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 Private Gain

1997-03 Town

A Town may donate funds to a public school for playground equipment.  No private gain since school is public.


1997-06 City Sanitary Board Member

A City Sanitary Board member may be compensated for work performed, subject to proper recusal.


1997-13 Board of Education

A BOE may not pay off the booster members’ personal debt absent a legal obligation to do so.


1997-18 State Trooper

May not include “Trooper” in ads for his business.


1997-22 State College

A State College may share the cost of new computers with staff  that will become the property of staff after three years.


1997-28 State Employee

A State employee may not use his agency's long distance calling service for personal calls even if the employee reimburses the state given that the state's lower rate is not available to the public. 


1997-30 Town Recorder

A Town Recorder is prohibited from issuing payment in violation of the Act even if directed by council to do so. Council members who vote to approve knowingly illegal payment may also violate the Act.


1997-33 County Development Authority

A County Development Authority may accept property in which a member has a financial interest to correct a mistake in title.   

1998-09 Sheriff

A Sheriff may engage in a limited amount of campaigning while using his county cruiser due to his special law enforcement duties.


1998-11 Sheriff

A Sheriff may not use his county cruiser to travel with his wife to her pollical activities. 


1998-14 State Public Official

A State Public official may not use frequent flier miles accumulated during official travel. [Act was subsequently amended to allow this in W. Va. Code § 6B-2-5(b).]


1998-15 State Agency

A State Agency may pay for employee parking.


1998-16  County Board of Education

A County Board of Education may pay off a loan incurred by the boosters to improve BOE property.


1998-27 State Employee

A State employee may not invite clients of her agency to sales parties at her home.


1998-28 State Agency

A State agency may use public funds to provide financial incentives for a wellness program.


1998-30 Legislator

A Legislator may not reference his legislative service in a commercial for his private legal practice.


1999-01 State Agency 

A State Agency may contract with a labor union to perform certificate testing for crane operators even though most operators in the state are union members. 


1999-05 City

A City may not use its funds to help employees acquire personal computers at a reduced rate.


1999-06  State Employee 

A State Employee may deliver employees’ personal mail to the post office if there is no substantial expense to the state.


1999-12 Legislator

A Legislator may serve as a state commission member and accept statutory pay.  Constitutional provision concerning Legislators holding other lucrative public office is not under the Commission’s authority.


2000-03 State Regulatory Board Member

A State Regulatory Board Member may not accept travel reimbursement for a non-essential trip to a remote site from an association that has a matter before the board due to lack of overriding public benefit.


2000-04 County Board of Education

A Board of Education may provide a direct link to a BOE member’s private, education-oriented website, assuming other members and candidates are afforded the same opportunity.  (But see Advisory Opinion 2015-13)


2000-08 State Agency

A State Agency may use state personnel to plan and run a regional conference, including its social and recreational events, that improves the professional development and skill of the agency employees, which is an overriding public benefit.


2000-11​ County Board of Education

A Board of Education may use public funds to purchase equipment to accommodate a member’s hearing impairment only if BOE has a duty to do so to accommodate a disability.


2000-15 County Commission

A County Commission may use county funds to buy a chamber of commerce membership but may not buy meals at events.


200​0-19 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.

2000-20 State Licensing Board

A State Licensing Board may pay its board secretary reasonable compensation for extra duties as it is authorized by statute. 


2000-28 Economic Development Authority

An Economic Development Authority may share costs for office space and personnel with a local chamber of commerce.


2001-01 State Agency

A State Agency may provide employee meals when they are required to work unscheduled emergency overtime.  (See  Public Employee Recognition Guideline and Advisory Opinion 2018-02 for updated law.)


2001-02Board of Education

A Board of Education may acknowledge its support of an educational tv campaign paid for by its vendors; members may not use the influence of their public positions to persuade vendors to financially support the campaign. 


2001-04
  County Commission

A County Commission may not use public funds to pay for employee social events such as Christmas parties. Inviting select members of the public does not legitimize the expenditure.  May use public funds for board meeting lunches - if authorized by legislation.

(See  Public Employee Recognition Guideline and Advisory Opinion 2018-02 for updated law.)


2001-05 State Institute of Higher Education

A State Institute of Higher Education may not give its board members free year books.


2001-07 County Employee

A County Employee, working as a project coordinator, is not subject to W. Va. Code § 61-10-15; employee may oversee a project involving an engineering firm that employs her husband’s employer; but, may not show preferential treatment to the employer.


2001-10 Public Attorney

A public attorney may provide pro bono services on private time.


2001-15 County Commission

A County Commission may not require, encourage, or approve the wearing of promotional buttons by county personnel, the display or distribution of promotional materials in county offices, the use of bumper stickers on county vehicles, or the posting of yard signs on county property, which advance the Commission’s position concerning the location of an airport.  


2001-17 County Commissioner

A County Commissioner may not rent to tenants whose rent is subsidized by a housing authority program.  May continue existing leases so long as there is no modification of its terms. 


2001-18 County Ambulance Authority

A County Ambulance Authority may not provide meals and beverages for members during board meetings nor employees participating in a paid training.


2001-20 Legislator

A Legislator may be employed by a federally-funded state university institution.


