Loading...
702-S NilsenPHONE: 717-783-1610 TOLL FREE: 1-800-932-0936 In Re: James Nilsen, Respondent STATE ETHICS COMMISSION FINANCE BUILDING File Docket: X-ref: Date Decided Date Mailed: FACSIMILE: 717-787-0806 WEBSITE: www.ethl!cs.pa.gov 21 -001 -P Order No. 702-S 9/15/21 9/17/21 Before: Nicholas A. Colafella, Chair Mark R. Corrigan, Vice Chair Roger Nick Melanie DePalma Michael A. Schwartz Shelley Y. Simms This is a final adjudication of the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission as to the alleged delinquency and/or deficiency of Statement(s) of Financial Interests required to be filed pursuant to Sections 1104 and 1105 of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act ("'Ethics Act"), 65 Pa.C.S. § 1101 et sue. The Investigative Division initiated these proceedings by filing with the State Ethics Commission and serving upon Respondent a Petition for, Civil Penalties. An Order to Show Cause was issued to Respondent. An Answer was not filed by the Respondent, and a hearing was deemed waived. The record is complete. The Findings in this Order are derived from the Petition for Civil Penalties filed by the Investigative Division. 1. FINDINGS: Respondent is an adult individual who resides or maintains a mailing address at [address redacted]. 2. At all times relevant to these proceedings, Respondent has been a Supervisor for Springfield Township, Bucks County, and as such, Respondent has at all times relevant to these proceedings been a "public official" as defined in Section 1102 of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. 1102. 1 Respondent as a public official is subject to the Statement of Financial Interests filing provisions of the Ethics Act, 4, Respondent has failed to provide full financial disclosure as required by the Ethics Act. Respondent has filed a deficient Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018, which Statement of Financial Interests was to be filed [in proper form] by May 1 of 2019, Nilsen, 21-001-P Page 2 and Respondent has therefore transgressed Sections 1104 and 1105 of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. §§ 1104, 1105. 5. By Notice letter dated February 27, 2020, Respondent was served with Notice in accordance with Section 1107(5) of the Ethics Act of the specific allegations against Respondent concerning the above transgression. Said Notice letter provided Respondent an opportunity to avoid the institution of these civil penalty proceedings by filing an accurate and complete Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 within twenty (20) days of the date of the Notice letter. Respondent has failed and refused to file an accurate and complete Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 so as to comply with the specific requirements of the Ethics Act. 6. By Notice letter dated June 24, 2020, Respondent was served with Notice in accordance with Section 1107(5) of the Ethics Act of the specific allegations against Respondent concerning the above transgression. Said Notice letter provided Respondent an opportunity to avoid the institution of these civil penalty proceedings by filing an accurate and complete Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 within twenty (20) days of the date of the Notice letter. Respondent has failed and refused to file an accurate and complete Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 so as to comply with the specific requirements of the Ethics Act, 7. Section 1109(f) of the Ethics Act provides: § 1109. Penalties (f) Civil penalty. --In addition to any other civil remedy or criminal penalty provided for in this chapter, the commission may, after notice has been served in accordance with section 1107(5) (relating to powers and duties of commission) and upon a majority vote of its members, levy a civil penalty upon any person subject to this chapter who fails to file a statement of financial interests in a timely manner or who files a deficient statement of financial interests, at a rate of not more than $25 for each day such statement remains delinquent or deficient. The maximum penalty payable under this paragraph is $250. 65 Pa.C.S. § 1109(f). 8. For each violation the Commission finds, Respondent is subject to civil penalty liability under Section 1109(f) of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1109(f), at a rate of not more than $25.00 per day for each day the Statement of Financial Interests remains delinquent or deficient, for a maximum civil penalty of $250.00 per violation. Because Respondent has committed one violation alleged herein, Respondent is subject to total maximum civil penalty liability of $250.00. Nilsen, 21-001-P Page 3 9. There are no mitigating circumstances and Respondent should be assessed the maximum civil penalty of $250.00, in that the twenty -day deadline set forth in the said final Notice letter to Respondent has expired and the Respondent has not complied. II. DISCUSSION: As a Supervisor for Springfield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, James Nilsen ("Nilsen") was at all times relevant to these proceedings a "public official" subject to the provisions of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act ("Ethics Act"), 65 Pa.C.S. § 1101 et seq. Pursuant to Section 1104(a) of the Ethics Act, Nilsen was specifically required to file an accurate and complete Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 with Springfield Township on or before May 1, 2019. Section 1104(a) provides: § 1104. Statement of financial interests required to be bled (a) Public official or public employee. --Each public official of the Commonwealth shall file a statement of financial interests for the preceding calendar year with the commission no later than May 1 of each year that he holds such a position and of the year after he leaves such a position. Each public employee and public official of the Commonwealth shall file a statement of financial interests for the preceding calendar year with the department, agency, body or bureau in which he is employed or to which he is appointed or elected no later than May 1 of each year that he holds such a position and of the year after he leaves such a position. Any other public employee or public official shall file a statement of financial interests with the governing authority of the political subdivision by which he is employed or within which he is appointed or elected no later than May 1 of each year that he holds such a position and of the year after he leaves such a position. Persons who are full-time or part-time solicitors for political subdivisions are required to file under this section. 