January 19, 2012 •
Ohio Joint Legislative Ethics Committee Nixes Lawmakers and Staff from Lobbyist Ads
The Ohio Joint Legislative Ethics Committee has released Advisory Opinion 2012-001, which prohibits members and employees of the Ohio General Assembly from using their office or employment status in order to promote a registered lobbyist. In its first advisory opinion to be released since 2009, the Committee pointed to Ohio Revised Code section 102.03(D), which prohibits a public official or employee from using his or her status acquired by such position in order to secure anything of value.
The Committee opined that the use of the member or employee in his or her official capacity as Senator, Representative, or legislative staffer in an advertisement or other promotional item would result in a value to the lobbyist, thus resulting in the prohibition. Additionally, the Committee cautioned against allowing such a promotion in merely a personal capacity in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety despite no specific prohibition existing.
The opinion, which was requested by an Ohio registered lobbyist, was deemed necessary after things such as requests for quotes on websites or letters of recommendation to be sent to potential clients had been made of members and employees of the Ohio General Assembly by registered lobbyists.
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