By CBS Baltimore Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For the first time since 2014, the Baltimore City Board of Ethics on Monday released an annual report detailing the city’s efforts to comply with ethics laws.

The findings–including lobbying efforts, financial disclosures, conflicts of interest–were presented to Mayor Brandon Scott, the City Council and members of the public, the Ethics Board said.

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The report was produced to demonstrate how the city is following its ethics law, which was modeled after the state’s ethics law and was put in place to “guard against improper influence or even the appearance of improper influence, and to ensure public trust in the government.”

Among other things, the ethics panel is charged with investigating ethics complaints and handing down sanctions, training public officials and employees on ethics, offering guidance on ethical matters, and overseeing the financial disclosure and lobbyist reporting systems.

To keep up with the times, the panel established a hotline and email address this year to manage ethical inquiries, complaints and other matters relating to ethics. Through that help desk feature, the board’s staff handled more than 1,500 requests, the majority (1,101) of which were questions about financial disclosures.

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The board also issued five advisory opinions on a range of matters, including gifts to city officials, post-employment requirements for public officials and questions about secondary employment.

Making up the largest piece of the ethics puzzle were financial disclosures, which public servants are required to make in certain situations. For example, if a public servant has a financial interest in business dealings with the city, or they’ve received a gift from someone who does business with the city, they would need to disclose that information.

The ethics panel found the city’s public servants achieved 99-percent compliance in the 2021 filing season. Over 2,800 people filed disclosures, an 11-percent increase compared to 2020.

The board fielded a total of 17 complaints in 2021, with seven falling outside the board’s authority. The rest of the complaints are summarized in the panel’s annual report.

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CBS Baltimore Staff