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.
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.
A public official’s or employee’s family members include his or her:
- Parents and Step-parents;
- Children and Step-children;
- Grandchildren; and
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.
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.
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 Post-Employment 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 Job Seeking 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 Board Member Seeking Employment Information Sheet explains these restrictions more fully.
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 this Accepting Gifts, Meals or Entertainment Information Sheet 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.