2002-02 County Board of Education
A County Board of Education may contract with a hospital that employs a BOE member to provide drug testing when there is no other alternative. Contract is permissible under the Ethics Act because employment is not prohibited. (Note: Superseded by 2002 amendment to W. Va. Code § 61-10-15 creating an exception for public officials and public employees who are employees of suppliers and vendors).
2002-03 County Commissioner
A County Commissioner may work for a non-profit hospital that may receive county funding because the hospital is not a public agency and does not have public employment contracts. (But see Advisory Opinion 2021-10 (prohibiting contract with non-profit CVB.)
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.
2002-09 County Board of Education
A County Board of Education may award a contract to the hospital where a member’s spouse is employed under the Ethics Act, and pursuant to the “salaried employee” exception in W. Va. § 61-10-15(e).
2002-10 County Board of Education
A County Board of Education may contract with the superintendent's wife's employer due to the 2002 exception for salaried employees, in W. Va. Code § 61-10-15(e). The superintendent's ministerial actions of signing checks and other non-discretionary routine logistical matters are not enough to bar the contract.
2002-11 County Solid Waste Authority candidate
A County Solid Waste Authority candidate may join the Authority’s Board while it continues to pay off a pre-existing debt owed to the candidate's spouse, so long as there is no modification to the terms of the payoff.
2002-15 County Board of Education
A County Board of Education may buy building materials from a retailer who bought the materials from a BOE member’s employer because the member’s financial interest is fixed and immutable when he makes the sale to the retailer. (But, see Advisory Opinion 2017-11).
2002-17 County Board of Education
A County Board of Education may buy school supplies from the company that employs the BOE Treasurer’s spouse as a sales representative. Contract provision of the Ethics Act does not apply to spouses, and W. Va. Code § 61-10-15 (e), the salaried employee exception, applies to spouses.
2002-19 State Board
A State Board may not lease office space from its executive director; but was granted an exemption due to financial hardship to the Board.
2002-20 State Board
A State Board may not lease office space from its executive director; but was granted an exemption due financial hardship to the Board.
2003-01 Town Council
A Town Council may not contract with its mayor to lease property for the city hall. Granted contract exemption, however, because it would have created an undue hardship on the Town to bar it from leasing the property.
2003-06 County Prosecutor
A County Prosecutor, in most situations, may not sell property to the County Commission under W. Va. Code § 61-10-15. In this non-precedential opinion, the Commission allowed the sale because there was no other option. (Note: In 2006, the Legislature gave the Commission the power to grant contract exemptions under § 61-10-15.) The Ethics Act does not prohibit this sale, subject to proper recusal.
2003-07 County Farmland Protection Board Member
A County Farmland Protection Board member may participate in a public farmland program in which the participants receive compensation from the Farmland Board to use their private land for agriculture. The member must recuse himself. Opinion limited to the particular facts of that case.
2003-08 County Commission
A County Commission, in most situations, may not buy property from a financial institution on whose board a Commissioner sits. In this non-precedential opinion, the Commission allowed the sale because of the unique nature of the property. (Note: In 2006, the Legislature gave the Commission the power to grant contract exemptions under § 61-10-15.)
2004-02 Board of Education Member
A Board of Education member may work for a private licensed child care center for which the BOE provides pre-kindergarten teachers as part of a collaborative federal program.
2004-08 School Superintendent
School Superintendent has control over all of a school system's financial transactions. He had a de minimis financial interest in the school system's credit union. (non-precedential)
2004-10A and 2004-10B County Board of Education
A County Board of Education member may not work for a multi-county vocational school for three counties where the counties jointly operate the vocational school through a seven-member board which includes a Board Member and School Superintendent from each county.
2004-12 Board of Education
A Board of Education may not buy crushed stone from a company owned by a member's spouse and brother-in-law. While the revenues from potential sales to the BOE represent a limited percentage of the total revenues of the company, they are still more than de minimis.
2004-14 State Board
A State Board may not lease a storage unit from the executive director without a contract exemption.
2004-20 Town Council
The Town Council may not contract with the spouse of the mayor to perform repair work on the town's water lines. Granted contract exemption, however, due to four other contractors turning down the project.
