The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is an office within BEGA that investigates allegations of ethical misconduct concerning District government employees and officials. It has authority over the District government’s workforce of approximately 34,000 employees, including ethics oversight of the Mayor and the Council. Through its Director, the Office serves as the District’s ethics prosecutor and is empowered to bring enforcement proceedings before the three member BEGA which, in turn, can levy civil penalties including substantial monetary fines–up to $5,000 per violation, or three times the amount of any unlawful gift or contribution.
The OGE is made up of the Director of Government Ethics, Darrin P. Sobin, and a staff of attorneys, investigators and administrative assistants. In addition to its ethics enforcement role, OGE is also responsible for providing binding ethics advice and training to District employees; oversight of Lobbyist registration and activity; and, compliance with Financial Disclosure Statement filing requirements by high-level employees and elected officials.
Through BEGA, the OGE has expansive subpoena authority and the Director has the power to compel individuals to appear and provide testimony and/or documents. All Orders handed down by BEGA and civil penalties are enforceable in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.