65 Pa.C.S. § 1104(a). The complete financial disclosure which Nilsen as a Supervisor for Springfield Township was required to provide in the Statement of Financial Interests form is statutorily mandated in detail at Section 1105 of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1105. Section 1109(f) of the Ethics Act provides as follows: § 1109. Penalties (f) Civil penalty.-- In addition to any other civil remedy or criminal penalty provided for in this chapter, the commission may, after notice has been served in accordance with section 1107(5) (relating to powers and duties of commission) and upon a majority vote of its members, levy a civil penalty upon any person Nilsen, 21-00I-P Page 4 subject to this chapter who fails to file a statement of financial interests in a timely manner or who files a deficient statement of financial interests, at a rate of not more than $25 for each day such statement remains delinquent or deficient. The maximum penalty payable under this paragraph is $250. 65 Pa.C.S. § 1109(f). An application of Section 1109(f) to this case establishes that this Commission has the discretion to levy a maximum civil penalty against Nilsen for the deficient Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018. The prerequisite service of Notice letter in accordance with Section 1107(5) was satisfied. Nilsen did not remedy the failure to comply with the Ethics Act although given more than the usual grace period following Notice in which to do so. The Investigative Division then instituted formal proceedings against Nilsen by filing with the State Ethics Commission and serving upon Nilsen a Petition for Civil Penalties. The Commission Chair issued an Order to Show Cause, ordering Nilsen to show cause why a civil penalty should not be levied against him. Nilsen did not file an answer to the Order to Show Cause. There is nothing of record that would constitute a defense or excuse for Nilsen's failure to comply with the Ethics Act. Nilsen has failed to show cause why a civil penalty should not be levied against him in this matter. We find that Nilsen, as a Supervisor for Springfield Township, failed to comply with Sections 1104(a) and 1105 of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. §§ 1104(a), 1105, when he filed a deficient Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 with Springfield Township. We hereby levy one maximum civil penalty against Nilsen at the rate of Twenty -Five Dollars ($25.00) per day for each day his Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 has remained deficient. Given the number of days during which the Statement of Financial Interests has remained deficient, the resultant amount to be levied against Nilsen is Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($250.00). Nilsen shall be ordered to make payment of the above civil penalty in the amount of $250.00 by no later than the thirtieth (30th) day after the mailing date of this adjudication and Order, by forwarding a check to this Commission made payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for deposit in the State Treasury. Nilsen shall be ordered to file a complete and accurate Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 with Springfield Township by no later than the thirtieth (30") day after the mailing date of this adjudication and Order, with one copy forwarded to this Commission for compliance verification purposes. 111. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW: 1. James Nilsen ("Nilsen"), as a Supervisor for Springfield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was at all times relevant these proceedings a "public official" subject to the provisions of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act ("Ethics Act"), 65 Pa.C.S. § Nilsen, 21 ••Ob 1-P Page 5 I101 et sec. 2. Nilsen, as a Supervisor for Springfield Township, failed to comply with Sections 1104(a) and 1105 of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. §§ 1104(a), 1105, when he filed a deficient Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 with Springfield Township. 3. Notice of the deficiency of Nilsen's Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 was previously served upon him in accordance with Section 1107(5) of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1107(5). 4. Based upon the totality of the circumstances in this case, a civil penalty in the total amount of $250.00 is warranted. In Re: James Nilsen, File Docket: 21-001-P Respondent Date Decided: 9/15/21 Date Mailed: 9/17/21 ORDER NO. 702-S James Nilsen ("Nilsen"), as a Supervisor for Springfield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, failed to comply with Sections I I04(a) and 1105 of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act ("Ethics Act"), 65 Pa.C.S. §§ 1104(a), 1105, when he filed a deficient Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 with Springfield Township. 2. This Commission hereby levies one maximum civil penalty against Nilsen at the rate of Twenty -Five Dollars ($25.00) per day for each day his Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 has remained deficient, for a total civil penalty of Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($250.00). Nilsen is ordered to pay said civil penalty in the total amount of $250.00 by no later than the thirtieth (301") day after the mailing date of this Order, by forwarding a check to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission made payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for deposit in the State Treasury. 3. Nilsen is ordered to file a complete and accurate Statement of Financial Interests for calendar year 2018 with Springfield Township by no later than the thirtieth (30,h) day after the mailing date of this Order, with one copy forwarded to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission for compliance verification purposes. 4. Failure to comply with Paragraph 2 or 3 of this Order will result in the initiation of an appropriate enforcement action. BY THE COMMISSION, Nicholas A. Colafella, Chair