2001-21 State University

A State University may secure discounts from a vendor that runs a bookstore for students and faculty, but not discounts for just the faculty. 


2001-25 Board of Education

A Board of Education may use public funds to pay for Chamber of Commerce dues; may not use public funds to buy food there.


2001-27 Town Council

Town Council may pay for lumber supplied by the former Mayor as a loan. [Non precedential]


2001-32 County School Teacher

A County School Teacher may teach summer school for a program paid for by a grant she helped secure - if she was not involved in selecting herself as a summer teacher. 


2001-34 County Commission
A County Commission may not approve compensation to the sheriff personally for administering an estate; it must go to the Sheriff's public office. 

2001-37County Commission
A County Commission may pay an elected county surveyor, a position that has no responsibilities or compensation, for county projects.

2002-01 Economic Development Board employee

​An Economic Development Board employee may not use a county vehicle for personal use as it is prohibited under state Code even if the employee would pay for the use.


2002-04 County Commissioner

A County Commissioner may participate in the county employees' wellness program. 


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.


2003-05 Public Employees 

Public employees may use the prestige of office to fundraise for a charitable purpose on behalf of their professional association.  Lobbying for public interest laws, and training to enhance professional competence, are charitable purposes.  Social events at the trainings and the salaries for the association's personnel are not charitable.  


​2003-09 City Council 

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


2003-12 State Board Members 

State Board members and employees may not take action on a corporation in which they have a more than a de minimis financial interest, pursuant to the Commission's Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed.  


2003-14 Legislator 

A Legislator may not sponsor table gaming legislation that principally benefits his full-time employer.


2003-16Public Official or Employee 

A public official or employee may not request an Advisory Opinion about another person's conduct or a hypothetical situation.​


2004-01 County Commission

A County Commission may appoint a county health department employee to serve on the county solid waste authority.  


2004-05 Volunteer Fire Department

A volunteer Fire Department, a nongovernmental agency, may accept free use of an emergency vehicle containing commercial advertising.  See 2003-03 and 2003-09 concerning governmental agencies.


2004-06 A State Board M​ember

A State Board member who holds a de minimis amount of stock in a publicly traded company may vote on legal action against the company. The Commission decides whether a financial interest is de minimis on a case-by-case basis.


2004-07 Law Enforcement Officials

Law enforcement officials in a professional association may engage in fundraising activities for charitable purposes while on duty and in uniform, but not for their own private gain.


2004-09 University Employees

University employees may accept a 10% YMCA discount as part of its wellness program to reduce the University's overall healthcare delivery costs.  The coordinator may accept a free membership if he volunteers in his free time.  Alternatively, he may serve as coordinator on employer's time.  


2004-11 County School Superintendent 

A County School Superintendent must resign before applying for principal position.  Superintendent is required to make recommendations for hiring.  He is subject to W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.  (Portion of the Opinion that implied that an appearance of using public office for private gain is the appropriate standard for a private gain violation has been overruled.  See Advisory Opinion 2021-08​).


2004-19 State Board Member 

A State Board Member may vote to change fees for real estate developers even though his brother is a developer pursuant to the class exception in the Commission's Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed.  The class exception has been incorporated into the Ethics Act. 


2004-22 State University 

A State University employee may not accept a discounted price from a vendor for a gaming system without a reasoned medical determination that the system reduces healthcare costs or promotes wellness.


2004-26 State Agency

A State Agency may permit a private association of its employees to operate vending machines in a public facility used mostly by the employees if there is no cost to the state.


2005-10 State Division Director
Division Director in agency which regulates motor vehicle dealers may not appear in commercials advertising automobile dealer even though his division does not regulate dealers

2005-16 County Health Department Employee
May reference professional certification which employer paid for in advertising for private consulting business

2006-13 County Commissioner
Use of county resources to provide shuttle services for a private picnic is not permitted

2006-14 State Board Members 
May not conduct training programs for third-parties regulated by their Board without a written waiver from the Ethics Commission 
Exec Dir may grant temporary waiver which must be ratified by Commission
Distinguished by Advisory Opinion 2019-17.

2006-17 County School Teacher
Teacher who directs Show Choir may not sell music compositions to be performed by choir he directs

2008-05 County Parks & Recreation Commission
May authorize employees to play golf for free under certain conditions

2008-07 Town Council
May authorize employees to use town swimming pool for free as fringe benefit of employment

2008-09 Public University (Overrules A.O. 2001-21 to the extent it prohibited a University from offering faculty discounts at its bookstore)
May give discount to faculty and staff on bookstore purchases

2009-02 Elected County Officials
County Funded Employee Wellness Program may not be extended to elected county officials whose compensation is set by statute.
To increase compensation (through the extension of benefits) beyond statutory maximum constitutes use of office for private gain.

2009-03 County Employees
May be reimbursed for government calls placed on personal cell phone 

2009-07  County Commissioner
• County Commissioner, a private attorney, may prepare wills, but must fully recuse himself from County Commission's probate thereof;
• County Commissioner may not appear in a representative capacity in any probate proceeding before the County Commission, even if uncontested;
• County Commissioner may testify as witness to will's validity before County Commission but must recuse himself from decision-making on any such will.

2009-08  Board of Directors of State Agency--overruled, in part, by Advisory Opinion 2017-22
• 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.

