Ohio’s Ethics Laws For Public Officers

Generally, Ohio Revised Code Chapter 102 governs the ethics of public officers.  In conjunction with law enforcement authorities, JLEC has jurisdiction over these laws as they pertain to the members of the general assembly and legislative employees.   In addition, each new general assembly session enacts a Code of Ethics that also governs the members of each chamber and legislative employees.  The most recent Code of Ethics was passed under House Concurrent Resolution Number 3 (132nd General Assembly).

Joint Legislative Code Of Ethics

Full Text: Joint Legislative Code Of Ethics (HCR 3)

Overview

Section 1: Conduct

All members and employees of the general assembly shall:

  • Behave so as to reflect credit upon their respective chamber
  • Conform their conduct to this Code of Ethics
Section 2: Financial Disclosure Statement

Members and staff who are required to file financial disclosure statements with JLEC must disclose the following information:

  • Travel Payments & Reimbursements: The source and amount of any payments received for travel expenses in connection with the member or staff member’s official duties (barring travel to meetings of a national organization to which dues are paid—i.e., NCSL, CSG, etc.).
  • Meal Payments & Reimbursements: The source of payments received for meals, all food & beverages, in connection with the member or staff member’s official duties that exceed $100 aggregated per year (barring meals at meetings of an organization to which dues are paid).
  • Gifts: The source of a gift/gifts from anyone where the aggregated value is more than $75 dollars per year (barring gifts from relatives), and the source of a gift/gifts from a legislative agent when the aggregated value is more than $25 per year.
Section 4: Voting Abstention
  • Members are encouraged to request permission of the chair to abstain from voting on a piece of legislation when the member has reason to believe that he/she has a personal interest in legislation.
  • Members are prohibited from voting on a piece of legislation when the member is an employee or business associate of, or has a similar relationship with a legislative agent or the employer of a legislative agent who is actively advocating on that legislation.
Section 5: Compensation

Members and staff are prohibited from accepting the following from a legislative agent:

  • Payment Of Travel Expenses: The payment of travel expenses by a legislative agent on behalf of a member or staff is prohibited, except for the payment of actual travel expenses incurred at panels, seminars, or speaking engagements at which the person is a participant.  For purposes of this prohibition, travel does not include trips by automobile where the distance traveled is less than 50 miles one way.
  • Payment Of Meals More Than $75 Per Year: Members and staff are prohibited from accepting from a legislative agent more than $75 worth of meal payments (aggregated per year) except for meals at:
    • Panels, seminars, or speaking engagements at which the person is a participant.
    • A function to which all members have been invited
  • Cash Gifts Valued At More Than $75: Members and staff are prohibited from accepting from a legislative agent a gift of any amount in the form of cash, or  a gift/gifts worth more than $75 aggregated per year.
Section 6: Confidential Information
  • Members and staff of the General Assembly are prohibited from disclosing or using for personal gain confidential information gained in the course of their official duties.
Section 7: Improper Influence
  • Members and staff are prohibited from soliciting, accepting, or using the authority of their office to secure anything of value that is of such a character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence upon that person’s official duties.
  • Members are prohibited from soliciting or receiving funds from a legislative agent for any use other than use by a political party, campaign committee, legislative campaign fund, etc. (except that a member may solicit and receive funds for certain religious or charitable organizations).
  • Members and staff are prohibited from accepting from anyone payment for travel expenses if the payment is such a character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence upon that person’s official duties.
Section 8: Staff Use
  • Members shall use staff only for official purposes for which they are employed.
Section 9: Separation of Funds
  • Members and candidates are prohibited from using campaign funds for business or personal use, except, generally for reimbursement for legitimate, verifiable, ordinary and necessary prior expenses incurred in the course of the member’s or candidate’s official duties. (i.e., anything a member/candidate would normally be expected to do as a member/candidate)
  • A member of the General Assembly may be reimbursed from campaign funds for meals and lodging expenses in Franklin County only if the expenses were not incurred when the member was in Franklin County to attend floor sessions or committee meetings, except that a member may be reimbursed for expenses for meals in Franklin County at which the member hosted other persons.
Section 10: Honoraria and Testimonials
  • Members and staff filers are prohibited from soliciting or accepting an honorarium (i.e., payment in consideration for a speech, article or attendance at a conference).  A member or employee may, however, accept payment of actual travel expenses at either (1) a panel, seminar, or speaking engagement at which the person participates, or (2) a meeting or convention of a national organization at which dues are paid.