A City may not purchase real property to use as a public street from a council person without a contract exemption. Contract exemption was granted based on hardship.
2004-27 Public Service District
A Public Service District may not, under W. Va. Code § 61-10-15, renegotiate a loan from a bank whose president serves on the PSD. (The part-time appointed exception under the Ethics Act applies to PSD members).
2004-10A and 2004-10B County Board of Education Member
A County Board of Education member may not work for a multi-county vocational school for three counties where the counties jointly operate the vocational school through a seven-member board which includes a Board Member and School Superintendent from each county.
2007-03 County Assessor
Continued employment of Assessor’s fiancé' in Assessor’s Office following marriage to County Assessor would not violate (d) but would violate W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.
2007-08 Public School Teacher
May enter into vending services contract with school system by which he is employed.
2007-11 Municipal Utilities Commission Board Member
Commission may contract with company owned by part-time appointed Board Member to install water tank, provided Member is recused.
2008-08 City Attorney
Conflict would arise from spouse's business contracting with city
Full-time City attorney is equivalent to a General Counsel or Prosecuting Attorney with inherent authority over municipal contracting.
2008-10 County Commissioner
Contract between County Airport Authority and business owned by County Commissioner not subject to prohibition where Commissioner does not serve on Airport Authority (but see 61-10-15)
2009-08 Board of Directors of State Agency--overruled, in part, by Advisory Opinion 2017-22
2009-11 Board of Education / Assistant Principal
- Board members associated with entities which may have financial interest in Agency's contracts may not serve on subcommittee which reviews and recommends funding proposals.
- Board members associated with entities which may have financial interest in Agency's contracts may continue to serve on Board, but must recuse themselves from discussion, deliberation and decision-making on matters related to those entities with which they are associated.
2010-03 County Board of Education Candidate
- Assistant Principal is subject to the prohibitions in § 61-10-15.
- Assistant Principal has voice, influence, or control over subject Board of Education contract affecting his school by virtue of his responsibility to oversee all school activities at his school.
- Board of Education may not contract with Assistant Principal's private business to provide after-school driver's education program to County students.
- Spouse of county BOE member may be employed as chief mechanic, a service position that meets the exception in W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.
- May not use position to obtain, increase or promote the interests of spouse as a BOE employee.
2010-04 County Board of Education Member
- Board may contract with a private non-profit when one of the BOE members sits on the Board of the non-profit so long as the common Board member does not vote on any matters relating to the non-profit and recuses himself from the decision-making process and vote. (This portion overruled by AO 2011-12; common Board member is no longer required to recuse himself and may vote.)
- May not use position to obtain, increase or promote the interests of spouse as a BOE employee.
2010-06 Public Library
- Ethics Act's prohibition against interest in public contract does not apply to part-time appointed official.
- Board member whose law firm represents library may serve on the board but must recuse himself from all matters related to the law firm's contract.
- Board member of public library created by Special Act of the Legislature and joint venture of county and city entities is not subject to W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.
2010-10 Board of Directors of a County Authority
Ethics Act does not prohibit part time appointed officials from bidding at auction on items sold by Board on which they serve so long as they recuse themselves from all related matters, but W. Va. Code § 61-10-15 prohibits part-time appointed officials from bidding at auction on items sold by a board on which they serve.
2010-14 County Board of Education Member
Regarding sales to schools and booster clubs from his restaurant.
2010-15 County Board of Education Member
2010-16 County Board of Education Member
- County BOE member may not be paid to officiate as a sports official in his own county.
- County BOE member may volunteer as a referee and receive $1 to obtain insurance coverage.
- County BOE member may contract with State Department of Education for online teaching even though some teachers from her county may participate.
- Subject contract with State, not county BOE, and thus member lacks control over contract.
- County BOE member lacks control over county BOE’s reimbursement of county teachers’ expenses incurred in taking member’s online course.
2010-20 Conservation Districts
2010-21 County Board of Education
- May not spend public funds in excess of $1,000 to construct project on an elected board member’s property without a contract exemption.
- Public contract provision in Ethics Act contains no exception for part-time elected officials.
- Not subject to the prohibitions of W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.
