumption

A public servant who fails to file the affidavit when required is presumed to have the intent to commit an offense.  An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.  Gov’t Code 553.003

TRUSTEE/PUBLIC OFFICIAL (SUPT) FINANCIAL STATEMENT

  1. Not later than April 30 each year, a member of the School’s Board of Trustees as a state officer shall file the financial statement as required by Government Code Chapter 572, Subchapter B:  Personal Financial Statement.
  2. An individual who is appointed or employed as the executive head of a state agency (i.e. TSBVI’s Superintendent) shall file a financial statement not later than the 45th day after the date on which the Superintendent assumes the duties of the position.  A state agency shall immediately notify the ethics commission of the appointment or employment of an executive head of the agency.
  3. An individual state officer required to file a financial statement may request the Texas Ethics Commission to grant an extension of not more than 60 days for filing the statement.  The commission shall grant the request if it is received before the filing deadline or if the timely filing or request for extension is prevented because of physical or mental incapacity.  The commission may not grant more than one extension to an individual in one year except for good cause shown.

Gov’t Code 572.026

Exceptions from Filing of a Verified Financial Statement

 Officers and covered employees of TSBVI are exempt from filing the required verified financial statement under the following circumstances:

  1. An officer who resigns from office and who ceases to participate in the state agency’s (TSBVI’s) functions is not required to file a financial statement that is due because of service in that office after the date of resignation.
  2. An officer whose term of office expires and who ceases to participate in the functions of the state agency (TSBVI) is not required to file a financial statement that is due because of service in that office after the date the term of office expires.
  3. An officer of a state agency that is abolished or whose functions are transferred to another state agency is not required to file a financial statement that is due because of service after the date that the agency is abolished or the functions of the agency are transferred.
  4. An officer who resigns or whose term of office expires who does not intend to participate in the functions of the state agency (TSBVI) shall deliver written notice of the officer’s intention to the governor and the ethics commission.

Gov’t Code 572.0211

Required Components (effective through 1-7-2019)

