The Code of Ethics applies to candidates for state and national elective offices, elected officials and public sector employees. Under the definition of the Code, and for purposes of compliance, a Member of the OEK is simultaneously a public official and a candidate. This means that they can be subject to both the relevant probity and ethics requirements in their work, and also to the financial disclosure regimes around fundraising and campaign expenditures, throughout their elected term.
The Code prohibits conflicts of interest. This provision prevents members of the OEK from using their position for personal benefit, such as financial gain, jobs or other perks for family members or themselves. Members must be careful not to introduce or vote on legislation that would benefit them more than members of the public at large and not to accept money, trips or other gifts from individuals or companies who would benefit from proposed legislation. It is also a violation of the ethics rules for member s to use government property, such as vehicles, for private purposes, as opposed to the purposes relating to their position. The Legal Council’s Office for each house can assist members by offering advice on avoiding ethical violations.
The Code of Ethics Act established an Ethics Commission to implement and enforce the Code. The Commission consists of three members appointed by the President of the Republic on the advice and consent of the Senate. The Commission has the power “to initiate, receive, and consider charges concerning alleged violations of the Act, initiate or make investigations, and hold hearings” among other powers. The Commission has an ongoing function in educating public officials and employees about their duties under the Act. Violations of the Ethics Act also may be prosecuted by the Special Prosecutor.
The Code requires each public official to annually disclose their financial interests and each candidate for elective office to submit an accounting of all campaign donation statements. Pursuant to this rule, each member must make a full financial disclosure each year, describing their income, assets (including land), debts and other economic details, to the Ethics Commission. This disclosure should reveal, for each member, that they did not gain any illegal or unethical financial benefits from their position. Each submitted financial disclosure form is a public document, all the information on a submitted form is accessible to any member of the public.