- Ethics Act does not prohibit contract with a private club in which an elected board member and treasurer own less than five percent of the outstanding shares of stock.
- May not contract with a private club in which an elected board member, treasurer and spouse of the superintendent own stock without a contract exemption due to the prohibitions of W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.
- May not contract with a business with which public officials or their spouses serve as a director pursuant to the Ethics Act.
2010-24 Board of Education
- May purchase property owned in part by a Sheriff’s Chief Tax Deputy.
- Chief Tax Deputy does not exercise control over BOE contracts.
- Chief Tax Deputy not subject to W. Va. Code § 61-10-15 since position is neither statutorily created nor require an oath of office.
- May not purchase property owned in part by a part-time Assistant Prosecutor without a contract exemption due to the prohibitions of W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.
- Assistant Prosecutor exercises control over BOE contracts by providing legal representation.
- Assistant prosecutor meets the “part-time appointed public official” exception to the Ethics Act’s public contract limitation.
- Assistant Prosecutor is a public official for purposes of § 61-10-15 since position is statutorily created and he takes an oath of office.
- Assistant Prosecutor exercises voice, influence, or control over BOE contracts.
2011-01 County Council Member
- County council member’s business may appraise estates so long she recuses herself from any matters coming before the Council involving the probate of any estate her business has appraised. Council member’s business may not appraise any estates over which the Sheriff has been appointed by the County Council as the administrator. Council member’s business should be removed from the Fiduciary Supervisor’s list of available appraisers.
- Council member may not appear as a representative or witness before the Council either about the appraised value or the amount of her compensation.
- Council member may not accept protected persons from the Sheriff for placement in her nursing home without a contract exemption.
- County Hospital, whose members are appointed by the county commission, may modify an existing contract with a city-owned hospital that employs a county commissioner.
- County commission does not have direct authority or control over the contract; neither the county commission nor the County Hospital appoints the members of the city-owned hospital’s board of trustees or appropriates money to the city-owned hospital.
- The county commissioner may not use his position to influence the award of the contract.
- If a matter relating to the contract comes before the county commission, the commissioner/city-owned hospital employee should recuse himself from voting.
2011-09 County Hospital
- County Hospital may accept unsolicited offer of equipment and related services from appointed board member.
- County Hospital may accept unsolicited offer of real property from appointed board member so long as: there are no financial conditions associated with the property transfer, the body notifies the public of the member’s offer and it allows other property owners to offer their property.
- County Hospital may accept unsolicited offer of real property from appointed board member even if there are unresolved issues requiring mitigation (e.g. environmental hazards or outstanding liens), but only if an independent evaluation determines that the overriding benefit is to the governing body rather than the donor and it receives permission from the Ethics Commission.
- Modifies AO 95-09 by clarifying that the donation (as opposed to the leasing) of property does not constitute a public contract.
2011-10 County Board of Education (BOE)
- Spouse of BOE Superintendent may not be employed as Director of Student Services, a prohibited administrative position under W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.
- Spouse of county BOE Superintendent may be employed as School Psychologist, a position that meets the exception in W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.
- Spouse of county BOE Superintendent may be continue to be physically located in the central office without violating W. Va. Code § 61-10-15. The nature of the work performed and not the location is outcome determinative.
- Superintendent may not use position to obtain, increase or promote the interests of spouse as a BOE employee.
2011-12 Town Attorney
Overrules portion of AO 2010-04 wherein member of a non-profit board was prohibited from voting as a member of the Board of Education.
- Town’s elected officials may vote to appropriate funds to a non-profit organization on which they and/or their family members serve as uncompensated board members and/or officers.
2011-20 An Elected County Commissioner
- May purchase tax liens at a Sheriff's sale or through the State Auditor's Office, or both, when County Commission had no direct involvement in the assessment of the property.
- May not purchase a tax lien on property for which the owner requested adjustment of assessed value or other relief from County Commission sitting as the board of equalization and review.
• Ethics Act does not prohibit city employed building inspector from serving on City Council, but he must perform his Council duties on his own time, not during his public work hours. Ethics Act does not prohibit a building inspector/city employee from serving on City Council.
• City council member employed by city may not vote on a personnel matter which affects him directly as opposed to affecting five or more employees in the same or similar manner.
