A. In response to the signed and sworn complaint of any citizen of the Commonwealth, which is subscribed by the maker as true under penalty of perjury, submitted to the Panel, the Panel shall inquire into any alleged violation of Articles 2 (§ 30-102 et seq.) through 5 (§ 30-109 et seq.) by any member of the respective house of the General Assembly in his current term or his immediate prior term. Complaints shall be filed with the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council, which shall promptly (i) submit the complaint to the chairman of the appropriate Panel and (ii) forward a copy of the complaint to the legislator named in the complaint. The chairman shall promptly notify the Panel of the complaint. No complaint shall be filed with the Panel 60 or fewer days before a primary election or other nominating event or before a general election in which the cited legislator is running for office, and the Panel shall not accept or act on any complaint received during this period.
B. The Panel shall determine, during its preliminary investigation, whether the facts stated in the complaint taken as true are sufficient to show a violation of Articles 2 (§ 30-102 et seq.) through 5 (§ 30-109 et seq.). If the facts, as stated in the complaint, fail to give rise to such a violation, then the Panel shall dismiss the complaint. If the facts, as stated in the complaint, give rise to such a violation, then the Panel shall request that the complainant appear and testify under oath as to the complaint and the allegations therein. After hearing the testimony and reviewing any other evidence provided by the complainant, the Panel shall dismiss the complaint if the Panel fails to find by a preponderance of the evidence that such violation has occurred. If the Panel finds otherwise, it shall proceed with the inquiry.
C. If after such preliminary investigation, the Panel determines to proceed with an inquiry into the conduct of any legislator, the Panel (i) shall immediately notify in writing the individual who filed the complaint and the cited legislator as to the fact of the inquiry and the charges against the legislator and (ii) shall schedule one or more hearings on the matter. The legislator shall have the right to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, face and examine the accuser, and be represented by counsel at any hearings. In its discretion, the Panel may grant the legislator any other rights or privileges not specifically enumerated in this subsection. Once the Panel has determined to proceed with an inquiry, its meetings and hearings shall be open to the public.
D. Once the Panel determines to proceed with an inquiry into the conduct of any legislator, the Panel shall complete its investigations and dispose of the matter as provided in § 30-116 notwithstanding the resignation of the legislator during the course of the Panel's proceedings.
1987, Sp. Sess., c. 1, § 2.1-639.46; 2001, c. 844; 2003, c. 649; 2010, c. 876; 2014, cc. 792, 804.