Formal Advisory Opinions

The Commission may issue advisory opinions related to ethics, conflicts of interest, financial disclosure, and any other topic over which it has jurisdiction. More information about the Commission’s advisory process can be found on the Advice homepage.

Formal Advisory Opinions are issued to address a hypothetical situation applicable to a broad group of people and contain a syllabus summarizing the holding of the Commission. The Commission reviews and approves Formal Advisory Opinions during an open meeting. Formal Advisory Opinions discuss the relevant facts on which the conclusions of the Commission are based, the application of the law, and contain the signature of the Commission chair.

All advisory opinions provide individuals, and any person similarly situated, with both criminal and civil immunity as described in Section 102.08(B) of the Revised Code and Ohio Administrative Code 102-3-01(C).

Search The Formal Advisory Opinion Archive

All of the Commission’s previously issued Formal Advisory Opinions are available here. In order to read these opinions, you will need a PDF viewer.

The archive is searchable by opinion number or keyword. For example, searching for family will return all Formal Advisory Opinions containing the word family.

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Formal Advisory Opinions addressing frequently searched topics

Browse The Formal Advisory Opinion Archive

Formal Advisory Opinions are organized by year in the order in which they are written. From 1974 to 1999, the Formal Advisory Opinion number format is YR-###. From 2000, the Formal Advisory Opinion number format is 20##-##. For example:

  • Formal Advisory Opinion No. 74-005 is the fifth Formal Advisory Opinion that the Commission issued in 1974.
  • Formal Advisory Opinion No. 2004-02 is the second Formal Advisory Opinion that the Commission issued in 2004.

Overruled and Obsolete Formal Advisory Opinions

Some of the Formal Advisory Opinions that have been issued by the Ethics Commission since 1974 have been overruled or rendered obsolete. In some instances, the Commission overruled a determination that it had made in a previously issued Formal Advisory Opinion when the pertinent statutes had not been amended, but the Commission saw a need to reexamine its earlier analysis. In other instances, the Commission had to overrule its precedent because of a statutory amendment or enactment that was relevant to the issue. Finally, some Formal Advisory Opinions are irrelevant because they address obsolete agencies or one-time issues that arose during the Commission’s formative years.

 Adv. Op. No. 74-004 - Determination that 1) members of a county board of elections are state officers, who are subject to R.C. 102.04(A) because they are appointed by the Secretary of State but are not county officers, who are subject to R.C. 102.04(C) and 2) established a test for when a person is “appointed to an office”.

1) Overruled by  Adv. Op. No. 93-004, which explains that for purposes of R.C. 102.04, a member of a county board of elections can be deemed to be both a state and county officer due to his unique position, and 2) Modified by  Adv. Op. No. 75-004, which determined that whether a person exercises “sovereign power” is an additional and essential criterion for determining if someone is “appointed to an office.”

 Adv. Op. No. 74-007 - Determination that members of a county board of elections are state officers, who are subject to R.C. 102.04(A) because they are appointed by the Secretary of State but are not county officers, who are subject to R.C. 102.04(C).

Overruled by  Adv. Op. No. 93-004, which explains that for purposes of R.C. 102.04, a member of a county board of elections can be deemed to be both a state and county officer due to his unique position.

 Adv. Op. No. 74-009 - Determination that a member of a municipal planning commission is not prohibited from receiving a distributive share of partnership profits for services rendered by a business partner in a matter before the commission.

Overruled by  Adv. Op. No. 89-016, which explains that the enactment of R.C. 102.03(E) in 1986 prohibits a public official from accepting a distributive share of fees paid by clients for services rendered by business partners on matters before his public agency.

 Adv. Op. No. 75-009 - Determination that a County Library District is a political subdivision.

Repealed by  Adv. Op. No. 76-014, which upholds the conclusion that a County Library District is a political subdivision but provides additional analysis.