• City employed building inspector serving on City Council must recuse himself when citizens who are affected by his official actions come before City Council to address or dispute his official actions.
2012-02 County Commissioner
Ethics Act does not prohibit county from purchasing property from real estate business with which a County Commissioner is associated. Commissioner may not use his position to influence purchase of the property, and may not communicate with fellow County Commissioners or Building Commission members or staff on matters relating to the property. Neither Commissioner nor his immediate family members have ownership interest in property, so there is no prohibited interest.
2012-03 County Agency
• Ethics Act does not prohibit County Agency from employing Supervisor’s son, even though they live in the same house, so long as the Supervisor is completely removed from the hiring process.
• Ethics Act does not prohibit County Agency from employing Supervisor’s son even though they live in the same house.
Supervisor employed by County Agency is not a county officer and therefore is not subject to provisions of W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.
• General rule: Public servant should not supervise a relative.
Supervisor employed by County Agency may supervise son on emergency calls and while in the field.
• may not use public resources for the benefit of his private business;
• may not use subordinate staff to perform work associated with his private business while the subordinates are on the government time clock;
• may not solicit private business from subordinates;
• may not distribute promotional materials concerning his private business from his office and/or in City/Town Hall;
may not have an interest in a public contract, with certain exceptions;
• must recuse himself when a current customer appears before Council; and
• must recuse himself from: drafting bid specifications or requests for proposals;
• recommending selection of the vendor; and/or
approving the method or manner of payment to the vendor; and
• when serving as municipal judge, must:
if customer within past six months appears, disclose the fact thereof and recuse himself if either party requests; and
recuse himself from cases involving customers within the past six months.
2012-12 Local Board of Health
• Board of Health’s part-time appointed Health Officer may accept patient referrals from the Health Department so long as s/he does not make, participate in making, or in any way attempt to use his or her office or employment to influence a government decision affecting his or her financial or limited financial interest.
• Full-time health officer may not contract with own Board of Health unless Board seeks and receives advice or a contract exemption from Ethics Commission.
• Local Board of Health formed by a county and a municipality not subject to strict provisions of § 61-10-15.
County Boards of Health are subject to strict provisions of § 61-10-15; their health officers (part time and full-time) may not contract with own Board of Health unless Board seeks and receives advice or a contract exemption from Ethics Commission.
2012-13 Member of a County Board of Education (BOE)
• May contract with a public university to supervise university students during their placement in public schools in the county where he serves so long as he does not use any public resources, including BOE staff, to perform his private contractual duties.
• Agreement between public university and BOE not a public contract.
2012-16 County Commission
• Prohibited from purchasing private property from appointed member of County Building Commission.
Purchase of property from appointed member creates impermissible conflict and a prohibited interest in a public contract.
• May seek Contract Exemption if it believes the property is only viable option.
• May reside with father who is employed by City.
May not exercise supervisory control over his father/city employee.
• May not conduct his father’s evaluations, set his schedule, authorize overtime, or approve father’s direct supervisor’s recommendations which directly affect the terms and conditions of his father’s employment.
Must recuse himself from personnel matters which uniquely affect his father as opposed to matters affecting his father as a class of five or more similarly situated employees.
May participate in collective bargaining agreement negotiations with union of City employees of which father is a member.
Must recuse himself from the negotiation of any provision in collective bargaining agreement which uniquely affects his father, but may vote on the collective bargaining agreement in its entirety.
2012-26 Candidate for County Commission
•Spouse may not remain employed with County Clerk’s office or by any other county office or agency if Candidate becomes county commissioner.
•Spousal exemption created by § 61-10-15 (l):
• does not extend to persons elected to office whose spouses are already employed by County government or County school system
• only extends to certain spouses who were employed by county prior to their marriage to a county official.
2012-28 Candidate for Prosecuting Attorney
• If Requester is elected Prosecuting Attorney, spouse may not continue her employment with the Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
• Requester’s spouse may be employed by another county office or agency so long as she is chosen for such a position based on her experience and qualifications, not based on favoritism to the Requester.
2012-29 County Emergency Services Director
• May not be compensated for performing duties of managing federal grant when those duties are the usual and customary duties associated with County Emergency Services Director.