2009-09 State Employee
It would violate the Ethics Act for certain State Agency employees to accept a lower lodging rate from a resort which the State Agency regulates.

2009-10  State Employee
A State employee whose employer has accreditation oversight of institutions of higher education may be compensated for teaching a course at a public university so long as he
• Notifies his supervisor;
• Has his work relating to the accreditation of the public university as part of his doctoral program reviewed by his supervisor and his employing Agency's Review Board;
• Prepares for and teaches the course on his own time;
• Does not use any public resources

2010-01 Elected member of the Board of Public Works
• May solicit donations to underwrite the costs of a national conference and use the funds for meals and breaks, and certain social events, excluding golf.
• May acknowledge sponsors, but may not attribute an event to a single sponsor; may not indicate amount any sponsor donates.
• Use of funds Legislature appropriated to pay for attendees' meals does not constitute use of office for private gain.
• Opinion limited to Elected Members of the Legislature or Elected Members of the Board of Public Works who are soliciting for national or regional conferences in accordance with W. Va. Code §§ 6B-2-5(c)(6) and 6B-2-5(c)(7).

2010-02 Attorney for City
A City may participate in a vendor's program to provide discount to city employees for personal cell phone use.

2010-03 County Board of Education Candidate
• Spouse of county BOE member may be employed as Chief mechanic, a service position that meets exception in § 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 Board of Education members sits on the Board of the non-profit as 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.  (Overruled by A.O. 2011-12, which recognized that an uncompensated board member of a non-profit does not have a financial interest which would prohibit him or her from voting on appropriations to the non-profit.  However, W. Va. Code § 6B-2-5(j)(D) (effective July 7, 2017) requires a public official who sits on a non-profit board of directors to disclose the public official’s, or his or her immediate family member’s, relationship to the nonprofit (i) on the agenda item relating to the appropriation or award contract, if known at time of agenda, (ii) by the public official at the meeting prior to the vote, and (iii) in the minutes of the meeting.)

2010-05  Public Employees / Higher Ed
Agency's decision to allocate more than $25 to recognize one or more employees, in lieu of expending up to $25 per employee per fiscal year, does not violate the Ethics Act so long as the expenditure on any one employee does not exceed $100, and the total amount expended for this purpose during the fiscal year does not exceed the sum total of $25 per employee. 
 
2010-08  City Elected Officials
Public official may not vote to extend his or her own current term beyond that statutorily or constitutionally prescribed; to do so would be use of office for private gain.

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 § 61-10-15 prohibits part-time appointed officials from bidding at auction on items sold by Board on which they serve.

2010-11  State Legislator
May not accept two free airline tickets won in a random drawing at a public reception hosted by a State Agency for which the Legislature provides funds.
Prohibition against use of office for private gain applies to expenditures by public entities.

2010-13  County Board of Education Member
• Spouse of County BOE member may be employed as auditor in Central Office, a service position that meets exception in § 61-10-15.
• May not use position to obtain, increase or promote the interests of spouse as a BOE employee.
• May not vote on matters specific to his wife including raise, renewal of employment contract, or discipline.
• May vote on overall budget, but must recuse himself if line item affects wife or all four auditors if BOE specifically addresses any such line item .

2010-14  County Board of Education Member
• County BOE may not contract with Member’s fast food restaurant to provide food for special events
• County schools and/or school sports teams may not contract with County BOE Member’s fast food restaurant to provide food for school sports teams using school funds
• County BOE Member’s fast food restaurant may not sponsor fundraisers on behalf of school teams
• County BOE Member’s fast food restaurant may, under certain conditions, sponsor fundraisers on behalf of booster organizations
• County BOE Member’s fast food restaurant may, under certain conditions, sell food to credit union even though BOE provides office space to credit union

2010-15 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

2010-16  County Board of Education Member
• County BOE Member may contract with State Department of Education for online teaching even though some teachers from her county may participate.
• Subject contract is 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 .

2010-18 City Council
• May use public funds to purchase Sam's Club cards for the City's use.
• May not use public funds to purchase Sam's Club cards for the personal use of its employees or their family members.
• City officials and employees may not use the City's card to gain admission to the Sam's club and/or to make personal purchases.

2010-19 - Elected Public Official
• May not use public funds to purchase funeral flowers or other expressions of sympathy, including monetary donations.  
• May not solicit subordinate employees for a contribution towards the purchase of flowers or payment into an established office fund.
• May take up a voluntary donation among co-workers, under certain conditions.

2011-01 County Council Member
• County Council Member’s business may appraise estates so long she recuses herself from any matters coming before the County Council involving the probate of any estate her business has appraised.  County Council Member’s business may not appraise any estates over which the Sheriff has been appointed by the County Council as the administrator. County Council Member’s business should be removed from the Fiduciary Supervisor’s list of available appraisers.
• County Council Member may not appear, as a representative or witness, before the Council either about the appraised value or the amount of her compensation.
• County Council Member may not accept protected persons from the Sheriff for placement in her nursing home, absent a contract exemption for the Sheriff. 

