Chapter 102-3 Advisory Opinions
(A) The commission may issue advisory opinions, as described in section 102.08 of the Revised Code related to ethics, conflicts of interest, financial disclosure, or any other topic covered by Chapter 102. of the Revised Code or section 2921.42 or 2921.43 of the Revised Code.
(B) Opinions can be formal, informal, or staff opinions.
(1) All formal advisory opinions, reviewed and voted on by the commission at an open meeting, will include the following :
(a) A syllabus summarizing the holding of the commission;
(b) A statement of facts upon which the conclusions are based. Such statement of facts need not disclose the name of any person;
(c) A discussion of the facts and the application of the law;
(d) A serial number indicating the year and the number of the advisory opinion rendered;
(e) The signature of the commission chair; and
(f) Any other requirements in the Revised Code.
(2) All informal opinions, written to an individual and reviewed and voted on by the commission at an open meeting, will include :
(a) A statement of facts upon which the conclusions are based; and
(b) A discussion of the facts and the application of the law.
(3) Staff opinions, based on prior formal or informal opinions of the commission, are not reviewed or voted on by the commission. Staff opinions will include :
(a) A statement of the facts upon which the conclusions are based;
(b) A discussion of the facts and the application of the law; and
(c) A statement that the staff opinion represents the views of the signing advisory attorney, based on the commission's past advisory opinions.
(C) Formal, informal, and staff opinions will provide the recipient, and any person similarly situated to the recipient, the immunity described in section 102.08 of the Revised Code, provided that the facts are fully disclosed and the recipient or similarly situated person fully complies with the guidance in the opinion.
(D) The commission will maintain a record of all advisory opinions rendered.
Five Year Review (FYR) Dates: 10/20/2016 and 01/31/2022
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 102.05
Rule Amplifies: 102.05, 102.07, 102.08
Prior Effective Dates: 2/23/76, 7/16/77, 6/8/81, 1/1/02, 2/26/12
(A) The commission may establish an advisory committee to assist in performing its advisory opinion authority. The advisory committee will be composed of fewer than four commission members.
(B) The advisory committee may meet as needed to perform the following activities:
(1) Review the advisory activity report reflecting recent advisory opinion requests;
(2) Review requests for opinions to be answered by the commission;
(3) Review drafts of opinions to be presented to the commission; and
(4) Other duties as assigned by the commission or chair, or as determined by the committee.
(C) The advisory committee will not issue advisory opinions, but may approve content or format changes, as directed by the commission. Drafts reviewed and approved by the advisory committee are not commission advisory opinions until they are approved by the commission.
(A) Within its resources, the commission will answer all written requests for advice related to any topic covered by Chapter 102. of the Revised Code or section 2921.42 or 2921.43 of the Revised Code submitted to the commission.
(B) The commission may acknowledge receipt of requests for advisory opinions.
(C) The commission will record all requests for advisory opinions in an annual log. The log will include:
(1) The date on which the request is received;
(2) The name of the requester;
(3) The public entity or entities involved;
(4) A brief description of the question ; and
(5) A brief summary of the response to the question.
(D) The staff will periodically review the list of requests and responses with the advisory committee and/or the commission.
(A) Within its resources, the commission may provide assistance to any person who requests guidance on questions related to any topic covered by Chapter 102. of the Revised Code or sections 2921.42 and 2921.43 of the Revised Code, including requests made through telephone calls or electronic mail.
(B) Guidance provided by the commission in a telephone call or electronic mail is not an advisory opinion, and does not provide the recipient or other similarly situated person with the immunity of a written advisory opinion described in section 102.08 of the Revised Code.
(A) The commission will review all statements filed with the commission pursuant to the requirement in division (D) of section 102.04 of the Revised Code. If a statement is incomplete, or appears to be incorrect in any way, the commission will return a copy of the statement for completion or correction by the person who filed it.
(B) A statement is considered filed with the commission for purposes of division (D) of section 102.04 of the Revised Code when a signed statement is received by the commission that contains all of the requirements of that section.
(C) The commission will send an acknowledgment of receipt to every person who files a statement reflecting the information required in division (D) of section 102.04 of the Revised Code. The acknowledgment will remind the filer to send a copy of the statement to the agency the filer serves and to the agency to which the filer is providing goods or services or before which the filer is providing services for compensation.
(A) The commission will make all of its formal advisory opinions available on its web site.
