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 Endorsements

1998-22​ State Agency

A State Agency may be referenced in a private company’s brochure that does not contain a product endorsement.

2000-19 State Agency

A State Agency may not allow a software vendor to pay for training expenses of its employees in exchange for being a reference account endorsing the vendor.  No overriding public benefit.


2000-21 State Employee

A State Employee may not give a letter of recommendation containing laudatory terms to a trainer for his law enforcement training.  She may discuss the merits of the training program with other current or potential users who may contact her.


2002-18 State Agency

A State Agency may not allow one of its dogs to be featured in a dog food commercial.  There is no overriding public benefit.


2003-03 County Commission 

A County Commission's free use of vehicles in a  "rolling billboards" program may violate the private gain provision, absent an overriding public benefit.


2003-09City Council 

A City Council's free use of vehicles in a  "rolling billboards" program may violate private gain provision, absent an overriding public benefit.


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.
2015-13 County Commissioner
Public officials may recognize businesses and individuals for contributions to economic development and charitable purposes by attending “ribbon cuttings” and through resolutions or proclamations. Providing testimonials or favorable reviews of a business’s products or services is not permissible. Official may post portrait photograph and of attendance at public events on official social media. AO does not set a limit on the number of photographs of a public official that may appear on an agency’s social media. Ethics Act does not restrict use of personal social media. Public officials may not use public resources to manage or post on their personal or campaign social media. 

2015-17 State Agency
Public educators may not appear in a software vendor’s promotional video and articles demonstrating how West Virginia teachers and students use the vendor’s products without violating the prohibition against public officials’ commercial endorsements of a product or business.

2015-21 State Agency
A State Agency may contract with a vendor to provide flat screen monitors which will broadcast public service announcements and paid advertising in its regional office lobbies if: (1) the agency selects the vendor in accordance with applicable purchasing laws; (2) the advertisements do not include political advertisements or feature persons or the names of persons who are candidates for public office; (3) the agency includes a disclaimer to ensure that the advertising does not constitute a prohibited endorsement, and (4) public service announcements from other agencies may not contain the name or likeness of a public official.  The sale of advertising under these circumstances does not constitute the prohibited solicitation of a gift.  

2016-10 County Clerk
  • May authorize private organizations to use her name and public job title when recognizing her for personal donations she makes to charitable events. 
  • Public officials/employees may not use public job titles if employed by a charitable organization on whose behalf they are soliciting.
  • Public officials/employees may not solicit gifts for a charitable purpose if there is a direct pecuniary benefit to an immediate family member.
​2017-20 Municipal Police Officers
A municipal police chief may allow police officers to participate in a "Coffee with Cops" event held by a local fast-food restaurant where the pu​rpose of the event is to promote community relations and outreach programs.  Attending the event is not an improper endorsement of the restaurant because a reasonable citizen would not find that the officers were promoting the restaurant. 

2017-24 Director of a State Agency 
Ethics Act does not prohibit the state agency from including a link on its website to its cyber liability insurance producer for the benefit of non-state entities.  The agency must, however, allow equal access on its website to all producers for cyber liability insurance and include a disclaimer explicitly stating it is not endorsing the producer, any insurance carrier or its services or products.  


2021-05​ County Commission

​The Ethics Commission held that a County may have paid advertisements on its tourism websit​e.  The sale of the advertisement must be made in a fair and even-handed manner.  The County should consider including a disclaimer on the tourism website stating that the advertisements should not be construed as an endorsement by the County of any business.  ​The County may give local hotels free advertising on the same website because ​they are responsible for collecting and remitting the hotel occupancy tax and these taxes will be used to pay for the website.​​


2022-11State Agency

A State Agency may post a list of employee suggested restaurants on its wellness website because there is an overriding public benefit in promoting employee wellness and morale and the posting does not, therefore, constitute an improper endorsement.