(1) It is the duty of the Commission on Ethics to receive and investigate sworn complaints of violation of the code of ethics as established in this part and of any other breach of the public trust, as provided in s. 8(f), Art. II of the State Constitution, including investigation of all facts and parties materially related to the complaint at issue.
(2)(a) Any public officer or employee may request a hearing before the Commission on Ethics to present oral or written testimony in response to allegations that such person violated the code of ethics established in this part or allegations of any other breach of the public trust, as provided in s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution, provided a majority of the commission members present and voting consider that the allegations are of such gravity as to affect the general welfare of the state and the ability of the subject public officer or employee effectively to discharge the duties of the office. If the allegations made against the subject public officer or employee are made under oath, then he or she shall also be required to testify under oath.
(b) Upon completion of any investigation initiated under this subsection, the commission shall make a finding and public report as to whether any provision of the code of ethics has been violated or any other breach of the public trust has been committed by the subject official or employee. In the event that a violation or breach is found to have been committed, the commission shall recommend appropriate action to the agency or official having power to impose any penalty provided by s. 112.317.
(c) All proceedings conducted pursuant to this subsection shall be public meetings within the meaning of chapter 286, and all documents made or received in connection with the commission’s investigation thereof shall be public records within the meaning of chapter 119.
(d) Any response to a request of a public official or employee shall be addressed in the first instance to the official or employee making the request.
(3)(a) Every public officer, candidate for public office, or public employee, when in doubt about the applicability and interpretation of this part or s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution to himself or herself in a particular context, may submit in writing the facts of the situation to the Commission on Ethics with a request for an advisory opinion to establish the standard of public duty. Any public officer or employee who has the power to hire or terminate employees may likewise seek an advisory opinion from the commission as to the application of the provisions of this part or s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution to any such employee or applicant for employment. An advisory opinion shall be rendered by the commission, and each such opinion shall be numbered, dated, and published without naming the person making the request, unless such person consents to the use of his or her name.
(b) Such opinion, until amended or revoked, shall be binding on the conduct of the officer, employee, or candidate who sought the opinion or with reference to whom the opinion was sought, unless material facts were omitted or misstated in the request for the advisory opinion.
(4) The commission has the power to subpoena, audit, and investigate. The commission may subpoena witnesses and compel their attendance and testimony, administer oaths and affirmations, take evidence, and require by subpoena the production of any books, papers, records, or other items relevant to the performance of the duties of the commission or to the exercise of its powers. The commission may delegate to its investigators the authority to administer oaths and affirmations. The commission may delegate the authority to issue subpoenas to its chair, and may authorize its employees to serve any subpoena issued under this section. In the case of a refusal to obey a subpoena issued to any person, the commission may make application to any circuit court of this state which shall have jurisdiction to order the witness to appear before the commission and to produce evidence, if so ordered, or to give testimony touching on the matter in question. Failure to obey the order may be punished by the court as contempt. Witnesses shall be paid mileage and witnesses fees as authorized for witnesses in civil cases, except that a witness who is required to travel outside the county of his or her residence to testify is entitled to per diem and travel expenses at the same rate provided for state employees under s. 112.061, to be paid after the witness appears.
(5) The commission may recommend that the Governor initiate judicial proceedings in the name of the state against any executive or administrative state, county, or municipal officer to enforce compliance with any provision of this part or of s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution or to restrain violations of this part or of s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution, pursuant to s. 1(b), Art. IV of the State Constitution; and the Governor may without further action initiate such judicial proceedings.
(6) The commission is authorized to call upon appropriate agencies of state government for such professional assistance as may be needed in the discharge of its duties. The Department of Legal Affairs shall, upon request, provide legal and investigative assistance to the commission.
(7) The commission may prepare materials designed to assist persons in complying with the provisions of this part and with s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution.
(8) It shall be the further duty of the commission to submit to the Legislature from time to time a report of its work and recommendations for legislation deemed necessary to improve the code of ethics and its enforcement.
(9) The commission is authorized to make such rules not inconsistent with law as are necessary to carry out the duties and authority conferred upon the commission by s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution or by this part. Such rules shall be limited to:
(a) Rules providing for the practices and procedures of the commission.
(b) Rules interpreting the disclosures and prohibitions established by s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution and by this part.