Financial disclosure statements must be filed annually by certain categories of public officials. Officials are required to disclose sources of income and assets, including those of a spouse and any dependent children and must also disclose whether they, a spouse or dependent child hold an interest in any business regulated by Rhode Island government or in any enterprise which engages in business transactions with the government.
If you wish to obtain a copy of an individual’s financial disclosure form, simply e-mail us or call 222-3790 and an electronic copy can be e-mailed to you.
Q. Who is required to file with the Ethics Commission?
A. All State appointed and elected officials and employees holding major decision-making positions, as well as all municipal elected and certain municipal appointed officials are required by law to file a Financial Disclosure Statement every year. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-16. All officials required to file must continue to file Financial Disclosure Statements until they have been out of office for one full calendar year. Additionally, candidates for elected office are required to file a Financial Disclosure Statement within 30 days of the deadline for declaring candidacy.
Q. When must the statements be filed?
A. The Code of Ethics requires that a Financial Disclosure Statement be filed with the Ethics Commission by the last Friday in April, or within thirty (30) days of appointment to a public position or declaration as a candidate in an election.
Q. What is the purpose of financial disclosure?
A. The purpose of requiring financial disclosure is to help insure that those people who are acting in the public interest do not use their public positions to further their private financial interests. The Financial Disclosure Statement also provides evidence that there are no conflicts between an official's financial interests and his or her public office.
Q. What information is required?
A. The Financial Disclosure Statement requires the listing of certain assets and sources of income, but does not required divulging net worth. Some information that is required is: the name of the public official’s employer, spouse, and dependent children; names of businesses in which the public official, spouse or dependent children have at least a 10% of $5,000 ownership or investment interest; a description of all real estate, other than the official’s principal residence; and debts of more than $1,000 to anyone other than family members (within the third degree of consanguinity), financial institutions where the debt is secured by a mortgage on the filer's principal residence, or debts arising from credit card transactions.
Q. I am not paid anything for my position. Why do I have to file?
A. The financial disclosure law passed by the General Assembly requires that the Financial Disclosure Statement be filed whether or not an individual is paid for his or her services. The focus of the statement is an official's private financial interests. Since the Code of Ethics prohibits the use of a public official’s office for his or her own private financial gain, disclosure of what those private interests are is required.
Q. What if I cannot meet the deadline to submit the Financial Disclosure Statement?
A. For anyone who is already in office, the Ethics Commission will allow an extension of up to sixty (60) days if the request for an extension is received before the filing deadline, or if the deadline is not met due to physical or mental incapacity. A candidate for public elective office may obtain an extension of fifteen (15) days if a written request is received by the Commission by the date on which the statement is due.
Q. What are the penalties if a violation occurs?
A. If a knowing and willful violation of the provisions of the Code of Ethics is found, the Ethics Commission may impose a civil penalty of up to $25,000. In cases of non-filing of the financial statement, most penalties are $1000 or less, but higher penalties have been assessed.
Q. Where do I get a Financial Disclosure Statement?
A. Forms are available at no charge at the Commission offices or by calling to request a form at 401-222-3790.
Q. Do I have to answer every question if they do not apply to me?
A. Yes. Each question must be answered. If it does not apply to you, please write "not applicable." If a form is not complete, it may be mailed back to you.
Q. What do I need to list under "public offices"?
A. Every public office you hold must be disclosed on the Financial Disclosure Form. For instance, if you are a member of a municipal board, but also serve on other committees, municipal or state, whether as a regular member, or ex-officio, those offices must also be listed on the Financial Disclosure form under question #3.
Q. If I receive a salary or stipend from my public office, do I need to list it as a source of income?
A. Yes, a person filing a Financial Disclosure Statement must list the names of any employer of the public official, his or her spouse, and dependent child if is more than $1,000 gross. If you are self-employed, you must list the occupation from which $1,000 gross income was received. If you are self-employed and rendered services to a state or municipal agency for an amount in excess of $250, the date and nature of those services must be provided.
Q. Do I need to list my non-profit affiliations?
A. If you, your spouse or dependent child held a position as a director, officer, partner, trustee or a management position in a business or non-profit organization, the name and position must be listed under question 9.
Q. Under what authority is the Ethics Commission empowered to require my filing?
The Ethics Commission is empowered by the Rhode Island Constitution to adopt ethics code provisions governing financial disclosure by public officials. R.I. Const. art.III, Sec. 8. By statute, financial disclosure is required of all elected officials, all candidates for public office, and persons appointed to serve as an officer or member of certain state or municipal agencies. R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-16.Ethics Use only