  1. A financial statement must include an account of the financial activity of the individual required to file a financial statement and an account of the financial activity of the individual’s spouse and dependent children if the individual had actual control over that activity for the preceding calendar year.
  2. The account of financial activity consists of:
    1. a list of all sources of occupational income, identified by employer, or if self-employed, by the nature of the occupation, including identification of a person or other organization from which the individual or a business in which the individual had a substantial interest received a fee as a retainer for a claim on future services in case of need, as distinguished from a fee for services on a matter specified at the time of contracting for or receiving the fee, if professional or occupational services are not actually performed during the reporting period equal to or in excess of the amount of the retainer, and the category of the amount of the fee;
    2. identification by name and the category of the number of shares of stock of any business entity held or acquired, and if sold, the category of the amount of net gain or loss realized from the sale;
    3. a list of all bonds, notes, and other commercial paper held or acquired, and if sold, the category of the amount of net gain or loss realized from the sale;
    4. identification of each source and the category of the amount of income in excess of $500 derived from each source from interest, dividends, royalties, and rents;
    5. identification of each guarantor or a loan and identification of each person or financial institution to whom a person note or notes or lease agreement for a total financial liability in excess of $1,000 existed at any time during the year and the category of the amount of the liability;
    6. identification by description of all beneficial interests in real property and business entities held or acquired, and if sold, the category of the amount of the net gain or loss realized from the sale;
    7. identification of a person or other organization from which the individual or the individual’s spouse or dependent children received a gift of anything of value in excess of $250 and a description of each gift, except:
      1. a gift received from an individual related to the individual at any time within the second degree by consanguinity or affinity, as determined under Government Code Subchapter B, Chapter 573;
      2. a political contribution that was reported as required by Chapter 254, Election Code; and
      3. an expenditure required to be reported by a person required to be registered under Government Code Chapter 305;
    8. identification of the source and the category of the amount of all income received as beneficiary of a trust, other than a blind trust that complies with Subsection (c), and identification of each trust asset, if known to the beneficiary, from which income was received by the beneficiary in excess of $500;
    9. (effective 1-8-2019) identification:
      1. by description of a corporation, firm, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, professional corporation, professional association, joint venture, or other business association in which five percent or more of the outstanding ownership was held, acquired, or sold; and
      2. identification by description and the category of the amount of all assets and liabilities of a corporation, firm, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, professional corporation, professional association, joint venture, or other business association in which 50 percent or more of the outstanding ownership was held, acquired, or sold;
    10. a list of all boards of directors of which the individual is a member and executive positions that the individual holds in corporations, firms, partnerships, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, professional corporation, professional association, joint venture, or other business associations or proprietorships, stating the name of each corporation, firm, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, professional corporation, professional association, joint venture, or other business associations or proprietorship and the position held.
    11. identification of any person providing transportation, meals, or lodging expenses permitted under Section 36.07(b), Penal Code, and the amount of those expenses, other than expenditures required to be reported under Chapter 305;
    12. any corporation, firm, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, professional corporation, professional association, joint venture, or other business association, excluding a publicly held corporation, in which both the individual and a person registered under Chapter 305 have an interest;
    13. identification by name and the category of the number of shares of any mutual fund held or acquired, and if sold, the category of the amount of net gain or loss realized from the sale; and
    14. identification of each blind trust that complies with Subsection (c), including;
      1. the category of the fair market value of the trust;
      2. the date the trust was created;
      3. the name and address of the trustee; and
      4. a statement signed by the trustee, under penalty of perjury, stating that:
        1. the trustee has not revealed any information to the individual, except information that may be disclosed under Subdivision (8); and
        2. to the best of the trustee’s knowledge, the trust complies with this section.
  3. (effective 1-8-2019) if the aggregate cost of goods or services sold under one or more written contracts described by this subdivision exceeds $10,000 in the year covered by the report, identification of each written contracts, including the name of each party to the contract:
    1. for the sale of goods or services in the amount of $2,500 or more;
    2. to which the individual, the individual’s spouse, the individual’s dependent child, or any business entity of which the individual, the individuals’ spouse, or the individual’s dependent child, independently or in conjunction with one or more persons described by this subsection, has at least a 50 percent ownership interest is a party; and
    3. with:
      1. a governmental entity; or
      2. a person who contracts with a governmental entity, if the individual or entity described by Paragraph (B) performs work arising out of the contract, subcontract, or agreement between the person and the governmental entity for a fee; and
        1. if the individual is a member of the legislature and provides bond counsel services to an issuer, as defined by Section 1201.002(1), identification of the following for each issuance for which the individual served as bond counsel:
    4. the amount of the issuance;
    5. the name of the issuer;
    6. the date of the issuance
    7. the amount of fees paid to the individual, and whether the amount is:
      1. less than $5,000;
      2. at least $5,000 but less than $10,000;
      3. at least $10,000 but less than $25,000; or
      4. $25,000 or more; and
    8. the amount of fees paid to the individual’s firm, if applicable, and whether the amount is:
      1. less than $5,000;
      2. at least $5,000 but less than $10,000;
      3. at least $10,000 but less than $25,000; or
      4. $25,000 or more.
  4. For purposes of Subsections (b)(8) and (14), a blind trust is a trust as to which:
    1. the trustee:
      1. is a disinterested party;
      2. is not the individual;
      3. is not required to register as a lobbyist under Chapter 305;
      4. is not a public officer or public employee; and
      5. was not appointed to public office by the individual or by a public officer or public employee the individual supervises; and
    2. the trustee has complete discretion to manage the trust, including the power to dispose of and acquire trust assets without consulting or notifying the individual.
  5. If a blind trust under Subsection (c) is revoked while the individual is subject to this subchapter, the individual must file an amendment to the individual’s most recent financial statement, disclosing the date of revocation and the previously unreported value by category of each asset and the income derived from each asset.
  6. (effective 1-8-2019) In this section, “governmental entity” means this state, a political subdivision of the state, or an agency or department of the state or a political subdivision of the state.
  7. (effective 1-8-2019) Subsection (b)(15) does not require the disclosure of an employment contract between a school district and an employee of the district or school.
  8. (effective 1-8-2019) An individual who complies with any applicable requirements of Sections 51.954 and 51.955, Education Code and Section 2252.908 of this code, in an individual capacity or as a member or employee of an entity to which those sections apply, is not required to include in the account of financial activity the information described by Subsection (b)(15) unless specifically requested by the ethics commission to include the information.

