Rhode Island Ethics Commission By-laws

Article I

Officers and Employees of the Commission

Section 1. Election of Officers

Pursuant to Title 36, Chapter 14 of the General Laws of the State of Rhode Island, and authority contained therein, the Commission shall elect one (1) of its members Chairperson, one (1) of its members Vice Chairperson, and one (1) of its members Secretary. Said election shall be held annually in the month of September. Elected Officers will assume their duties immediately until a successor is named.

Section 2. Chairperson

The Chairperson shall be the chief executive officer of the Commission and shall have the powers to perform the duties customarily appurtenant to such office, and shall have further powers and shall perform such further duties as shall from time to time be assigned by the Commission. In his or her absence, the Vice-Chairperson shall preside.

Section 3. Vice Chairperson

The Vice Chairperson shall perform the duties and exercise the powers of the Chairperson in the absence or incapacity of the Chairperson. In case of resignation or death of the Chairperson, the Vice Chairperson shall perform the duties and exercise the powers of the Chairperson until such time as a new Chairperson is elected. Elected Officers will assume their duties immediately and shall serve in that capacity until a successor is named.

Section 4. Secretary

The Secretary shall perform the duties prescribed for that office and shall perform all other duties ordinarily pertaining to the office of Secretary. The Secretary shall keep a correct record of all proceedings of meetings.

Section 5. Executive Director

The Commission shall employ an Executive Director who shall administer, manage and direct the affairs and the business of the Commission subject to the policies, control and direction of the Commissioners.

The Executive Director shall be the chief operating officer of the Commission, shall keep records of the business of the Commission, and, in the Secretary's absence shall keep record of the proceedings of the Commission, and shall be custodian of all books, documents and papers filed with the Commission, and of its minute book. He or she shall have authority to cause to be made copies of all minutes and other records and documents of the Commission, and to give certificates under the seal of the Commission to the effect that such copies are true copies and all persons dealing with the Commission may rely upon such certifications.

The Executive Director shall arrange all meetings of the Commission when the same are called pursuant to these rules. The Executive Director shall notify all members of the Commission of the call of said meeting, and shall prepare an agenda for such meeting. The Executive Director, as Secretary, shall be responsible for written minutes of the Commission's meetings, and shall transmit the actions and recommendations of the Commission as directed by the Commission.

Article II


Section 1. Regular Meetings

The Commission shall meet at regular intervals to conduct the business for the purposes of carrying out its powers and duties as set forth in Title 36, Chapter 14 and related regulations and in accordance with Title 42, Chapter 46 of the General Laws of the State of Rhode Island entitled "Open Meetings". A yearly schedule of meetings shall be prepared by the Executive Director during the month of January, and shall be forwarded to all Commission members. Regularly scheduled meetings of the Commission may be rescheduled by the Commission upon motion or by the Executive Director with good cause and where reasonably possible with at least five (5) days notice to members of the Commission.

Section 2. Meetings for adjudications

Meetings for adjudications pursuant to 36-14-13 shall be scheduled by the Commission upon affirmative vote of the members participating in the adjudication.

Section 3. Special Meetings

Special meetings of the full Commission may be called at the direction of the Chairperson. In the event of the absence or incapacity of the Chairperson, the Vice Chairperson may call such special meeting. A special meeting may also be called by 3 members of the Commission. Notification of said special meeting called by said members of the Commission shall be conveyed in writing over said Commission signatures to the Secretary. The Secretary shall then advise the Chairperson of such action. The Secretary shall further cause notice of said meeting to be sent to all Commission members.

Notice of any special meeting shall be at least five (5) days previous thereto by written notice delivered personally or mailed to each member of the Commission at this place of residence or business, or in the alternative, by telefax or by overnight mailing service. Said notice shall contain a brief statement as to matters to be discussed.

Section 4. Emergency Meetings

Subject to the requirements of Chapter 46 of Title 42 of the General Laws of the State of Rhode Island, the Commission may hold an emergency meeting. The items taken up at such an emergency meeting, under these rules, shall be limited to those of an emergency nature. All the steps reasonable necessary shall be taken to notify all Commission members of the pendency of such meeting.

Section 5. Agenda

Prior to each meeting of the Commission, the Executive Director or his/her designee shall prepare an agenda. The agenda for each regular meeting shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  1. approval of the minutes of the previous meeting;

  2. items for action or discussion;

  3. staff reports, committee reports;

  4. other business.

Any member of the Commission may place an item on the agenda of any regular meeting, under the heading "Other Business." Copies of the agenda shall be sent to each Commission member and any other parties requesting such agenda at least three (3) days before a regular Commission meeting. Agendas may also be sent to any person or organization requesting said agenda. All persons appearing before the Commission, either on their own behalf, or in a representative capacity shall conform to standards of reasonable orderly conduct. If any person does not conform to such standards the Chairperson may decline to permit such persons to address the Commission at said proceeding.

