Veterans and Military Families Caucus of the Democratic Party of New Mexico Code of Conduct
This Code of Conduct, prefaced by our Statement of Veterans and Military Families Caucus (VMFC) Values, is the common bond that unifies us all.
The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to define the standards of behavior expected of all members of the Caucus to ensure that the VMFC remains effective, reputable, and mission focused.
Our Statement of Values is based on the values of each of the branches of military service, with which we are familiar. We live and serve with these values as our guide:
LOYALTY and COMMITMENT – We support our leaders and our fellow caucus members. We show respect toward all people and treat each other with dignity. We are mindful of constant improvement as we work together in harmony to improve ourselves and our interactions with others. We are committed to pursuing our mission of helping veterans and military families.
RESPECT AND SELFLESS SERVICE – We apply the discipline to follow rules, exhibit self-control and display respect for the beliefs, authority and worth of others. Respect allows us to appreciate the best in other people. Self-respect results from knowing you have put forth your best effort. We put the welfare of the VMFC organization and its members before our own personal desires. We participate wholeheartedly without thought of recognition or gain.
HONOR AND INTEGRITY – We endeavor to be a living example of our values in everything we do, and to do what is right, legally, and morally, and say nothing that deceives or demeans others. We conduct ourselves in the highest ethical manner in all that we do, take responsibility for our actions, and keep our word. We fulfill or exceed our legal and ethical responsibilities in our public and personal lives. We do not tolerate illegal or improper behavior in ourselves or others. We are mindful of the privilege to serve our fellow Democrats and veterans and military families. We act responsibly and hold ourselves and our fellow VMFC members accountable.
COURAGE – We display the mental, moral, and physical strength that carries us through challenges and adversity and aids in overcoming fear. Courage is the inner strength that enables us to do what is right, to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure. We have the courage to face fear or adversity with patience and grace, choosing the right path, even if taking those actions is not popular with others. We stand up for and act upon the things that we know are honorable.
EXCELLENCE – With these values as our guide and excellence as our goal, we pursue continual improvement in self and service to support veterans and military families. We strive to be a force multiplier in pursuit of the VMFC goals.
Section I. General Application
The VMFC of the Democratic Party of New Mexico (DPNM), in order to create a more orderly, welcoming, cooperative and inclusive environment, hereby establishes this Code of Conduct applicable to every member, including members holding elected or appointed positions within the VMFC.
This Code of Conduct is established by the Executive Committee and shall be subject to periodic review and amendment as needed to address situations that may arise. Each amended version of this Code of Conduct shall supersede and replace all previous versions.
Any form of discrimination, bullying, harassment, disrespect, or theft by any VMFC officer or member is prohibited and shall be subject to corrective action, which may include, but is not limited to, censure, suspension, removal from elected or appointed office, or removal from the VMFC. Additionally, depending on the severity of the violation, filing of civil or criminal procedures may be pursued.
Elected and appointed officers of the VMFC will strive to conduct themselves in an ethical and professional manner at all times and shall not use their office for personal gain or benefit.
In recognition of the various ways in which we now interact, both in person, virtually, and online, this Code of Conduct is intended to include every type of interaction and communication between members and in public appearances representing the VMFC. This includes the use of electronic communication, Zoom, phones, tablets and computers and all social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
This Code of Conduct is intended to augment and support the Code of Conduct of the DPNM which may establish rules or policies that regulate the conduct of members.
Section 2 – Definitions
To aid members in understanding what is deemed inappropriate behavior, the following definitions are established:
Discrimination – the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their actual or perceived race, color, creed, sex, age, national origin, economic status, religion, ethnic identity, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical appearance or disability.
Bullying – an action or series of actions intended to demean, intimidate, coerce or humiliate an individual. Bullying can be verbal, physical, or via social media. It includes but is not limited to: name calling, threatening to cause physical or social harm, spreading rumors, embarrassing someone in public, or making any kind of unwanted physical contact.
Cyberbullying – the use of personal interactions or communication to bully a person typically involving a real or perceived power imbalance. Such interactions may include, but are not limited to, sending messages or engaging in activity of an intimidating or threatening nature. It is repeated, unwanted, aggressive behavior that may include electronic technology such as cell phones, tablets and social media sites.
Harassment – verbal, physical, or sexual conduct intended to threaten, terrorize, or intimidate. These actions may be repeated persistent attacks or abuse to achieve the desired effect of superiority.
Disrespect – to display or express contempt, lack of regard or respect for another person or their opinions or contributions to the VMFC; to insult or gossip or spread or incite disrespect among VMFC members toward another.
Theft – refers to the criminal theft of a person’s or VMFC’s assets. Assets include promotional material, equipment, monetary donations to the VMFC, and any items purchased by the VMFC for Caucus use. As per VMFC Bylaws, all VMFC loaned equipment and any purchased assets must be returned to the Caucus at the end of an elected or appointed officer’s term of service.