Gov’t Code 572.023

Reporting Amount Requirements

  1. If an amount in a financial statement is required to be reported by category, the individual filing the statement shall report whether the amount is:
    1. less than $5,000;
    2. at least $5,000 but less than $10,000;
    3. at least $10,000 but less than $25,000; or
    4. $25,000 or more.
  2. The individual filing the statement shall report an amount by stock by category of number of shares instead of by category of dollar value and shall report whether the amount is:
    1. less than 100 shares;
    2. at least 100 but less than 500 shares;
    3. at least 500 but less than 1,000 shares;
    4. At least 1,000 but less than 5,000 shares;
    5. at least 5,000 but less than 10,000 shares;
    6. 10,000 shares or more.
  3. The individual filing the statement shall report a description of real property by reporting;
    1. the street address, if available, or the number of lots or number of acres, as applicable, in each county and the name of the county if the street address is not available; and
    2. the names of all persons retaining an interest in the property, excluding an interest that is a severed mineral interest.
  4. For a gift of cash or a cash equivalent such as a negotiable instrument or gift certificate that is reported in accordance with Subsection 572.023(b)(7), the individual filing the statement shall include in the description of the gift a statement of the value of the gift.

Gov’t Code 572.022

Note:   See also CBB for requirements when federal funds are involved.

Timeliness of Filing

The deadline for filing the required financial statement is 5:00 p.m. of the last day designated in the applicable provision for filing the statement.  If the last day for filing the statement is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday included under Subchapter B, Chapter 662 of Texas Government Code, the statement is timely if filed on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or listed holiday.  Gov’t. Code 572.029

AMENDMENT OF FINANCIAL STATEMENT (EFFECTIVE 1-8-2019)

  1. A person who files a financial statement may amend the person’s statement.
  2. A financial statement that is amended is considered to have been filed on the date on which the original statement was filed if:
    1. the amendment is made on or before the 14th day after the date the person filing the statement learns of an error or omission in the original statement;
    2. the original financial statement was made in good faith and without an intent to mislead or to misrepresent the information contained in the statement; and
    3. the person filing the amendment accompanies the amendment with a declaration that:
      1. the person became aware of the error or omission in the original statement during the preceding 14 days; and
      2. the original statement was made in good faith and without intent to mislead or to misrepresent the information contained in the statement.

Sec.572.0295

PARTICIPATION PROHIBITION: PERSONAL OR PRIVATE INTEREST

A Board member who has a personal or private interest in a measure, proposal, or decision pending before the Board shall publicly disclose the fact to the Board in a meeting called and held in compliance with Chapter 551. The Board member may not vote, or otherwise participate in the decision. The disclosure shall be entered in the minutes of the meeting.

A Board member who violates this provision is subject to removal from the Board on the petition of the Attorney General, on the Attorney General’s own initiative, or on the relation of a resident, or of any other member of the Board.

Personal, or private interest, has the same meaning as is given to it under Article III, Section 22, of the Texas Constitution.  For purposes of this section, an individual does not have a “personal or private interest” in a measure, proposal, or decision if the individual is engaged in a profession, trade, or occupation, and the individual’s interest is the same as all others similarly engaged in the profession, trade, or occupation.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

It is the policy of this State that a state officer, Board member or state employee may not have direct or indirect interest, including financial and other interests, or engage in a business transaction or professional activity, or incur any obligation of any nature that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of the officer’s or employee’s duties in the public interest.

