Chapter 2.96


2.96.010    PURPOSE.

2.96.020    DEFINITIONS.

2.96.030    VIOLATIONS.


2.96.050    ENFORCEMENT.





2.96.010 PURPOSE.

The proper operation of democratic government requires public confidence in the integrity of its officials. As a cornerstone to open and responsive government, this Ethics Code sets standards for city officials, officers and employees. It serves as a restatement of state codes and standards in addition to Chapter 42.23 RCW, in areas of municipal operations where public trust is served by clear definition of expected behavior. (Ord. 4654, Repealed & Replaced, 08/07/1999)


(1)    Immediate Family - Husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter; like relatives by marriage such as stepson, stepdaughter; father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

(2)    Public Officer or Employee - Any person, officer or employee holding a full-time regular position by election, appointment or employment in the service of the City, whether paid or unpaid, includes members of any board, committee or commission.

(3)    Quasi-judicial Proceedings - Those actions that determine the legal rights, duties or privileges of a specific party in a hearing or contested proceeding. They do not include legislative actions of area-wide significance or which affect the public generally.

(4)    RCW 42.52.010 is hereby adopted. Any reference to the State, it’s agencies, employees, agents, and similar references shall be understood to refer to the City of Bremerton, its departments, employees, agents, and similar references. Reference to "statute" shall mean statute or ordinance. Additionally, Subsections (1) through (3) of this Section shall control over conflicting provisions in RCW 42.52.010. (Ord. 4654, Repealed & Replaced, 08/07/1999)

2.96.030 VIOLATIONS.

(1)    The following Sections of the Revised Code of Washington, and any amendments thereto, are hereby adopted by reference. This Ethics Code and Chapter 42.23 RCW shall control over any conflicting provisions adopted under this Section. Any reference to State, or similar references, shall be interpreted to refer to the City of Bremerton:

RCW 42.52.020    Activities incompatible with public service

RCW 42.52.030(1)&(3)    Financial interests in transactions

RCW 42.52.040    Assisting in transactions

RCW 42.52.050    Confidential information - Improperly concealed records

RCW 42.52.060    Testimony of state officials and state employees

RCW 42.52.070    Special Privileges

RCW 42.52.080    Employment after public service

RCW 42.52.090    Limited assistance by former state officers and employees

RCW 42.52.100(1)    Conditions on appearance before state agencies

RCW 42.52.110(1)    Compensation for official duties or nonperformance

RCW 42.52.130    Honoraria

RCW 42.52.140    Gifts

RCW 42.52.150    Limitation on gifts

RCW 42.52.160(1)&(2)    Use of persons, money, or property for private gain

RCW 42.52.170    Giving, paying, loaning, etc., anything of economic value

(2)    Appearance of fairness: No public officer or employee with decision-making authority shall participate in or influence any pending quasi-judicial proceeding whom:

(a)    Has a financial interest in the matter;

(b)    Has pre-judged the merits before hearing; or

(c)    Has a personal bias for or against any party affected by the action.

Provided, however, an officer may participate under the exceptions provided under chapter 42.36 RCW. Any contacts with an opponent or proponent by a decision-making official regarding a pending quasi-judicial proceeding is prohibited unless disclosure is made on the record pursuant to RCW 42.36.060. (Ord. 4654, Repealed & Replaced, 08/07/1999)


The following conduct shall be deemed additional violations of this chapter:

(1)    To knowingly file a false charge or complaint of a violation of this ethics code,

(2)    To induce or coerce or attempt to induce or coerce anyone into violating a provision of this ethics code,

(3)    To knowingly commit or allow any breach of confidentiality contrary to this ethics code,

(4)    To retaliate or engage in reprisals against any person making a complaint of violations of this ethics code. (Ord. 4654, Repealed & Replaced, 08/07/1999)


A.    Any person who has knowledge of a violation of this Code of Ethics committed by any person may make a signed written report of the same to the City Clerk. The report must set forth specific facts detailing the alleged violation, including the date and place of violation; names and telephone numbers of all persons having knowledge of the alleged conduct; the sections and subsections of this code alleged to have been violated; and the specific conduct at issue. The report must be signed under penalty of perjury under the laws of this state and include the name, address and telephone number of the person submitting the report. The fact that a report has been received, the contents of the report, and the identity of the person making the report shall remain confidential to the extent allowed by law, including public disclosure laws of the State of Washington. The Mayor, after receipt of a copy of the report, shall, within five (5) days, refer the same to the City Auditor for an initial threshold determination of whether reasonable cause exists to believe that a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred.

B.    Upon receipt of a report, the City Auditor, without benefit of subpoenas or sworn testimony, shall, within thirty (30) days of receipt by City, make such preliminary investigation as he or she deems appropriate to determine whether reasonable cause exists to believe that a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred. If the City Auditor believes that the allegations may constitute a criminal matter, he or she shall refer the report to the proper authorities for consideration of criminal prosecution. If the City Auditor determines that reasonable cause exists to believe that a violation of this Code of Ethics has occurred, the City Auditor shall present the matter to the Hearing Examiner in a public hearing. The City Auditor shall be represented by the City Attorney, or the City Attorney’s designee, to pursue any remedies provided by this Chapter.

C.    If the City Auditor should determine reasonable cause does not exist, he or she shall communicate his or her decision in writing to the person who made the initial report with ten (10) days of making the determination. The City Auditor may make a determination that the complaint is frivolous and without merit pursuant to Section 2.96.060. See Section 2.96.080 for notice requirements.