• May not privately contract with County to manage a federal grant given to County for mitigation projects, when Requester’s duties as County Emergency Services Director gives him direct authority and control over private contract with County.
2012-30 County Emergency Services Director
• May privately contract with Municipality within County to manage federal grant for mitigation projects when Municipality does not fall under County’s floodplain jurisdiction.
• Does not have direct authority voice, influence, or control over Municipality’s decision relating to grant money, and the expenditure thereof.
Must notify County Commission of contractual arrangement with Municipality; to obtain approval; and abide by any restrictions that County Commission imposes.
2012-32 State Legislator and County BOE Bus Operator
• May contract with Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) provided he: does not use his public position to obtain unfair advantage in securing contract; does not use his public position to gain unfair advantage for the RESA by which he is employed; and does not get paid during Legislative Session if he does not perform his contractual duties.
• May contract with RESA as Bus Operator exercises no control over contract.
• Must perform RESA duties on his own time; not during BOE work hours.
• May be required to file verified time records with Ethics Commission if RESA duties performed during regularly scheduled BOE work hours.
2012-34 Public Agency
May permit employee who was involuntarily denied boarding from a flight while in travel status to accept compensation from airline.
$100/year compensation for serving on City Council de minimis
Appointment to position on Council not a public contract
May vote for candidate to fill vacancy on Council who is a customer of her husband
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 following 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.
2012-40 Assistant Superintendent
Has voice, influence or control over spouse's subcontract with company that provides services to county school system, therefore contract prohibited.
2012-42 - Conservation District
May award $500 scholarship per calendar year to District supervisor’s child so long as District supervisor recuses him/herself from all participation in selection of scholarship participants, leaves the room during discussion and decision-making period, and fully discloses his or her interests.
• District supervisor may not informally “lobby” or otherwise attempt to influence voting members of, or other decision-makers in, the government agency to select his/her child.
2012-45 County Attorney
• Has direct authority or control over County’s public contracts contemplated by W. Va. Code § 6B-2-5(d).
• Has “voice” and “influence” over all County contracts for purposes of W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.
• Position not “county office" so not subject to W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.
• May not receive additional pay for serving as project coordinator for County Building Commission, absent a contract exemption.
2012-46 City Council Member
• May serve on City Council although Council Member’s law firm contracts with City.
• Does not have prohibited financial interest in contract between law firm since Council Member is employee of law firm, not owner or director.
• May not: (1) receive any commissions or remuneration as a result of contract between law firm and City; (2) work behind the scenes to steer business to law firm; or, (3) participate in deliberation or vote on matters relating to contract with his firm, e.g. approving invoices.
• Must excuse himself from participating in discussion and decision-making process by leaving room when item is being discussed or decided; fully disclosing his interests; and recusing himself from voting on the issue. Meeting minutes must reflect basis for recusal and that Council Member left room during all discussion and vote on item under consideration.
2012-47 County Commission
• May appoint a County Commissioner to serve as a voting member of a County Ambulance Authority, a subunit of county government.
• Should consult with its attorney on whether other laws permit proposed self-appointment, especially when enabling legislation does not specifically authorize self-appointments and position is compensated.
• County Commissioner does not have prohibited financial interest and may vote on matters affecting the County Ambulance Authority which come before County Commission.
• City may employ mayor’s daughter, subject to limitations.
• Governing body must advertise all positions in which member of body knows in advance that family member is interested therein.
• Affected member must recuse him/herself from all decisions regarding candidates, including: deciding whether position needs to be filled; writing job description or establishing job requirements; reviewing applications or resumes; interviewing applicants; ranking applicants; and participating in decision-making process.
• If relative is hired, affected member must be completely recused from all personnel matters related to that relative, including without limitation: salary, raises, promotion, discipline, termination or lay-offs, unless that relative is member of class of five or more.
• For recusal to be proper, official shall disclose her/his conflict of interest and leave room during discussion, deliberation and vote thereon. Meeting minutes shall reflect official’s recusal.
• May not:
• informally attempt to influence official action on behalf of relative;
• “lobby” fellow members of governing body to take favorable action on relative’s behalf; or
• attempt to influence relative’s supervisor to take favorable action.