Section 3 – Reporting
Any alleged breach of this Code of Conduct shall first be reported in writing to the VMFC Chair. The report may be submitted by the person who is the object of the unwanted behavior, or an observer of the behavior, within 7 days of the offending incident. If a reporting deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday, an individual shall have until the close of the next business day to submit their claim.
Any report of improper behavior should include as much detail as applies to the complaint. If possible, specific citations from this policy should be included to help determine the scope and focus of an investigation. Any allegation in violation of this Code of Conduct must contain documented evidence in writing, along with the names of any corroborating witnesses of the misconduct. The report and supporting documentation must be delivered either in person, by first class mail, or by email. Verbal reports, voicemails, text messages, or any means other than described in this document shall not be considered valid reporting methods.
Any allegation made against the VMFC Chair shall be referred to any officer of the Executive Committee, including the Secretary and Treasurer.
Reporting physical battery or sexual assault shall not be subject to any time limitation. Allegations of felony assault must include a copy of the documented complaint filed with the proper law enforcement authorities. Any elected or appointed VMFC officer who is alleged to have committed physical battery or sexual assault shall immediately be suspended from continuing the duties of such office pending the outcome of an investigation of the complaint. Upon resolution of the complaint, the Executive Committee shall have the authority to determine whether or not the suspension shall continue and what, if any, further corrective action is required.
Reporting theft shall not be subject to any time limitation. Allegations of theft must include a copy of the documented complaint filed with the proper law enforcement authorities. Any active elected or appointed VMFC officer who is alleged to have committed theft shall immediately be suspended from continuing the duties of such office pending the outcome of an investigation of the complaint. Upon resolution of the complaint, the Executive Committee shall have the authority to determine whether or not the suspension shall continue and what, if any, further corrective actions is required.
Section 4 – Investigations
Within 48 hours of the receipt of a complaint, the VMFC Chair shall appoint a three-person panel to investigate and determine the validity of the allegations, and to make recommendations for corrective action. Where allegations are made against the Chair, any member of the Executive Committee, including the Secretary and Treasurer, shall have responsibility for forming the investigative panel.
Each member chosen to be a part of the panel shall have been a member of the DPNM and the VMFC for at least 30 days prior to appointment. Care must be taken to ensure diverse and impartial representation.
The panel may meet in person or use Zoom or similar teleconference equipment. The panel shall be afforded 14 days to investigate and make a recommendation regarding either dismissal of the claimed allegation or recommended disciplinary actions. The panel will be required to come to a majority agreement on a proposed resolution of the complaint.
The panel shall compile a report of their findings, including recommendations for either dismissal or corrective actions, if any, and submit the report and supporting documentation to the Chair or the member of the Executive Committee who initiated the investigation. If an investigation deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday, the panel shall have until the close of the next business day to complete their investigation and submit their report.
Section 5 – Due Process
Any officer or member accused of a violation of this Code of Conduct shall have the right to submit a written statement refuting the allegations and/or explaining the conduct called into question. After submission of a written statement refuting the allegations, a person may request to present their case directly to the three-member panel. Depending on the severity of the allegations and discussion with the full Executive Committee, a ‘live’ meeting may be scheduled either in person or via Zoom. A decision of by the VMFC on a Code of Conduct complaint is appealable to the DPNM Judiciary Committee.
Section 6 – Resolution of Complaints
The panel’s report must be approved by the VMFC Executive Committee by a majority vote of those members present. Any report recommending dismissal of the complaint or corrective action shall be effective upon issuance and approval of the report. For offenses where the recommended corrective action is censure, suspension, or removal, the following guidelines are established:
Censure – a censure is any written statement reprimanding or condemning an individual’s action. Censure is appropriate for minor infractions where disciplinary action is determined to be applicable.
Suspension – a suspension is any period whereby an individual is barred from participating in any VMFC events, gatherings, or from serving in their elected or appointed capacity with the VMFC. Any suspension may include a 120-day probation period whereby the offending member shall be immediately removed from their office or position in the VMFC should they violate the terms of their suspension. Suspension is appropriate for more serious infractions.
Removal – a removal is the permanent dismissal of an individual from their position within the VMFC and prohibits them from attending official VMFC functions or events. Any individual removed from office will be prevented from holding VMFC office for a period of not less than 3 years. The Executive Committee may make an appointment by vote to fill a vacancy created by removal. Removal is appropriate for the most serious infractions.
This Code of Conduct becomes effective immediately upon approval by a majority of the members of the VMFC Executive Committee at a meeting called for such purpose.
Approved by the Executive Committee of the VMFC, DPNM on 7 Dec 2022