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Filing Complaints with the Ethics Commission

What is a complaint?

A complaint is a written document submitted to the Ethics Commission containing allegations that a City official has violated one or more of the City's governmental ethics laws. The person filing the complaint with the Ethics Commission is called the "complainant." The person in the complaint who is alleged to have violated the City's governmental ethics laws is called the "respondent."

How do I file a complaint?

You may file a formal or informal complaint electronically with the Ethics Commission by selecting the appropriate form on the Complaint section of our website. Note that formal complaints must be signed under penalty of perjury (the online form allows an electronic signature). Informal complaints do not require a signature and may be made anonymously. Please do not file a complaint with the Ethics Commission unless it involves a violation that is subject to the Commission's enforcement authority (please refer to our jurisdiction FAQs).

May I verbally lodge a complaint at an Ethics Commission meeting?

No. The Commission's procedures, as set forth in Municipal Code section 26.0421(d), explicitly prohibit the receipt of complaints at public meetings.

May I file an anonymous complaint?

Yes. The Commission's procedures allow Commission staff to process a complaint that does not include the name of the complainant.

If I file a complaint, is my identity kept confidential?

Although certain Commission records pertaining to each complaint are available to the public following a dismissal, the identity of the complainant is always kept confidential unless the complainant authorizes the release of his or her identity.

What happens after I file a complaint?

In accordance with Ethics Commission procedures, the Executive Director will conduct a preliminary review of the complaint to determine whether the allegations fall within the jurisdiction of the Commission. The preliminary review is generally completed within thirty days of receiving the complaint. If the Executive Director determines that the allegations are not within the Commission's jurisdiction, the complaint will be dismissed and letters will be sent to the complainant and respondent explaining the reasons for the dismissal.

If the Executive Director determines that the allegations are within the Commission's jurisdiction, the matter will be brought to the Commission with a request that it authorize an investigation. Neither the complainant nor the respondent is notified when an investigation is authorized. Following the conclusion of the investigation, the results of that investigation are presented to the Commission, which will then determine whether the matter should be dismissed, referred to another agency, returned to the Executive Director for settlement negotiations, or submitted for a probable cause hearing. If the Commission decides to dismiss the matter, both the complainant and respondent will be notified.