The Cook County Board of Commissioners last week passed an ethics ordinance that places limits on campaign contributions from contractors working with the county, including bond firms.

"This ordinance applies to all elected officials and employees in Cook County and ensures that all public officials be independent and impartial and that public office not be used for personal gain," board president Richard Phelan said in a press release.

Under the ordinance that takes effect Sept. 1, county officials can receive no more than $1,500 from any firm that seeks to do business with the county or that currently has a contract with the county. In an election year, the limit will be raised to $3,000. Individuals with a firm would be subject to separate $1,500 and $3,000 limits, according to county officials.

County employees and officials will also be barred from accepting gifts in return for advice or assistance on county business. In addition, former county workers will be barred for one year after leaving their positions from participating in county business in which they were involved as employees.

The ordinance also requires county employees and elected officials to disclose all gifts worth more than $50. Employees and officials may accept gifts with a value greater than $125 only if they donate them to a neighborhood, community, or civic organization, according to the ordinance.

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