Advice

One of the core functions of the Ohio Ethics Commission is to “render advisory opinions with regard to questions concerning” the Ohio Ethics Law for the public officials and employees under its jurisdiction. The Commission also provides general guidance about the law through telephone calls and e-mail. This section handles those responsibilities.

Advisory Opinions

Anyone can call or e-mail the Ethics Commission with questions about the law or opinions of the Commission. Staff cannot provide advisory opinions over the telephone or in response to an e-mail but it can provide general information or guidance. Staff can also direct callers or e-mail requesters to relevant advisory opinions, information sheets, or other helpful resources.

If you would like to review an Overview of the Law, with information sheets and other useful tools, you can go to the Ethics Education Section of this Web site.

Frequently Asked Questions

No. A public official or employee is absolutely prohibited from hiring his or her family members. The official or employee also cannot use his or her public position in any way to get someone else to hire his or her family members.

This  information sheet and  Advisory Opinion No. 2010-03 explain these restrictions more fully.

A public official’s or employee’s family members include his or her:

  • Spouse;
  • Parents and Step-parents;
  • Grandparents;
  • Children and Step-children;
  • Grandchildren; and
  • Siblings.

Also included is any other person related to the official or employee by blood or by marriage who resides in the same household with the official or employee.

This  information sheet and  Advisory Opinion No. 2010-03 explain which people are considered a public official’s family members for purposes of the restriction against hiring family members.

Yes, provided that the official took no action to hire or get someone else to hire the official. However, while they are working together, the official cannot secure any employment related benefits for his family member, such as raises, promotions, job advancement, or benefits. Further, the official cannot make decisions that benefit his or her family member related to that person’s employment, such a performance evaluations, personnel actions, and discipline.

This  information sheet and  Advisory Opinion No. 2010-03 explain the limits on a public official when his or her family members are employed by the same public agency.

No. A public official cannot act on matters that affect property the official owns.

This  information sheet and  Advisory Opinion No. 92-019 more fully explain the restrictions on a public official when a matter before his or her agency affects the official’s own property.

In most situations, no. However, the official may be able to sell things to the public agency if he can meet an exception to the public contract restriction. There are two information sheets that explain these restrictions more fully:

There are three revolving door (or post-employment) restrictions that apply most public officials and employees after they leave their public positions:

  • R.C. 102.03(A)(1)—A former public official or employee cannot represent any person before any public agency on matters in which he or she personally participated. This prohibition applies to the former public servant for one year after leaving the public position.
  • R.C. 102.03(B)—A former public official or employee cannot disclose or use confidential information he or she acquired during his or her public service. There is no time limit on this restriction.
  • R.C. 2921.42(A)(3)—A former public official or employee cannot profit from a contract that he or she authorized, or that was authorized by the public agency he or she served, unless it was competitively bid. This prohibition applies to the former public servant for one year after leaving the public position.

 This information sheet and  Advisory Opinion No. 2011-03 explain these revolving door restrictions.  Advisory Opinion No. 2012-03 and  Advisory Opinion No. 2012-04 explain the revolving door law exceptions.

There are three other post-employment restrictions that apply to small groups of former public servants:

  • PUCO Commissioners and Attorney Examiners—R.C. 102.03(A)(2);
  • Officials and employees who participated in solid or hazardous waste matters—R.C. 102.03(A)(3); and
  • Casino Control Commission Members and Employees—R.C. 102.03(A)(10).

Yes. For example, a public official or employee cannot seek a job from anyone who is doing or seeking to do business with, regulated by, or interested in matters before the public agency he or she serves.

This  information sheet explains the restrictions on job seeking more fully.

No. While he or she is serving on an agency’s governing board, a public official or employee cannot be hired by the agency. He or she also cannot even seek employment with the agency until he or she resigns from the public agency.

This  information sheet explains these restrictions more fully.

“Anything of value” is defined in the Ohio Revised Code to include money, goods, chattels, the promise of future employment, and “every other thing of value.” For more information about the term “anything of value,” check out  Advisory Opinion No. 2001-03 and  Advisory Opinion No. 2009-03.

Yes, provided that the gift is either not substantial in value or is from a source that is not doing or seeking to do business with, regulated by, or interested in matters before the public agency he or she serves. For more information, please see Accepting Gifts, Meals or Entertainment (Information Sheet #7) or the Gift and Entertainment Bulletin

Yes, within limits. For example, the official or employee cannot have a job with anyone who is doing or seeking to do business with, regulated by, or interested in matters before the public agency he or she serves. Also, while he or she has outside employment, the official or employee cannot secure benefits for himself or his business or private employer.

 Advisory Opinion No. 96-004 and  Advisory Opinion No. 2008-02 explain the restrictions on public officials and employees engaged in outside employment more fully.