• May not supervise any relative or relative’s supervisor.
2013-09 County Prosecutor
• Ethics Act does not prohibit Assistant Prosecutor from serving as elected County Commissioner in another County, even if counties are situated in same judicial circuit.
• Assistant Prosecutor must perform County Commission duties on his own time, not during public work hours.
2013-13 County Commissioner
• Unless it obtains a contract exemption, County Commission prohibited from leasing its marina to business partner of a County Commissioner, even when such marina is unrelated to the partnership.
2013-19 City Council Member
• A town council member may not (prospectively) rent a building owned by the town.
• The prior lease was proper, as the town council member was not a member at the time of original lease.
• Regarding town’s property offered for rent, the town council must use due diligence, must advertise publicly, offer fair opportunity to compete, and use recent property comparables. After this process, the town may seek a contract exemption. However, the affected town council member may not participate in the decision regarding seeking a contract exemption, but rather must recuse himself/herself.
2013-22 State Employee
A state employee may enter into a subcontract via his/her private trucking business with a contractor of a state agency.
Here, the subcontract does not constitute use of public office for private gain because the employee has no control or authority over the selection of the state agency contractor and will not perform work for his/her private trucking business while working for the state agency.
2013-24 Regional Solid Waste Authority
• A Regional Solid Waste Authority may continue to contract with an insurance agency while the Authority’s Chairperson is Vice President and a principal thereof.
• Part time appointed public officials are exempt from the prohibition against having an interest in the profits or benefits of a public contract over which they have authority or control, provided that the official in his/her public position, is excluded from matters related to the contract.
• Teachers who served on a Textbook Adoption Committee, who participated in selecting and approving a textbook may not enter into subcontracts with a private textbook company for the purpose of training other teachers in the selected textbook’s use.
• WV Code §61-10-15 and § 6B-2-5(d)(1) apply to these facts. Teachers who were members of the Textbook Adoption Committee had influence, voice, and control over the selection of the private textbook company’s textbook and its adoption.
2013-36 County Assessor
• A County Assessor may purchase office supplies from a company owned by his employee’s fiancé. (The employee has no involvement with supply purchases. The County Assessor has no financial or personal relationship with the employee or his/her fiancé.)
WV Code § 61-10-15 is applicable to the County Assessor, but not to all county employees.
• There may be no interest in public contracts and no favoritism. The employee has no voice over purchases, and is not a “county official”. The County Assessor is a county official, but there is no Ethics Act violation because the employee has no control over purchases and the County Assessor has no personal or financial relationship with the employee or his/ her fiancé.
2013-41 County Employee
A county employee may not serve on County Commission while employed full time by the County Ambulance Authority.
W.Va. Code §61-10-15 prohibits county officials from having an interest in public contracts. The County Commission appoints all members of the County Ambulance Authority and has authority to make contributions to the ambulance authority from general funds. If elected, the county employee would have voice, influence or control over the County Ambulance Authority who has control over his/her employment, via the Authority’s Executive Director.
2013-58 County Commission/Regional Drug Court Team
A Regional Drug Court Team and its Advisory Board may contract with a County Commissioner to provide dental services to a drug court participant, with limitations.
• The contract for dental work must be let out via a sealed bid process, dental work must not be funded by or comingled with funds from the county commission, and the affected county commissioner must recuse himself/herself from any Drug Court requests for funding directed to the County Commission.
• This dental work was to be paid for from individual donations and grants, and voluntary allocation of County Commission funds did not constitute direct authority or control.
2014-02 State Board Members
Are not prohibited from serving on the State Board or from voting on the applications submitted by municipalities with which they have a relationship. The Ethics Act’s definition of “business” does not include a governing body, therefore these State Board members do not have a financial interest in the municipal applications under W.Va. Code § 6B-1-3(b).
2014-04 Assistant Park Superintendent
•May serve at the same park where his/her brother has a contract to operate its marina, with limitations. A third party must investigate complaints and report these to his/her supervisor. Assistant Park Superintendent should not inspect the concessions or initiate corrective action, but should either assign another employee to do so, or do so along with another non-subordinate employee.
