State Commission Supports Kensington’s Town Ethics Code
After review, the town will continue to follow its own established code.
Kensington officials can continue to follow the town’s ethics code for elected officials, rather than the state law, after the Maryland State Ethics Commission decided last month that the town complied with the requirements to receive an exemption.
The commission, comprised of five appointed members, reviewed the town’s exemption status at a Jan. 24 hearing. According to Michael Lord, executive director of the commission, the members took the town’s population, budget and number of households into account when making its decision.
“Although the population did jump a bit from its last review, the general size and budget of Kensington stayed relatively similar,” said Lord. “These are all important factors working in the town’s favor.”
Kensington was first granted an exemption in 1982. Under the terms of the exemption, a review is required every 10 years, but due to certain factors Kensington officials had not stood in front of the commission in almost 20 years.
In addition to the decennial review, this time the commission took into account a 2010 state law, which required local governments to establish ethics laws similar in nature to the state law.
Mayor Peter Fosselman said that the state code would require Kensington elected officials to disclose more information that does not relate to running Kensington operations.
“The financial disclosure the state asks for is very detailed, and is not suitable for a small town dynamic,” said Fosselman. “It’s just not necessary.”
As deputy secretary of state, Fosselman is still required to follow the state guidelines, but he noted that he is happy for the town council members, who will continue to follow Kensington’s ethics code.
According to Fosselman, one council member would have resigned and another would not run for reelection if the state did not grant the exemption.
Fosselman also noted that Kensington has established its own ethics commission, comprised of local volunteers appointed by the mayor.
“We have very good, clear, ethical guidelines right now, which we just recently revamped to make even better,” said Fosselman. “There was no need to change.”