D.    Within thirty (30) days of rendering a determination of reasonable cause, the City Auditor shall notify, in writing, the person who make the report and the person complained against, of the public hearing which will be held to determine if a violation has occurred. Notice shall be provided at least thirty (30) days prior to the date set for the hearing. The person complained against shall have the right to file a written answer to the charge and to appear at the hearing with or without legal counsel, submit testimony, be fully heard, and to examine and cross-examine witnesses. See Section 2.96.080 for notice requirements.

E.    Hearings conducted by the Hearing Examiner shall be informal, meaning that the Hearing Examiner shall not be bound by the strict rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity. The Hearing Examiner may call witnesses on his or her own motion and compel the production of books, records, papers, or other evidence needed by the parties. To that end, the Hearing Examiner shall issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum on his or her own or at the request of the City Auditor or the person complained against. All testimony shall be under oath administered by the Hearing Examiner. The Hearing Examiner may adjourn the hearing from time to time in order to allow for the orderly presentation of evidence. The Hearing Examiner shall prepare an official record of the hearing, including all testimony, which shall be recorded by mechanical device, and exhibits; provided that the Hearing Examiner shall not be required to transcribe such records unless presented with a request accompanied by payment of the cost of transcription.

F.    Within thirty (30) days after the conclusion of the hearing the Hearing Examiner shall, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, make and fully record in his permanent records, findings of fact, conclusions of law, determination of a recommended disposition, and his or her order. A copy of the findings, conclusions, recommended disposition, and order shall be forwarded by certified mail, or personal service, to the person who made the initial report and to the person complained against at addresses as given by both persons to the Hearing Examiner. An additional copy of the findings, conclusions, recommendations, and order shall be forwarded to the City Auditor, the City Attorney, and the person(s) responsible for acting on the recommendations.

G.    Any person found, by final written order of the Hearing Examiner, to be in violation of this Code of Ethics may seek review of the Hearing Examiner’s order and any other decision based upon that order in the following manner:

(1)    Civil penalty: If the Hearing Examiner orders the person to pay a civil penalty, the person may appeal in the form of a trial de novo in the Bremerton Municipal Court, which shall hear the case according to the Civil Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (CRLJ) and applicable local rules of the Bremerton Municipal Court. This appeal shall be taken by filing in the Bremerton Municipal Court a notice of appeal within fourteen (14) days of the date of the Hearing Examiner’s order. Proof of actual and timely receipt by the Bremerton Municipal Court is on the person filing the appeal. The person filing the appeal shall also, within the same fourteen (14) days, personally serve a copy of the notice of appeal on the Hearing Examiner, the City Auditor, and the City Attorney, and file an acknowledgment or affidavit of service in the Bremerton Municipal Court.

(2)    Cease and Desist. If the Hearing Examiner orders a person to cease and desist violating this chapter, the person may seek a writ of review from the Superior Court pursuant to RCW 7.16, within fourteen (14) days of the date of the Hearing Examiner’s order.

(3)    Public Disclosure. If the Hearing Examiner orders a person to file any documents or papers required by this chapter, the person may seek a writ of review from the Superior Court pursuant to RCW 7.16, within fourteen (14) days of the date of the Hearing Examiner’s order.

(4)    Discipline. If the Hearing Examiner recommends either discipline, for any City official or employee; or removal from employment for a City employee, excluding elected officials, and the discipline or removal actually occurs, the City employee or official may seek whatever remedies exist at law or in equity, including applicable labor agreements and Civil Service Rules.

(5)    Debarment. If the Hearing Examiner recommends that the person be excluded from bidding on public contracts and the exclusion actually occurs, the person may seek whatever remedies exist at law or in equity.

(6)    Termination of Contract. If the Hearing Examiner recommends that the person’s contract with the City be terminated and the contract is actually terminated, the person may seek whatever remedies exist at law or in equity. (Ord. 4654, Repealed & Replaced, 08/07/1999)


1.    The Hearing Examiner may, at the request of a party, or on his or her motion, make a finding that a complaint brought pursuant to this Ethics Code is frivolous and without merit.

2.    If the City Auditor or the Hearing Examiner makes a finding that a complaint has been brought which is frivolous and without merit, the person making such a complaint shall be liable to the City for the cost of the City Auditor’s investigation and the Hearing Examiner’s hearing, if applicable. If the complainant is a City employee, he or she may additionally be subject to disciplinary action. (Ord. 4654, Repealed & Replaced, 08/07/1999)


Violators shall pay a civil penalty of up to One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or three (3) times the economic value of anything received in violation of this chapter, whichever is greater. Any monetary penalty assessed civilly shall be placed in the City’s general fund. The Hearing Examiner will also have the authority to issue orders specified in BMC 2.96.050(G). (Ord. 4733, Reaffirmed, 11/30/2000; 4680, Amended, 12/17/1999; 4654, Repealed & Replaced, 08/07/1999)


Any written notice, notice of appeal, or other document required to be served under the terms of this Ethics Code may be personally served pursuant to Superior Court Rules for service of process; or may be mailed by first class mail three working days prior to the last day for service. This section applies unless specific provision is made for service in another manner. Proof of proper service is the burden of the serving party. (Ord. 4654, Repealed & Replaced, 08/07/1999)


The City Clerk shall cause a copy of this Code of Ethics to be distributed to every public officer and employee of the City within thirty (30) days after enactment of this code. Each public officer and employee elected, appointed or engaged thereafter shall acknowledge receipt of a copy before entering service. (Ord. 4654, Repealed & Replaced, 08/07/1999)