2011-05 University President
• May spend public funds to pay membership dues for the President, but not the President’s spouse, to join the local Rotary club.
....Public funds may only be spent for President’s membership dues (and one-time new member fee), not on meals or any other cost or fee associated with Rotary membership, such as contributions to a related philanthropic organization. 
....Ethics Act does not prohibit the University Foundation—a separate, non-government entity—from paying for the spouse’s membership in Rotary and/or for paying for meals associated with Rotary meetings or functions for the President and/or the President’s spouse.
.....Higher Education exemption available only when the activity has been approved as part of the employment contract.


2011-08 Part-Time Prosecuting Attorney (Overrules AOs 89-15, 89-27 and 91-61)
• Part-Time Prosecuting Attorneys may continue to use office space in their respective county courthouses for their private law practices without reimbursing the County for the pro-rata rental value thereof.
• Part-Time Prosecuting Attorneys may continue to use public resources, including office equipment and staff in their respective county courthouses for their private law practices, but must reimburse the County for the pro-rata rental value thereof, or make direct payment for such equipment and/or services.
• Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys may not use courthouse office space, equipment, supplies or staff for their private law practices.


2011-09 County Hospital  (Modifies AO 95-09)
• 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 as long as there are no financial conditions associated with the property transfer; and the body notifies the public of the member’s offer and 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 
• Spouse of county 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, not location, is outcome determinative.
• Superintendent may not use position to obtain, increase or promote the interests of spouse as a BOE employee.


2011-11 State Agency
• May accept funds for its Recreation Department, pursuant to its enabling legislation.
• May solicit funds for its Recreation Department, under certain conditions:  solicitation must benefit residents, not public servants; may not endorse a donor business; must comply with Legislative Rule if soliciting vendors; may not solicit a subordinate or Agency client; and may not use Agency clients to solicit.


2011-12 Town Attorney
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. (However, W. Va. Code § 6B-2-5(j)(D) (effective July 7, 2017) requires a public official who sits on a non-profit board to disclose the public official’s, or his or her immediate family member’s, relationship to the nonprofit (i) on the agenda item relating to the appropriation or award contract, if known at time of agenda, (ii) by the public official at the meeting prior to the vote, and (iii) in the minutes of the meeting.)

2011-13 State Agency
• Public funds may not be spent to pay for health club or gym fees for public servants when the hotel does not provide free exercise facilities to lodgers.
• Public servants who receive an expense-paid trip to participate in a conference may not accept payment or reimbursement for health club or gym fees, when the hotel does not provide free exercise facilities to lodgers, and the total value of the fees exceeds $25. 
• Public servants who participate in a conference or event as a panelist or speaker may not accept payment or reimbursement for health club or gym fees when the hotel does not provide free exercise facilities to lodgers.


2011-14  Candidate for County Assessor
• May not continue career as owner and broker of real estate business within county where he will serve, if elected.
• May continue career as owner and broker of real estate business in other counties so long as he does not: use his official position in any way that would give him an advantage; conduct his business on county time; or use county resources (including staff) to conduct his private real estate business.

2011-17 State Licensing Board
• Executive Directors and Members of the Board may be members of professional associations consisting of licensees which the Boards regulate.
• Members may be officers of professional associations consisting of licensees which the Boards regulate, with limitations.
• Executive Director may not be an officer of or employed by a professional association consisting of licensees which the Board regulates.

2011-18 - Industry representatives on the governing council of a State Agency--overruled, in part, by Advisory Opinion 2017-22
• May not serve on the initial review panel for grant applications.
• May not serve on the committee to draft legislative rules relating to the award of grants.
• May participate as a member of council, and vote on approval of recommended grant application absent a prohibited interest necessitating recusal.
• May participate as a member of council, and vote on draft legislative rules relating to the award of grants absent a prohibited interest necessitating recusal.

2011-19 - A State Licensing Board
• May spend public funds to hire registered lobbyist, to serve as a Legislative liaison.
• Registered lobbyist retained by public agency as Legislative liaison must register as a lobbyist
• Revolving door prohibition does not apply to contract employee/former executive director who terminated employment before July 1, 2011 cut-off date.

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.

2011-21  A City
May adopt ordinance or change charter to compensate Mayor at flat rate of pay for extra duties not statutorily required of the mayor; provided that, the change becomes effective for the next term of office.

2011-22 State Agency employee
Ethics Act does not prohibit employee of State agency from serving on board of non-profit organization that State agency funds.

2012-01 Mayor
• 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, with limitations:  Commissioner may not use his position to influence purchase of the property; specifically, he may not communicate with fellow County Commissioners, or Members or staff of the Building Commission, on matters relating to the property.  
• No prohibited financial interest where neither Commissioner nor his immediate family members have ownership interest in property County
• Commission seeks to purchase from real estate business with which he is associated.   
• No prohibited financial interest where Commissioner is not: a director or officer; the listing agent for the property; or, entitled to receive any commission from the sale of the property.
• County Commissioner associated with real estate business selling property to County meets statutory exemption so long as he recuses himself.  (See Voting)
• County Commissioner associated with real estate business selling property to County must recuse himself from all matters related thereto.

2012-03 County Agency
• Ethics Act does not prohibit County Agency from employing Supervisor’s son, even though they live in the same house, as 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.