Gov’t Code 572.058

CONTRACTS WITH GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES

A Board member may not solicit, or accept, from a governmental entity, a commission, fee, bonus, retainer, or rebate that is compensation for the Board member’s personal solicitation for the award of a contract for services, or sale of goods to a governmental entity, except when the contract is awarded by competitive bid as provided by law, and is not otherwise prohibited by law. Violation of this prohibition is a Class A misdemeanor.

Gov’t Code 572.056

OTHER CONFLICT BRIBERY

Prescribed activities are covered by, but are not limited to, the following:

A Trustee shall not intentionally, or knowingly offer, confer, agree to confer, solicit, accept, or agree to accept a benefit:

  1. As consideration for the Trustee’s decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercise of discretion as a Trustee;
  2. As consideration for a violation of a duty imposed on the Trustee by law; or
  3. That is an expenditure made and reported as a lobbying expense in accordance with Gov’t Code, Ch. 305, if the benefit was offered, conferred, solicited, accepted, or agreed to pursuant to an express agreement to take, or withhold, a specific exercise of official discretion, if such exercise of official discretion would not have been taken, or withheld, but for the benefit.

BENEFIT

“Benefit” means anything reasonably regarded as pecuniary gain, or pecuniary advantage, including benefit to any other person in whose welfare the Trustee has a direct and substantial interest.

ABUSE OF OFFICE

A Trustee shall not, with intent to obtain a benefit, or with intent to harm or defraud another, intentionally, or knowingly, violate a law relating to the office, or misuse School property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value belonging to the School that has come into his/her custody by virtue of his/her office.  Penal Code 39.01(a)

“Law relating to the office” means a law that specifically applies to a person acting in the capacity of a public servant and that directly, or indirectly, imposes a duty on the public servant, or governs the conduct of the public servant.  Penal Code 39.01(1)

INCOMPATIBILITY OF OFFICE

One person may not occupy two legally incompatible offices.  Offices are legally incompatible when the faithful and independent exercise of one would necessarily interfere with the faithful and independent exercise of the other.  A person may not serve in one branch of government while exercising any powers properly attached to either of the other branches of government. Texas Constitution, Art. II, Sec. 1; State v. Martin, 51 S.W.2d 815 (Tex. Civ. App., 1932) Thomas V. Abernathy County Line ISD, 290 S.W. 15 (Tex. Comm. App. 1927); Turner v. Trinity ISD, 700 S.W.2d 1 (Tex. Ct. App., 1983); Atty. Gen. Op. JM-634 (1987)

TEXTBOOKS

A Trustee commits a class B misdemeanor offense if the Trustee receives any commission, or rebate, of any textbooks used in the schools with which the Trustee is associated. Education Code 31.152, 30.022(d)

GIFTS

Trustees who exercise discretion in connection with contracts, purchases, payments, claims, or other pecuniary transactions shall not solicit, accept, or agree to accept any benefit from a person the Trustee knows, is interested in, or like to become interested in, any such transactions of the School. Penal Code 36.08(d)

NEPOTISM

No person shall be employed in the School who is related to a member of the Board by blood (consanguinity) within the third degree, or by marriage (affinity) within the second degree. Gov’t Code, Ch. 573, Subch. B [See DBE]

The Board shall not hire as an independent contractor for personal services an individual who is related to a Trustee within a prohibited degree. Atty. Gen. Op. DM-76(1992)

Adopted:         5/8/81

Amended:       6/29/84, 1/14/88, 1/26/90, 11/30/90, 3/27/92, 11/13/92, 1/20/95, 1/24/97, 11/6/98, 11/22/02, 9/22/06, 9/20/13, 9/30/16, 8/9/18

Reviewed: