Tennessee Ethics Commission
The Tennessee Ethics Commission was created with the passage of the Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006, signed into law by Governor Bredesen on February 15, 2006. The Commission’s jurisdiction was effective October 1, 2006. Among its many mandates, the Commission has the responsibility to:
- Promulgate rules and regulations (pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act) to implement the provisions of the Act;
- Recommend “Guiding Principles of Ethical Conduct” for the General Assembly, the executive agencies, lobbyists, and employers of lobbyists;
- Receive complaints and conduct investigations, in conjunction with the Tennessee Attorney General’s office;
- Compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents as needed to conduct its investigations;
- Conduct an annual ethics course for supervisory personnel of the Executive Branch, the General Assembly, and lobbyists;
- Provide an ethics manual for lobbyists and employers of lobbyists with the employer of the lobbyist, on its initial Lobbyist Registration Statement, being required to verify receipt of the manual;
- Collect and disseminate Disclosure of Interests Statements for the General Assembly, Governor, Governor’s Cabinet, the Constitutional Officers, other state officials, local elected officials and candidates and appointees to such positions;
- Provide public access to the documents and forms filed with the Commission to the extent financially and technologically practical; and
- Provide an annual report to the Governor and the General Assembly by February 1st concerning the administration and enforcement of laws under the jurisdiction of the Commission, including the necessity, or lack of necessity, for any additional action or additional legislation that will serve to further the purposes of the law.
In 2009, the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance was created in order to consolidate management and administrative functions of the Tennessee Ethics Commission and the Registry of Election Finance, in order to save the taxpayers of Tennessee and the regulated entities several hundred thousand dollars per year. The separate six-member boards of the Commission and the Registry continue to exist with no change in their respective jurisdictions, powers, duties, and authority.