THE STATE AND ITS GOVERNMENT
LEGISLATIVE ETHICS COMMITTEE
14-B:4 Complaints; Procedures.
I. Each complaint shall be submitted in writing and signed under oath by the complainant. The sworn complaint shall be filed confidentially with the committee and shall contain the name and address of the complainant. The legislator, officer, or employee of the legislature complained against shall be furnished with a copy of the complaint and a copy shall be sent to each member of the committee for review. The committee shall initiate a complaint on its own motion against any individual the committee determines has not complied with the provisions of RSA 14-B:8. The committee shall promptly examine each sworn complaint and:
(a) If by an affirmative vote of at least 4 members it determines that a complaint is frivolous, scurrilous, or retaliatory in nature, fails to allege conduct which is contrary to the law, ethics guidelines, rules, or regulations, or is otherwise plainly not within the committee's jurisdiction, the committee may summarily discharge the complaint without the benefit of a meeting or further proceeding. The committee shall notify the respondent and complainant in writing of its action.
(b) For any complaint not discharged, the committee shall conduct an initial review to ascertain whether the committee has jurisdiction to consider the complaint or whether the complaint is without merit or is unfounded.
II. Any person who knowingly and willfully swears falsely to a sworn complaint does so under penalty of perjury, and the committee may refer any such case to the attorney general for prosecution.
III. Except as provided in this chapter, all proceedings, information, communications, materials, papers, files, and transcripts, written or oral, received or developed by the committee in the course of its work, shall be confidential. Any violation of these provisions relating to confidentiality may result in action by the committee, at the request of the non-violating party or on its own motion, to terminate the proceedings with or without public comment.
IV. Upon completion of its preliminary investigation of a complaint and determination to resolve the complaint through an informal resolution or to initiate a formal hearing, the committee shall make available for public inspection all records, other than its work product and internal memoranda, relating to any complaint it does not dismiss, and shall conduct any subsequent proceedings, other than its deliberations, in public session.
V. If, after receiving a sworn complaint, the committee concludes by a recorded vote that the alleged conduct is not within the committee's jurisdiction or is without merit or is unfounded, the committee shall dismiss the complaint and shall report such conclusion to the complainant and to the legislator, the officer, or the employee of the legislature together with an explanation of the basis of such determination.
VI. If the committee concludes that the complaint is within its jurisdiction and has merit, then by recorded vote, the committee may conduct a preliminary investigation.
VII. Upon completion of its preliminary investigation, the committee shall conclude by recorded vote that:
(a) No action is appropriate because no improper conduct occurred;
(b) The matter does not merit the presentation of formal charges and hearing and shall be resolved with the consent of the respondent by an informal method. Such informal resolution may take the form of written advice or admonishment, the requirement of remedial action, or the imposition of conditions, or any combination thereof; or
(c) The conduct complained of is of a serious nature and formal proceedings should be instituted to inquire further into the complaint. The committee shall then make a statement of formal charges and hold a hearing on the complaint.
VIII. Upon completion of the hearing, the committee shall conclude by recorded vote that:
(a) No action is appropriate because no improper conduct occurred; or
(b) No action is appropriate because there is not clear and convincing evidence that improper conduct occurred; or
(c) There was improper conduct based upon clear and convincing evidence, but such conduct does not justify formal disciplinary action and should be resolved by informal methods; or
(d)(1) There was improper conduct based upon clear and convincing evidence, and the improper conduct was of a serious nature so as to warrant formal disciplinary action by the general court in the case of a legislator or officer of the legislature, or formal disciplinary action by the joint committee on legislative facilities in the case of an employee of the legislature, except in the case of an employee of the legislature employed by the legislative budget assistant, in which case the formal disciplinary action shall be taken by the fiscal committee of the general court. The committee shall submit to the speaker of the house and senate president in the case of a legislator or officer of the legislature, to the joint committee on legislative facilities in the case of an employee of the legislature, or to the fiscal committee of the general court in the case of an employee of the legislature employed by the legislative budget assistant, a summary report of the deliberations regarding the complaint and of its findings. The report shall contain any specific recommendations concerning disciplinary actions to be imposed. With respect to any recommendations for disciplinary actions against a legislator, the committee may recommend one or more of the following:
(C) Expulsion from the senate or house of representatives.
(D) Denial or limitation of any right, power, privilege, or immunity of the legislator that the constitution of New Hampshire permits the general court to deny or limit.
(2) Before any disciplinary action may be taken against a legislator or against an officer of the legislature, the report shall be ratified by the legislator's or by the officer's respective body of the general court. Such ratification need not occur during the biennium in which the complaint was submitted, but may be considered and acted upon by the general court in the next succeeding session; provided that no action shall be taken against an individual who is no longer a member of the general court.
(3) In a case involving an employee of the legislature, the joint committee on legislative facilities shall determine what disciplinary action shall be taken against the employee. In a case involving an employee of the legislature who is employed by the legislative budget assistant, the fiscal committee of the general court shall determine what disciplinary action shall be taken against the employee. In making its determination, the joint committee on legislative facilities or the fiscal committee of the general court as appropriate may use any of the specific recommendations concerning disciplinary actions which are contained in the report which it receives.
IX. In processing complaints filed under this chapter, the committee shall have subpoena powers. If the legislator, the officer, or the employee of the legislature refuses to participate in the proceedings, the committee may refer the complaint to the attorney general for appropriate action.
X. Any member of the legislative ethics committee who is directly or indirectly involved in any complaint before the committee shall not participate in any proceedings regarding the complaint. In the event that a member does not participate in a particular case, the appointing authority shall designate an alternate to serve on the committee for that case only.
Source. 1991, 105:1. 1994, 329:4. 1995, 196:3. 2001, 215:4. 2004, 86:2; 234:4. 2006, 21:6, eff. June 2, 2006. 2016, 328:3-6, eff. Dec. 7, 2016.