(B) The commission will provide notice to all individuals who request it whenever an advisory opinion is added to the web site and will provide a link to the opinion.
(C) The commission will maintain an index of formal advisory opinions.
(A) Any person who receives an opinion can request that the commission reconsider the matter.
(B) When requesting reconsideration, the person must provide:
(1) Facts that were not before the commission or staff when the original request was considered and that would affect the conclusion reached in the original opinion; or
(2) A reason why the holding in the original opinion should be reversed or revised.
(C) All requests for reconsideration will be reviewed by the commission in an open meeting.
(A) The purpose of the rule is to set standards and conditions for the furnishing and acceptance of travel, meals, and lodging expenses or reimbursements, to public officials or employees, from sources other than the agency that the official or employee serves, for travel to conferences, seminars, and similar events, as defined in this rule and in appendix 1 to this rule.
(B) This rule applies to any public official or employee who is subject to the jurisdiction of the Ohio ethics commission as provided in division (F) of section 102.01 of the Revised Code. This includes officials or employees of any state department, board, commission, or university, any county, city, village, township, public library, port authority, regional transit authority, or other public agency. It does not include judicial officers and employees, or members or employees of the general assembly, and employees of the legislative service commission.
(C) As used in this rule:
(1) "Travel expenses" are transportation, meal, and lodging expenses paid for or reimbursed to a public official or employee. Travel expenses include, but are not limited to, payments or reimbursements for lodging, meals, food, or beverages, air, train, or cab fare, car rentals, and parking.
(2) "Conference" is a prearranged gathering with a formal agenda, for consultation or exchange of information or discussion that benefits the state or a political subdivision of the state including a meeting of a national, state, or regional organization.
(3) "Seminar" is a meeting on a particular subject or related subjects, usually with one or more instructors or experts, for education, discussion, study, or exchange of information.
(4) "Person" is an individual, corporation, tax-exempt or non-profit organization, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, association, or governmental agency or instrumentality.
(5) A person is "interested in matters before" a public agency if the person has a definite and direct financial interest in a matter that is before the agency.
(D) A public official or employee may accept travel expenses or reimbursements if the travel is connected with a conference, seminar, or similar event that is related to the public official's or employee's official duties and is not of such a character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence on the traveler with respect to that person's duties.
(E) Travel expenses or reimbursements provided under paragraph (D) of this rule are not of such a character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence on a public official or employee if both of these factors are met:
(1) Before the official or employee agrees to travel to the conference, seminar, or similar event, the agency that the official serves or employee works for determines that:
(a) The travel is related to the official's or employee's official duties; and
(b) The travel expenses are ordinary, customary, and necessary. Travel expenses are ordinary, customary, and necessary if they do not exceed the lesser of: (i) the amount of travel expenses that the official's or employee's agency allows to be reimbursed for travel to the destination; or (ii) the per diem rate set by the United States general services administration for travel to the destination that is in effect at the time of the travel.
(2) The source of the payment for or reimbursement of the public official's or employee's travel expenses is one of the following:
(a) A person that is not doing or seeking to do business with, regulated by, or interested in matters before the public agency that the official or employee serves; or
(b) Any governmental agency; or
(c) A statewide, multi-state, or regional consortium or collaborative, of which the public agency is a member, that was created for the purpose of fulfilling or advancing the agency's statutory mandate and that does not receive more than twenty-five per cent of its financial support from any persons that are doing or seeking to do business with, regulated by, or interested in matters before the public agency that the official or employee serves; or
(d) A person using funds that were provided to him or her by grant, contract, or gift, from a person described in paragraph (E)(2)(c) of this rule if the grant or contract agreement states, or gift terms stipulate, that the funds will be used for travel expenses of public officials and employees.
(F) A public official or employee who receives travel expenses or reimbursements under this rule must disclose their source and amount either:
(1) On the annual financial disclosure statement he or she is required to file by section 102.02 of the Revised Code or as a condition of employment if he or she is required to disclose sources and amounts of travel expenses; or
(2) To the public agency he or she serves.
(G) A public official or employee who accepts travel expenses or reimbursements in compliance with division (I) of section 102.03 of the Revised Code and this rule does not violate divisions (D) or (E) of section 102.03 and division (A) of section 2921.43 of the Revised Code.
(H) Any person who provides travel expenses to a public official or employee in compliance with division (I) of section 102.03 of the Revised Code and this rule does not violate division (F) of section 102.03 and division (A) of section 2921.43 of the Revised Code.