Section 6. Quorum

A quorum for any full Commission meeting shall be five (5) members.

Section 7. Attendance

Members are expected to attend all scheduled meetings of the Commission. Members who are unable to attend regularly scheduled meetings, for any reason, are encouraged to submit to the Commission's Secretary in advance of said meeting notice for such absence. In the event a Commission member fails to submit said notice of absence for three (3) consecutive meetings, the Secretary shall notify the Chairperson, and the Chairperson shall be empowered to take whatever action, if any, is deemed necessary. In the event of repeated and continued absences on the part of any member of the Commission after said notification of the Chairperson, the Chairperson may then decide to bring this matter before the Commission, and by majority vote of the Commission, to send a recommendation to the appointing authority asking that the appointment be reconsidered.

Section 8. Meeting Records

The Secretary of the Commission or in the Secretary's absence, the Executive Director, shall be responsible for the minutes of all Commission and Committee meetings. All votes taken at any Commission meetings or Committee meetings shall be noted in the minutes. Upon approval of the minutes by the Commission, the Secretary or Secretary Pro Tem's signature shall be affixed to the minutes.

Article III

Public Hearings

Public hearings shall be conducted in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act and the rules for public hearings as adopted from time to time by the Commission. Public hearings may be scheduled as part of a regular or special Commission meeting, or at other times as directed by the Commission.

Article IV


The Chairperson may appoint, from time to time, as deemed necessary, those members of the Commission necessary to form a committee. The Chairperson shall further appoint a Chairperson of said committee who shall call all said committee meetings as needed, and who shall be responsible to report to the Chairperson and to the Commission the findings, conclusion and consensus of said committee. Nothing herein shall be construed to prevent the Chairperson of the Commission from appointing himself or herself Chairperson of the committee. Said committee meetings shall also be conducted in accordance with the provision of Title 42, Chapter 46 of the General Laws of the State of Rhode Island entitled "Open Meetings."

A majority of each committee so appointed shall constitute a quorum. Prior to each committee meeting, the Executive Director, after consultation with the Chairperson, shall prepare an agenda. Copies of the Agenda shall be sent to each committee member at least three (3) days before the meeting.

Minutes of each committee meeting shall be recorded by a member of the Committee. The minutes shall reflect the names of all members of that committee present at each regular meeting or special meeting of said committee, as well as any votes taken, and any other items as required by the Open Meetings Law.

Should a vacancy occur on the committee, either through resignation or inability of any member to serve on said committee, the Chairperson of the Commission may appoint a replacement from the remaining members of the Commission. All members of the committee shall serve at the discretion of the Chairperson, unless otherwise appointed for a term.

The Chairperson, at his or her discretion, may appoint member and nonmember advisory committees for the sole purpose of rendering advice to the Commission. Said members of advisory committees who are not otherwise members of this Commission shall merely act in a capacity of advisors to the Commission and shall not be able to act on behalf of the Commission, speak for the Commission or otherwise bind the Commission.

Article V

Access to Files and Records

It is the policy of the Commission that its files and records shall be available for inspection by the public to the fullest possible extent consistent with the Commission's ability to pursue effectively its activities. All Commission records, other than those referenced in R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-2(4) and those relating to the investigation of complaints, shall be open to public inspection at reasonable times. Such records shall include, but are not limited to, pending Complaints and advisory opinion requests. Any person wishing to review Commission records shall be entitled to examine said information during Commission business hours and upon reasonable noticed and request. Copies of such public material shall be available to all persons, subject to the payment of costs --(1) legal or business size copies- fifteen cents ($.15) per page and (2) search and retrieval - fifteen dollars ($15) an hour provided that a charge shall not be applied to the first ten (10) minutes of a search or retrieval.

Article VI

Effect of By-Laws

To become effective, these By-laws must be accepted by two-thirds (2/3) of the Commission membership.

When not inconsistent with these bylaws or other provisions of the General Law of the State of Rhode Island, the Commission shall follow Robert's Rules of Order. This section of the rules shall not apply to public hearings where the Commission is acting in a quasi-judicial capacity or any other proceedings similar thereto before the Commission. This section of the rules may be suspended from time to time at any meeting where a quorum is present by a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of members present. This suspension, however, shall only be for the duration of the meeting in which said vote was taken.

Any commissioner may seek to amend the by-laws by submitting his of her reasons, in writing, to the Executive Director ten (10) days prior to the next scheduled meeting. Amendments to the by-laws shall require a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Commission membership.

Adopted by the Commission December 17, 1997