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Rhode Island Constitution

Article III, Section 7 – Ethical conduct.

The people of the State of Rhode Island believe that public officials and employees must adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct, respect the public trust and the rights of all persons, be open, accountable and responsive, avoid the appearance of impropriety and not use their position for private gain or advantage. Such persons shall hold their positions during good behavior.

Article III, Section 8 – Ethics commission – Code of ethics.

The general assembly shall establish an independent non-partisan ethics commission which shall adopt a code of ethics including, but not limited to, provisions on conflicts of interest, confidential information, use of position, contracts with government agencies and financial disclosure. The assent of two-thirds (2/3) of the members appointed shall be required for the adoption for every rule or regulation. All elected and appointed officials and employees of state and local government, of boards, commissions and agencies shall be subject to the code of ethics. The ethics commission shall have the authority to investigate alleged violations of the code of ethics, including acts otherwise protected by Article VI, Section 5, and to impose penalties, as provided by law. Any sanction issued against any party by the ethics commission shall be appealable to the judicial branch as provided by law. The commission shall have the power to remove from office officials who are not otherwise subject to impeachment, or expulsion as provided by Article VI, Section 7.

Notes: The two constitutional provisions (“the Ethics Amendments”) above, were originally approved by Rhode Island voters on November 4, 1986. Article III, Section 8, along with the “Speech in Debate Clause,” reproduced below, were amended by the voters on November 8, 2016 to clarify that members of the General Assembly fall under the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.

Article VI, Section 5 – Immunities of general assembly members.

* * * For any speech in debate in either house, no member shall be questioned in any other place, except by the ethics commission as set forth in Article III, Section 8.