2012-04 Attorney for Municipal Water Board (Overruled in part by AO 2016-04)
• General Rule:  Ethics Act does not prohibit Chairperson of Municipal Water Board from being employed by Board after resigning as Chairperson. 
• Job description so narrowly tailored that only Board’s Chairperson qualifies fails to satisfy requirements of nepotism guidelines.
• When a public body knows in advance that one of its preferred candidates is a relative, close friend, or fellow member of the public body, public body must follow the Commission’s nepotism guidelines.


2012-06 Elected Member of the Board of Public Works  
• Public official may not endorse business or product of the sponsor of an international government forum that is paying travel expenses related to forum.
• Must notify forum participants that the West Virginia Ethics Act prohibits him from endorsing a particular product and that presentation relating to fraud control should not be construed as endorsement of the sponsor’s business or product.
• Appearance at international government forum paid for by business which has financial relationship with State provides benefit to West Virginia by allowing State to be recognized for achievements in fraud control and allowing first-hand observation of Australian state governments’ approach to financial management and procurement. 
• Must decline invitation to participate in proposed meetings with senior level government officials because these meetings do not provide an overriding benefit to the State of West Virginia.

2012-07 Mayor
• 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.

2012-11  County Commissioner
• Ethics Act permits living with county employee as long as nepotism rules followed.
• W. Va. Code § 61-10-15 prohibits living with county employee even if nepotism rules followed and/or even if employee transferred to another county office.


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
• 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.

2012-15 Sheriff
May use his public title to endorse Chief Deputy or other candidate for public office, including through newspaper advertisements or radio announcements. 
May not spend public funds for these purposes.  

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. 
 

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.

2012-19 Member of the Legislature
• May be retained to provide consulting services to Public University during and after his term of office.
• Conflict of interest cured by his removal from potentially overlapping committees.
Must consult with Presiding Officer of his house and abide by appropriate legislative voting rule.
• May not use influence of legislative position to attempt to affect the actions of University personnel to enhance his contractual benefits; introduce, sponsor or advocate legislation to benefit the University in any way; influence either the State’s distribution of federal grant money or State funds to the University for any purpose, not just those related to his consulting contract; or influence the appropriation of public funds to benefit the University in any way.

2012-20 Public University  
• May use public funds to purchase prizes or incentives, including gift cards, for wellness related competitions or promotions when prize recipients include University employees.
• $25.00 gift limit not applicable because wellness program administrators are not interested parties to recipients.
• May use reasonable amount of public funds for wellness-related incentives so long as there is a rational basis for such expenditure.

2012-21 Local Health Department
• Any person or public entity subject to the Ethics Act may seek advisory opinion about their own prospective conduct. 
• Public servant members of non-profit entity that oversees and distributes federal grants to their employers must recuse themselves from considering, evaluating, discussing, ranking, and/or overseeing funding decisions, including the funding matrix. 
• Possibly permissible for non-profit organization to handle funding allocation matters if:
• the non-profit entity and its board are truly independent of the State of West Virginia and the local health departments; 
• as a matter of law, the state agency has clear legal authority to give this funding authority to the non-profit entity generally;
• the state agency has legal authority to delegate a portion of its executive powers to a non-profit organization; and     
• the relevant federal grant guidelines expressly permit this delegation of authority to the non-profit entity.


2012-22 Ambulance Authority  
•May not use public funds or staff to promote passage of levy when levy proceeds will be used for its employees’ salaries.
•Executive Director or Board Members, or both, may publicly speak in favor of levy.
•May use public funds to educate public about levy process, nature of services provided by agency, and purpose for which levy funds will be used.
•May, in advertisements paid for with public funds, encourage public to vote on issue, but may not advocate for passage of levy.
•Neither Executive Director nor Board Members may require nor pressure employees to support levy.
•Employees must perform volunteer campaign activities, if any, on their own time, not during their public work hours.
•May not solicit monetary support for passage of levy.
•May use unsolicited gift to promote passage of levy under these conditions:
• expenditures shall either avoid reference to agency taking position; or
• state that request for support is made by supporters of Authority and levy.

2012-23 Member of the Legislature 
• May serve as Recorder for municipality; limitations apply.
• May not use legislative position to influence appropriation of monies to municipality.
• Must perform statutorily mandated recorder duties while serving in the legislature in order to lawfully receive compensation.
• Commission has no jurisdiction to rule whether member’s service as recorder is constitutional or the applicability of the common law doctrine of incompatibility.

2012-24 Mayor
• 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.


2012-27 State Licensing Board  
• May provide working meal to members and any staff required to be present at Board meeting as part of their job duties.
• May spend reasonable amount of public funds for meals at meetings when meeting takes place at a time or is of such length that it makes the same reasonable.
• May not recess or adjourn meeting to go to an off-site location to consume a meal paid for with public funds.  A meeting should not be scheduled at private locations unless those locations are in a public area fully accessible to the public at no cost.
• May not order lavish meals; instead, it must exercise fiscal responsibility in expending public funds on meals.
Must base decision to purchase meal upon a legitimate government reason.
• Must determine whether funds are available to cover this expenditure.
• Should check with Auditor’s Office to ensure expenditures does not run afoul of laws or regulations governing authorized expenditures.

*** This opinion does not extend to local governmental officials and agencies, e.g. City Council Members, County Commissioners or other local agencies.


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.

