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 Confidential Information

​2000-02 Municipal Hospital Board Member

A Municipal Hospital Board Member is not disqualified from serving on the hospital board because she owns a competing OB-GYN medical practice; she may not vote or use confidential data about the hospital's OB-GYN activities.

2002-08 County Board of Education member

A County Board of Education member may bid on a BOE contract after her term expires but may not use confidential information to her advantage.  Revolving door and prohibited representation provisions are not applicable.​

2012-17 Presiding Officer of a house of West Virginia Legislature

  • May not be retained to provide legal services to an Association which is actively engaged in lobbying Legislature on behalf of its members who are public employees.
  • Proposed employment contract presents an inescapable conflict, given the unique position held and power wielded by the presiding officer.
  • Access to confidential information may have chilling effect on other legislators, if proposed employment contract permitted.
  • Public may perceive that Association has hired him because of his unique ability to influence legislation. 
  • Other Associations that do not employee a high ranking member of the Legislature may believe that they are at a disadvantage in the legislative process. 
  • Opinion limited to Presiding Officers of houses of West Virginia Legislature.​
2012-25 State Employee
  • May represent clients before his former agency upon his departure from government without waiting one year.
  • One-year limitation does not apply because position not created by law, oath of office not taken and employee is not a full-time staff attorney or accountant.
  • May register as lobbyist upon his departure from government without waiting one year since he is not under direct supervision of member of Executive Department.
 2012-36 State Employee
  • May contract with State of West Virginia to compile official papers of former Governor.
  • Does not have control over contract.
  • Does not have access to confidential information related to contract award.
  • May not use public resources, including Requester’s own time and subordinate staff, to perform the duties of the contract.
2012-38 Part-time Appointed Member of a Review Commission
  • May provide referral list of names of companies and individuals as prospective buyers to owners of distressed properties appearing before Review Commission.
  • May, if Review Commission unable to assist in facilitating sale of distressed property (despite providing list of prospective buyers), as part-time appointed public official, purchase property from interested person subject to the foloowing limitations:
  • May not use confidential information acquired in course of official duties to further own personal interests or the interests of another person; and
  • Must recuse self from all matters relating to subject property.
2013-03 Solid Waste Authority
  • Member/banker who has been directly involved in approving loans for Board Member/waste hauler within past 12 months must recuse himself from matters affecting Member/waste hauler, unless he is affected as member of class of five or more.
  • If Member/banker is only a bank board member who has not been directly involved with loans to Member/waste hauler, then recusal is not required. 
2013-11 State Legislator
  • State Legislator may not sponsor legislation relating to issue upon which he advised a client of his private law practice prior to his election to Legislature when bill uniquely affects his client, rather than class of five or more.
  • Presiding Officer determines whether to excuse Legislator from voting.
2013-30 State Agency Commissioner
  • The Ethics Act prohibits the Commissioner of a State Agency that promotes and regulates live dog and horse racing throughout the state from retaining a 20% ownership interest in a horse that will compete in WV. (This commissioner would be subject to regulations which he/she is charged with enforcing, creating a conflict of interest.)
  • WV Code § 6B-2-5(k) states there can be no participation in rate making or licensing where the ownership interest is greater than 10%.
  • WV Code § 6B-2-5(j) prohibits public servants from voting on matters in which they have a financial interest; therefore the State Agency Commissioner is prohibited from voting on matters related to horse racing.
  • The Commissioner of this State Agency is privy to confidential information, and must avoid the appearance of impropriety, or unfair advantage over other horse owners.
2013-39 Former State Employee
  • The Ethics Act contains a one-year “cooling off” period which prohibits certain high-ranking government officials and employees from registering as Lobbyists for one year following their departure from government. The Ethics Commission has no statutory authority to grant exemptions.
  • This former employee, as general counsel to an agency under the Executive Department, did not report directly to the Governor and was not directly supervised by his staff.  Employee reported directly to a Cabinet Secretary and Deputy Secretary for Legal Services.
  • The Ethics Act’s revolving door prohibition is inapplicable to this former state employee, but he may not use or reveal any confidential information from his past position.
2013-54 State Agency Employee
Staff attorneys for a State Agency may serve as Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys. The salary for the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney was not paid by the county Prosecutor’s Office, but by the State Agency. Therefore there is no prohibited private gain and the use of acquired information does not constitute knowing and improper disclosure.

2014-08 Appointed Member of County Solid Waste Authority
  • May, in his/her private capacity, bring a civil suit against the authority on whose board he/she serves, with limitations.
  • Member must recuse him/herself from deliberations or votes related to his/her lawsuit, as he/she has a direct financial interest in the litigation, and is a party to the litigation. Member is further prohibited from discussing, deliberating, or voting on waste hauling certificates of convenience and necessity by the Public Service Commission, the subject matter of the lawsuit.
  • Member is further prohibited from participating in the authority’s development of any plan regarding related matters, unless done as a member of a class of five or more similarly situated parties.
  • Member must not use his/her public position to further his/her private interests, must not use confidential information obtained through his/her public position to further private interests, and may not informally communicate with fellow appointed members of the authority to influence voting related to the lawsuit.​
2014-18 Retired State Agency Employee
May accept a new position with a private consulting firm which contracts with his/her former employer, with limitations. The retired employee may not improperly disclose confidential information or use it for his/her own or another’s personal interests. Revolving door restrictions do not apply, because the retired employee’s state agency position was not created by law, was not appointed by the governor, and was not either the position of attorney or accountant. If the retired employee must appear before his/her former agency, he/she must first seek the agency’s approval to do so.  

2021-22​ City Council Member

​The Ethics Act does not prohibit a governing body from barring audio recordings of executive sessions of public meetings.  The Ethics Act also does not prohibit a public official from audio recording executive sessions, but the recording may not be improperly disclosed or used to further the official's own interests or the interests of another person if it contains confidential information.