 Adv. Op. No. 75-022 - Determination that a member of the Ohio Board of Regents is not a “public official or employee” as defined in R.C. 102.01(B) and not subject to R.C. 102.03.

Inapplicable due to a subsequent amendment to R.C. 102.01(B).

 Adv. Op. No. 75-023 - Determination that the Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture can issue licenses to a corporation in which he and his immediate family have sold goods and services totaling less than $1000 in the year preceding the license application.

Inapplicable due to a subsequent amendment to R.C. 102.03(C).

 Adv. Op. No. 75-024 - Determination that a member of a city civil service commission is not a “public official or employee” as defined in R.C. 102.01(B) and not subject to R.C. 102.03.

Inapplicable due to a subsequent amendment to R.C. 102.01(B).

 Adv. Op. No. 75-025 - Determination that a member of the Ohio Student Loan Commission, who is a lawyer, is not prohibited by R.C. 102.04(A) from receiving a distributive share of partnership profits from services rendered by his partners in matters which are before state agencies, including his own.

Overruled by  Adv. Op. No. 89-016, which explains that the enactment of R.C. 102.03(E) in 1986 prohibits a public official from accepting a distributive share of fees paid by clients for services rendered by business partners on matters before his public agency.

 Adv. Op. No. 75-027 - Determination that a faculty member who is employed by the University of Cincinnati is not an employee of a state institution.

Inapplicable due to statutory change.

 Adv. Op. No. 75-029 - Determination that a school board member is not a “public official or employee” as defined in R.C. 102.01(B) and not subject to R.C. 102.03.

Inapplicable, in part, due to a subsequent amendment to R.C. 102.01(B). The holding of this opinion requiring State Board of Education members to file a financial disclosure statements is valid and codified in R.C. 102.02(A)(1). For further details, please visit the Financial Disclosure page.

 Adv. Op. No. 75-030 - Determination that a person may serve in compensated positions as a city councilman and a volunteer firefighter in the same city.

Overruled by  Adv. Op. No. 91-002, which explains that amendments to the Ethics Law prohibit an elected officer of a political subdivision from simultaneously holding compensated employment with the officer’s own political subdivision. See also  Adv. Op. No. 2001-01.

 Adv. Op. No. 75-032 - Determination that a city council member must file a financial disclosure statement for the entire calendar year after leaving office in the beginning of January.

Modified by  Adv. Op. No. 2018-01, which explains that any state elected officer, and certain staff members, who leave office in early January must file a financial disclosure statement on or before May 15th of that year. For further details please visit the Financial Disclosure page.

 Adv. Op. No. 75-035 - Determination that a member of a municipal civil service commission is prohibited by R.C. 102.04(B) from receiving compensation for services rendered by him personally in any matter which is before any agency of that municipal corporation, excluding the courts.

Inapplicable due to a subsequent amendment enacting R.C. 102.04(D), which provides an exception for matters before an agency of the municipal corporation other than the one upon which he serves.

 Adv. Op. No. 76-001 - Determination that R.C. 102.04 does not prohibit a member of a county public defender commission from practicing law before the courts in the county.

Cautioned by  Inf. Adv. Op. No. 2009-INF-1104 (Newman), stating that the Informal Advisory Opinion did not overrule  Adv. Op. No. 76-001, but noted that significant statutory changes had been enacted since it was issued.

 Adv. Op. No. 80-007 - Determination that property owners whose property will benefit from infrastructure improvements have a prohibited “interest” in a public contract for purposes of R.C. 2921.42.

Overruled by  Adv. Op. No. 92-013, which explains that the owner of the company that performs the work for the improvement has a definite and direct interest in a public contract, but that the interest of a property owner whose property benefits from the improvement is a thing of value for purposes of R.C. 102.03(D) and (E), but not definite and direct interest in a public contract for purposes of R.C. 2921.42.

 Adv. Op. No. 85-003 - Determination that a public official who is covered by health insurance that his spouse receives as an employee of his political subdivision has a prohibited interest in his spouse’s contract of employment with his political subdivision for purposes of R.C. 2921.42.