•Prohibition against interest in public contract is limited to “immediate family members” based on the inherent financial relationships between spouses who live together, as well as dependent children, grandchildren, and parents. By contrast, an adult sibling is not presumptively financially dependent on another sibling. Therefore, the contract between Assistant Park Superintendent’s brother and the state agency is not prohibited under W.Va. Code § 6B-2-5(d).
2014-05 County Board of Education
• May purchase a scoreboard from an athletic booster organization, a private, non-profit charitable organization, despite having a member who is common to both the governing body and the private organization.
• Common member to each organization is not compensated by the athletics boosters organization, has no financial relationship with the boosters organization, and is not a party to the boosters organization loan for the scoreboard.
• Common member is not required to recuse him/herself on any matters related to any contract or transaction between the governing body and the boosters. Non- profit organizations are not encompassed in the Ethics Act definition of a “business” in W.Va. Code § 6b-1-3(b).
• Neither W.Va. Code § 61-10-15 nor 6B-2-5(d)(1) prohibits the contract, as the common member does not have a personal interest in the contract, and the non-profit’s financial interest cannot be imputed to the common member by virtue of his position on the non- profit board, without evidence that he/she receives financial benefit in the transaction.
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.
2014-09 Candidate for County Board of Education
• May, if elected, be employed as a teacher for a multi-county area vocational center that services the county because the Board of Education is not the teacher’s employer.
County board of education member is not prohibited from voting on matters related to the vocational center because he/she does not have a financial interest in the funding for the vocational center as an employee of the vocational center.
• Candidate/employee does not have the requisite control in employment decisions to invoke prohibitions in WV Code § 61-10-15.
• Some conditions apply: If elected, candidate may not use his/her position on the county board of education to obtain a position at the vocational center, to promote raises or other benefits to his/herself or others, unless the class exception is applicable, and may not serve on the vocational center’s Administrative council. Candidate may not use public resources, including county board of education staff to perform private work for the vocational center.
May not sell unused or surplus weapons directly to the son of a Deputy Sheriff and deposit the money into the Concealed Weapons Fund, as it would be using his public position to benefit the son of a subordinate in violation of the Act’s prohibition against use of public office for private gain, and would be an unavoidable conflict of interest.
2014-15 State Agency
May sell advertising to defray the cost of wellness tools on its website to assist public employees to improve their health because it falls within the Ethics Act’s definition of usual and customary duties and the advancement of public policy goals or constituent services.
Selling such advertising does not constitute prohibited endorsement of a vendor or product, and so the state agency must include a disclaimer with the advertisement making clear that the appearance of the advertising should not be construed as endorsement.
Must allow equal access for advertising to all businesses or classes of businesses related to health and wellness.
2014-17 County Sheriff
Does not have a prohibited conflict of interest if his father-in-law bids on or is awarded a contract with the Sheriff’s office. The definition of “immediate family member” does not include father-in-law, and there is no financial relationship between the Sheriff and his father-in-law, so there is no prohibited financial interest.
2015-05 City Council Member
City council member may continue her lease agreement with the city building commission as long as she does not serve on the city building commission or participate in the appointment of members to serve on the building commission.
2015-16 County Building Commission Member
A County Building Commission member may purchase and develop property owned and managed by a County Urban Renewal Authority without violating W. Va. Code §§ 6B-2-5(d)(1), 6B-2-5(b) or 61-10-15.
2016-12 County Prosecutor
A County Prosecutor does not have a prohibited financial or pecuniary interest in his mother-in-law’s building’s sales agreement; therefore, the purchase of the building by the County Commission is permissible under W.Va. Code § 6B-2-5(d) and W.Va. Code § 61-10-15.
2017-02 County Commissioner
• W.Va. Code §61-10-15 prohibits Commissioner’s company from submitting bids to provide contractors with materials for a Parks and Recreation Commission project.
• Commissioner has an indirect pecuniary interest in contract when his/her financial interest is directly tied to whether customers of his/her company are able to secure the contract.
• W .Va. Code § 61-10-15 also prohibits the company from directly contracting to provide materials to the county public service district.