2012-31 Circuit Clerk
• May not recommend or allow letter of support for a product, service or business of an interested person absent an overriding public benefit. May be listed on vendor’s promotional materials solely as a previous customer.  Any language that tends to refer to public servant or entity as a “satisfied customer” or otherwise serves to promote or endorse vendor expressly prohibited.
• May not appear in advertisement for a product, service, or business absent an overriding public benefit.

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.


2012-33 Public University Vice-President
• May serve as member of Board of Directors of non-profit organization, so long as he is able to perform his public duties for which he is compensated.
• Service on Board of Directors of non-profit organization constitutes performance of usual and customary duties associated with position or advancement of public policy.

2012-34 Public Agency
May permit employee who was involuntarily denied boarding from a flight while in travel status to accept compensation from airline.

2012-37 Mayor
• $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.

2012-39 County Commissioner
May vote and participate in matters relating to Prosecuting Attorney's office even though he owns a business with County Prosecuting Attorney.  Lacks prohibited financial interest in the operation of the Prosecutor's Office since Prosecutor's salary set by statute.

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.

2012-41 County Board of Health
Licensed septic tank cleaner may serve on County Board of Health.  Application to County Board of Health for tri-annual license does not constitute appearing before agency on which he serves for purposes of contesting issuance of license or permit.

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. 

2012-43 Local Health Department
• May serve as pass-through for grant from private charitable foundation for benefit of two private entities that focus on health when Department derives no financial benefit in serving as pass-through and no employee or member of Department or business with which he or she is associated is party to or has an interest in profits or benefits of grant agreement or any other related contract.
• Serving as pass-through constitutes performance of usual and customary duties associated with office. 

2012-44 State Agency
• May appropriate a de minimis amount of State resources ($1,500) to a related Association to provide matching funds to allow the Association to secure a grant.
• Executive Director of State Agency who serves on the Association’s Board at Agency’s request may be involved in advising Agency regarding distribution of money to Association because serving on Association’s Board is part of Director’s public job duties and Association’s mission is to assist other non-profit entities, not the Director’s public employer
• Chairperson of State Agency who serves on Association’s Board by virtue of his/her private employment with a large non-profit should recuse himself from voting on contributing money to Association.

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 (Private Gain)
• 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. 

2012-50 Sheriff (Private gain)
• May not expend surplus money in Concealed Weapons Fund for meals for staff meetings.
• May not use Concealed Weapons Fund for personal gain of any person(s); must be an authorized expenditure; and any expenditure must be related to law-enforcement purposes or operating needs of Sheriff’s Office, e.g. purchase of office furniture or weapons. 

2012-51 Assistant Attorney General (Private gain)
• May also serve as elected City Council Member.
• Must perform City Council duties on own time, not during public work hours.
• May be required to file time records with Ethics Commission if he has regular work hours at State job, and is authorized to make up hours to perform duties of City Council position.
• Although Ethics Act permits Assistant Attorney General to serve as elected City Council Member, Ethics Commission has no jurisdiction to rule whether West Virginia Constitution permits it, or applicability, if any, of common law doctrine of incompatibility.

2012-52 Municipal Public Servant
• Governing bodies may not allow public employees (or public officials) to use public equipment except for public purposes.
• Use of public equipment for personal benefit violates the Ethics Act’s prohibition against use of office for private gain

2012-53 County Board of Education
• Members do not have financial interest requiring recusal when:
• Three or more Members from same county attended same training,
• Superintendent (or designee) has reviewed and approved reimbursement of group travel expenses, and
• Meeting agenda specifically discloses that travel expense forms for the Members are being approved.
• When one or two Members attend training, recusal is required when Board considers their travel expense reimbursement requests.
• 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.
• Ethics Commission declined to establish bright line rule. 

2013-01 Mayor
• 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. 

2013-02 County Board of Education
• School coach may privately employ School Principal.
• Principal may not evaluate coach who is his private employer, nor make recommendations to BOE concerning his subordinate employee/employer.
• Assistant Principal may evaluate coach so long as Superintendent or designee, who is not Principal’s subordinate, reviews evaluation.
• Prohibition against direct solicitation of business from subordinate relates to commercial transactions such as sale of goods or services, not employment. 

2013-06 State Agency
• Staff may meet with vendors to learn more about their products or services.
• Agency head my not recommend a particular vendor, with limited exceptions.
• If State has sole source contract with vendor, then Agency may advise counties that terms of State contract require using particular vendor(s) or product(s).
• If asked, Agency head not prohibited from communicating to county his opinion on quality of vendor’s services.
• May only give money to vendor if State law expressly authorizes it.
• Agency head may not endorse vendor absent an overriding public benefit. 

2013-07 State Agency
• Members of Legislature may enter into contracts with State of West Virginia, including applying for and obtaining loan/financing from state agency.
• Members of Legislature may not use prestige of position to obtain favorable treatment.
• Members of Legislature, in seeking loan/financing may not use confidential information, if any, obtained as a result of Legislative duties. 

2013-08 County Prosecutor
• Ethics Act does not prohibit spouse’s employment as school nurse in same county.
• County Prosecutor has voice, influence, and control over Board of Education contracts.
• Spouse of a County Prosecutor may work as school nurse in same county since position is considered a teacher for purposes of § 61-10-15.

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. 