Overruled by  Adv. Op. No. 92-017, which explains that a board of education member whose spouse is employed by the district can be covered by health insurance that his spouse receives as a district employee pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement provided that the board member does not use his authority or influence to authorize the collective bargaining agreement.

 Adv. Op. No. 85-007 - Determination that a county treasurer is not prohibited from serving on the board of directors of a bank that is a depository for county funds in all circumstances.

Overruled by  Adv. Op. No. 2004-02, which explains that the enactment of R.C. 102.03 (D) and (E) would render the treasurer unable to perform statutorily mandated duties if the treasurer served on the board of directors of a bank that is a depository for county funds.

 Adv. Op. No. 86-004 - Determination that a member of a regional authority who is a partner in a private law firm is not prohibited from receiving a distributive share of partnership profits generated by the representation of a client by another member of the firm on a matter before the authority.

Overruled by  Adv. Op. No. 89-016, which explains that the enactment of R.C. 102.03(E) in 1986 prohibits a public official from accepting a distributive share of fees paid by clients for services rendered by business partners on matters before his public agency.

 Adv. Op. No. 86-011 - Determination that the exception in R.C. 102.03(I) did not allow an official or employee of a public agency to accept travel expenses or reimbursement from prohibited sources for any reason.

Overruled, in part, by Ohio Adm. Code 102-3-08 Appx. A., which permits an official or employee to accept travel expenses from certain otherwise prohibited sources when all the requirements of Ohio Adm. Code 102-3-08 are met.

 Adv. Op. No. 89-003 - Determination that a public official or employee who participated in certain solid or hazardous waste matters under R.C. Chapters 343. or 3734. is prohibited from representing an owner or operator of a Facility, as defined in R.C. 3734.01, before any public agency for twenty-four months after leaving government services on any matter.

Overruled, in part, by  Adv. Op. No. 91-003, which explains that the amendment to R.C. 102.03(A) prohibits the public official or employee from representing the Facility owner or operator on a matter that the public official or employee personally participated.

 Adv. Op. No. 92-003 - Determination that a city law director is prohibited from hiring his or her business associates as assistant law directors.

Overruled by  Inf. Adv. Op. No. 2003-INF-0508-2 (Stergios), which explains that the opinion’s conclusion is inapplicable, in part, due to subsequent statutory amendments to R.C. 2921.421, R.C. 309.06, and R.C. 733.621.

 Adv. Op. No. 93-001 - Determination that a stockholder occupies a “position of profit” in the corporation’s contracts for purposes of R.C. 2921.42(A)(3).

Overruled by  Adv. Op. No. 2009-05, which explains that when a public official who owns less than one percent of the stock in a publicly traded corporation and has no other financial or fiduciary connection to the corporation, his profit as a stockholder cannot be definitely and directly linked to the performance of any of the corporation’s individual contracts.

 Adv. Op. No. 95-005 - Determination that the exception in R.C. 102.03(I) did not allow an official or employee of a public agency to accept travel expenses or reimbursement from prohibited sources for any reason.

Overruled, in part, by Ohio Adm. Code 102-3-08 Appx. A., which permits an official or employee to accept travel expenses from certain otherwise prohibited sources when all the requirements of Ohio Adm. Code 102-3-08 are met.

 Adv. Op. No. 2003-01 - Determination that a community school governing board member was not subject to all aspects of the Ethics Law.

Overruled by  Adv. Op. No. 2010-01, which explains that the amendment of R.C. 3114.03(A)(11)(e) removed the previously applicable exception and required community school governing board members comply with the Ethics Law.

 Adv. Op. No. 2010-03 - Determination that a school district could not hire the family members of a school superintendent provided as an example of an official statutorily required to participate in the hiring process.

Now inapplicable due to subsequent amendment to R.C. 3319.07.