Advisory Opinion No. 2009-06, Ohio Ethics Law and Stimulus Funds

The new advisory opinion, effective Oct. 30, 2009, addresses the issue of whether Ohio Ethics Law and related statutes apply to public officials and employees who are involved in the allocation and use of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus Bill) funds. The answer is yes. For purposes of the Ohio Ethics Law and statutes that govern conflicts of interest in public contracting, purchases and payments made pursuant to the federal Stimulus Bill are public contracts and constitute substantial things of value.

Public contract restrictions contained in Ohio Revised Code (RC) Section 2921.42 and conflict of interest restrictions contained in RC 102.03(D) and (E) prohibit public officials and employees from authorizing, using their positions to secure the authorization of, or otherwise participating in, any allocation of Stimulus Bill funds to the officials or employees or their family members or business associates.

This advisory opinion applies to all individuals who are elected or appointed to, or employed by, any public agency, including a school district regardless of whether the person is: (1) compensated or uncompensated; (2) serving full time or part time; or (3) serving in a temporary or permanent position.

The following is a link to a complete copy of the advisory opinion:

Posted by OSBA Legal Ledger on 12/11/2009