2013-10 State University 
• May allow private partner to use University’s name and logo for external marketing purposes solely related to the private partner’s program-related products and services, in exchange for free access to private partner’s information management system because such access provides an overriding public benefit to University.
• May not endorse or promote private partner unless there is an overriding public benefit. Decisions on whether an overriding public benefit exists decided on case-by-case basis. 

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. 

2013-12 Elected Member of the Board of Public Works
• May not endorse private partner in a video on company’s website, even when video legitimately promotes office’s electronic payment program. 

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.

2013-14 Municipal Public Servant
• A municipal judge who also maintains a private law practice may announce his/her appointment to his/her government position on his/her business website.
• A municipal judge may also continue to represent the Municipal Sanitary Board and receive compensation for that position, with limitations

2013-15 County Law Enforcement Officer
• Unless it obtains a contract exemption, a County Commission may not pay the Chief Deputy any additional compensation for performing duties of 911 Director given the overlap between law enforcement duties and responsibilities of 911 Director. This would constitute impermissible compensation for performance of customary duties in violation of §6B-2-5(b).
• §61-10-15 also prohibits the Chief Deputy from accepting additional compensation as 911 Director, because a law enforcement deputy sheriff or chief enforcement deputy, is a public official with voice, influence, or control over the new 911 Director contract.

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.

2013-20 Members of State Legislature
• Members of the state legislature may continue to appear in a TV program for a non- profit foundation where the members received no compensation and had no involvement with solicitation of financial underwriters for future broadcasts.
• Any benefit to the financial underwriters or members of the state is outweighed by the public benefit of the broadcast.

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.

2013-23 Public Service District and its Employees
• A Public Service District may not give unused or out of service items to its employees and the employees therefore, may not sell the same items or keep the proceeds of such sales.
• The Ethics Commission lacks jurisdiction to determine whether an auction website may be used to dispose of such unused or out of service items, or other appropriate disposal of surplus Public Service District property 

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.

2013-25 Board Member of Conservation District
• A Conservation District may not reimburse landowner expenses where the provider is a member of the Conservation District Board unless the Conservation District seeks and obtains a contract exemption from the Ethics Commission.
• A Conflict of interest exists where the elected Board Member of Conservation District Board, votes to approve landowners’ applications to participate in the program and receive reimbursement for lime/fertilizer, and the board member effectively provides these products and services.
• The conflict of interest may not be cured by Board Member’s recusal from voting. Further, the Board Member may not contract with another vendor to provide the services, thereby circumventing the Ethics Act.
• A Conservation District Board member’s failure to respond to an Ethics Commission’s request for additional information, and failure to timely file a Financial Disclosure Statement may constitute intentional avoidance of disclosure, constituting knowing failure, a misdemeanor under WV code §6B-2-10(c).

2013-26 Public Employee of County Development Authority
A Public employee of a County Development Authority who has no direct authority to enter into contracts or control over selection of loan applicants for approval, and his/her spouse may apply for a small business loan through a program the County Development Authority administers. (The loan application must be processed the same as all other applications and the employee may use no influence regarding the application.)

2013-27 Teachers
• 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.

2013-28  Public Employees
• A group of public employees may use a state owned parking garage for a garden in order to distribute produce and flowers to community groups because this activity results in an overriding public benefit.
• The Ethics Commission has discretion to conclude that the public benefit of an activity outweighs the potential for private gain.

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.

2013-31 Elected Member of Board of Public Works
• An elected Member of the Board of Public Works is permitted to allow a private foundation to participate in the State purchase card program, and also to receive rebates from the financial institution.
• The financial benefit to the private foundation would result in an overriding public benefit. The purpose of the private foundation is to support a public institute of higher education. West Virginians are students at the public university. Both the State and the students are beneficiaries of a donation made to a private foundation formed to aid the public university

2013-34 Sheriff's Tax Deputy
• A Sheriff’s Tax Deputy may provide security services to residents and law enforcement throughout the state through a limited liability company with some exceptions.
• The Sheriff’s Tax Deputy is prohibited from charging fees for any goods or services that he or the LLC provides to any government agencies within the county which he/she serves. He/she may not use more than a de minimis amount of public resources for private purposes.
• WV Code § 6B-2-5(o) states there may be no solicitation of private business from subordinate public officials or public employees whom he/she has authority to direct, supervise or control.
• The Sheriff’s Tax Deputy must recuse himself/herself from handling delinquent taxpayer accounts for current or prospective customers of his/her private business.

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.

2013-38 County Council
A County Council may not use public funds for a meal during a dedication ceremony for the Public Safety Building where the public is not invited. Instead, a County Council may spend a reasonable amount of public funds for light refreshments at a public dedication ceremony and hold a private tour of the facility to accommodate safety concerns, if no additional funds are spent for the tour.
 
2013-45 City Police Officers
A municipality may not allow its police officers to participate in a program with a local fast food restaurant where police hand out restaurant reward cards to private citizens for performing good deeds. The Ethics Act prohibits endorsement of products and businesses. No overriding public benefit was established.

2013-46 Municipal Officials and Employees
Neither a municipality, nor its elected officials, or its employees may solicit donations of gift certificates from local restaurants to present as gifts to private citizen volunteers. No overriding public purpose was sufficient to overcome the prohibition against solicitation of the public. Active solicitation of local businesses would violate W.Va. Code § 6B-2-5(c).

