From the Official Blog of Delegate Mike Smigiel ——
The County recently added a section to the form that a complaintant is required to fill out. The new language notifys the complaining party that they are prohibited from telling anyone else about the ethics complaint they had filed. The penalty for telling someone you filed an ethics complaint can be up to a year in jail and $5,000 fine. The basis for the information being put on the form is Cecil County Code Section 166-6C.
The public policy in having ethics boards, is to encourage citizens to come forward and report perceived conflicts of interest or unethical behavoir of government officials. Threatening citizens with the possibility of jail and a large fine for coming forward and later telling someone about their having filed a complaint is certainly counter productive to the public policy goal of encouraging the public to participate in such public discourse.
The Attorney General’s office was asked to review this Cecil County policy and issued a letter stating they agreed that Cecil County can not enforce a criminal sanction against someone who violates this Cecil County Code Provision.