2017-04 A Candidate for County Commission
W.Va. Code § 61-10-15 prohibits a candidate for county commission, if elected, from continuing to be employed by a public library to which the county commission provides funding. The commission’s appropriation to the library constitutes approximately 7 percent of the library’s budget which, for purposes of § 61-10-15, constitutes the exercise of voice, influence and control over the library’s contracts. 2017-10 A County Commissioner's Company
A County Commissioner’s company may sell construction materials and supplies to county contractors to use on non-county projects.2017-11 A County Commissioner
A County Commissioner may not knowingly sell his products to contractors or subcontractors to use for county projects. The Requester’s staff is not required to ask all customers what the final disposition of the materials purchased will be but, instead, the Requester must take reasonable precautions to ensure that his products are not sold to county contractors or subcontractors to use for county construction projects. 2017-12 A County Commissioner
Neither the Ethics Act nor W.Va. Code § 61-10-15 prohibits an employee or board member of a county parks board from being employed by a Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (“CVB”) or serving on a CVB board even if the parks board provides some in-kind support to the CVB. A parks board member who is also employed by the CVB may not vote on the appropriations of money or the awarding of a contract to the CVB.2017-22 A State Agency
A part-time appointed state board member whose spouse has a finder’s fee agreement with property owners applying for inclusion in the board’s conservation easement program may serve on the board or one of its subcommittees, but must recuse himself from all board and subcommittee matters involving conservation easement applications.
For recusal to be proper, he must disclose the nature of his spouse’s financial interest in the contract and comply with the other recusal requirements in W. Va. Code § 6B-2-5(j) and related Legislative Rule governing interests in public contracts, W. Va. Code R. § 158-8-5 (2009).
Advisory Opinion 2017-22 overrules, in part, Advisory Opinions 2009-08 and 2011-182018-05 Potential Board of Education Member
A BOE member would not have sufficient voice, influence, or control over her employment contract with WVU Extension Service to prohibit serving as a Board of Education member, if elected, given the BOE’s limited appropriations to WVU Extension Services and the Requester’s lack of power to make appointments to her local extension service committee 2018-07 A County Commission
A County Commission may allow the Sheriff to live rent-free in a house located in the county park because the Sheriff’s presence would enhance security at the park and he would repair and maintain the house.2018-09 A City
A city council member does not have a prohibited interest in a city’s proposed public contract to purchase property adjacent to the member’s residence and 28 other residences because the benefit to the member is not selective, differential or in disproportion to the benefit provided to the other 28 owners. The member may deliberate and vote on the purchase as a member of a class because he is similarly situated to the other 28 owners.2018-10 Board of Education
A BOE member may continue to be employed by a staffing agency to perform work for a textbook company in other counties when that company markets textbooks and educational materials to the BOE member’s Board of Education. The BOE member meets the exemption provided to public officials who are employees of a vendor or supplier under W. Va. Code § 61-10-15(e).2019-04 A City
A City may not make purchases from a Fire Chief’s business, either directly or through a reimbursement request from the VFD, in instances where he has been involved in the purchasing decisions because the part-time appointed official exception would not apply.
The City may make purchases from the Fire Chief’s private business if it is willing and able to remove him from participating in decisions involving the purchase of equipment or supplies for the City’s Fire Department and/or the VFD.
Businesses owned by City Council members may apply for and receive grants from the City’s Small Business Grant program, even though they may have direct authority and control over the program, because the grant is not the type of contract the Legislature intended the Ethics Act to prohibit. Businesses owned by City employees may also receive grants through the program.
A County Board of Education Member
A county board of education member may be employed as a teacher by a private, nonprofit school which contracts with the BOE to provide educational and behavioral health services to students in the County School System due to a five-part exception in W. Va. Code § 61-10-15. Discusses the rules on voting on the BOE budget as it relates to the nonprofit school and the prohibition on voting on invoice payments to the nonprofit school.
A BOE member may vote on matters affecting a customer of his private construction business when the member is not associated with the business of the customer and does not have a direct and immediate financial interest in the matter. (partially overrules Advisory Opinions 2005-12 and 2012-07)
A state commission may contract with a person who serves on another state board that provides administrative support to the state commission due to an exception in the Act for part-time appointed officials and because the state board member had no involvement in awarding the contract.