(A) The commission may refer for settlement or compromise any complaint or charge pending before the commission or appropriate prosecuting authority. The commission will consult with the respondent, complainant and any other person the commission or the prosecuting authority considers necessary regarding the settlement referral.
(B) The commission may require the complainant to file a sworn affidavit with the commission setting forth the facts or allegations that the complainant requests the commission to consider during settlement negotiations. The complainant must serve a copy of the sworn affidavit on all parties. The commission may also require the respondent to file a sworn affidavit in response to the complainant's allegations within sixty days of the filing of complainant's affidavit with the commission.
(C) In determining whether a matter will be referred for settlement, the commission will assess the appropriateness of the referral. The commission may consider factors it deems relevant in making its assessment, including, but not limited to, the following factors:
(1) Severity of the alleged conduct including the dollar value involved in the alleged offense;
(2) Whether the alleged conduct is an isolated event or part of a repeated pattern of conduct;
(3) Whether the alleged conduct appears to indicate violations of other state or federal criminal laws;
(4) Complexity of issues or evidence alleged in the complaint or charge;
(5) Involvement of other appropriate agencies in the investigation of the respondent's conduct;
(6) Existence of commission precedent concerning the alleged or similar conduct;
(7) Prior contact of the respondent with the commission;
(8) Scope of investigation necessary to gather information;
(9) Age of the facts alleged in the complaint;
(10) Resources of the commission;
(11) Whether the respondent self-reported the potential violation; and
(12) Any other mitigating circumstances.
(A) The settlement procedures may consist of any method decided by the commission and agreed to by the parties, including, but not limited to, mediation, arbitration, negotiation, criminal plea negotiations in conjunction with the appropriate prosecuting authority, and other forms of disposition.
(B) The settlement agreement entered into under division (G)(1) of section 102.06 of the Revised Code will be in writing and accompanied by a statement of the findings of the commission or prosecuting authority and the reasons for entering into the agreement. The commission or prosecuting authority shall retain the agreement and statement in its office and, in its discretion, may make the agreement, the statement, and any supporting information public, unless the agreement provides otherwise.
(C) All papers, records, affidavits, and documents filed with the commission or relating to settlement negotiations will be sealed and are private and confidential, except as otherwise provided in section 102.06 of the Revised Code, unless the parties agree otherwise.
(D) The commission, in consultation with the parties, may establish guidelines that regulate the conduct of the settlement negotiations. The guidelines will be binding on all parties. The guidelines may contain requirements that all matters discussed in the settlement negotiations remain confidential after negotiations have ceased and that no party may compel the attendance of any commission member, employee, or agent as a witness regarding any matter discussed pursuant to the settlement negotiations.
(E) When the source of an allegation is the auditor of state's office or similar office or agency that has completed an independent factual review, the commission may elect to resolve matters through its censure process.
(1) In censure matters, the commission shall forward an initial notice to the respondent reciting the basic facts establishing a potential violation. The initial notice shall provide a timeframe within which the respondent can contact the commission with contradictory information.
(2) After giving the respondent time to refute the allegations, the investigative committee or the commission may direct staff to issue a letter of censure advising the respondent that the reported activity potentially violates the ethics law and should cease immediately. Further, the censure notice shall provide notice that continued activity in violation of the ethics law may result in a formal investigation and potential prosecution.
(A) In the event that the parties are unable to mutually agree to the terms of a settlement, the commission or prosecuting authority, in Its discretion, may reinstate any investigation, hearing, or prosecution of the respondent.
(B) In the event the settlement agreement is breached, the commission or prosecuting authority may take those actions outlined in division (G)(3) of section 102.06 of the Revised Code.