2013-47 Town Council Members, County Employee
• Town Council members who are currently employed, or whose spouses are currently employed by the County Board of Education may vote on issues concerning property deeded to the Board of Education.
• W.Va. Code §6B-1-3(b) defines business as “any entity through which business for profit is conducted”. This definition does not include a governing body.
• W.Va. Code § 6B-2-5(d) states that no elected or appointed public official or public employee or member of his/her immediate family or business with which he/she is associated may be a party to or have an interest in the profits or benefits of a contract which the official or employee may have direct authority to enter into or over which he/she may have control.
• W.Va. Code § 6B-2-5(j)(1)(A) states that public officials may not vote on a matter in which they or an immediate family member or a business with which they or an immediate family member is associated have a financial interest.
• The Ethics Commission overrules AO 2012-05, and finds that the Ethics Act does not prohibit a public official from voting on a matter with which his/her public employer has a financial interest. Further, retired employees have no financial interest. Here, a council member who is currently employed by the County Board of Education as a teacher is subject to W.Va. Code§ 61-1-15, but has no voice or control over the contract under these facts.

2013-48 State Agency Employees
A state agency may not allow its death investigators to provide contract services to the county as County Medical Examiners. Investigators would have a conflict of interest as they would be in the position of awarding contracts to one another. If this state agency is unable to find qualified candidates, it may seek a contract exemption from the Ethics Commission.

2013-50 State Agency Employees
State agency employees assigned to various Conservation Districts may participate in a state funded Agricultural Enhancement program that is administered by the Districts because they have no authority or control over these matters. However, state agency employees are cautioned not to take any action related to their own participation in the program except ministerial functions.

2013-51 Commercial Supervisor in County Assessor's Office
• A commercial supervisor in the County Assessor’s office may lease residential property in the county in which he/she is employed, because this property is not subject to his/her regulatory action.
• A commercial supervisor in the County Assessor’s office may not purchase, sell or lease commercial property in the county where he/she works, because either he/she or his/her subordinates take annual regulatory action on this property. (Personal transactions for personal homes are exceptions.)
• A commercial supervisor in the County Assessor’s office may not purchase any commercial property at property tax lien auctions. (The purchase of residential property over which he/she has no regulatory control is permissible at tax auction.)
The only exception is if a property exemption is sought and obtained from the Ethics Commission.
• Any employee of the County Assessor’s office who had the authority to select property for sale at auction and/or control the price or value thereof is prohibited from purchasing the property at auction. Employees of the County Assessor’s office may not engage in real estate transactions, including purchasing property at auction while on the public clock.

2013-52 Board President, County Ambulance Authority
A County Ambulance Authority may purchase property from the brother of its Board President. The Board President’s brother is outside the definition of immediate family and there is no financial relationship between them. The County Ambulance Authority Board President is also not subject to restriction because he/she is a part time appointed official.
The Board President has no financial interest, and therefore may vote on the property purchase. However, favoritism is prohibited in selecting property.

2013-53 County Board of Education
• A county Board of Education member may vote on changing the Board of Education’s financial institution to a local bank in which he/she is a shareholder. He/she holds less than 1% stock so that neither the Ethics Act or W.Va. Code § 61-10-15 prohibit the Board of Education from contracting with the bank in which the board member owns stock. Some limitations apply.
• The board member is prohibited from steering business to this bank, may not use undue influence, and still must recuse himself/herself on votes regarding the bank.
• It is generally impermissible for a county official to have a pecuniary interest in a contract over which he/she has control. (W.Va. Code § 61-10-15(a))
• There is a specific exception for interest in banks in W.Va. Code § 61-10-15(f), though, as long as the person recuses himself/herself from the “deliberations or ultimate determination” of the depository of funds.
 
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.


2013-55 County Assessor
A County Assessor’s adult daughter may purchase property in the same county in which he/she works, as the daughter does not reside with the Assessor, and neither the Assessor nor his/her spouse has an ownership interest in the property.  The Assessor and his/her spouse may also engage in property purchase transactions in the county, if they are for personal residences. (The Deputy Assessor is authorized to assess the Assessor’s property.)


2013-56 Sheriff / Concealed Weapons Fund
A sheriff may not use the Concealed Weapon Fund to pay for flight lessons and airplane rental for such lessons to acquire his/her pilot’s license. Most of the stated reasons for these expenditures resulted in more personal benefit to the sheriff than to the public. (The sheriff would obtain a lifelong pilot’s license, and began serving the last of two consecutive terms in office in January 2013.) Any surplus in the Concealed Weapons Fund on hand at the end of each fiscal year may be expended for other law enforcement purposes or operational needs of the sheriff’s office as the sheriff may consider appropriate. However, expenditures from the Concealed Weapons Fund must satisfy requirements of the Ethics Act and W.Va. Code § 61-7-4(c). Expenditures must be authorized and must benefit the public.


2013-57 County Commission and Emergency Service Employees
A County Commission may not exempt certain emergency services employees from reporting mileage for personal vehicle use as a taxable fringe benefit. Although employees are on call twenty-four hours a day, the IRS exception for clearly marked emergency vehicles is applicable only where employees strictly use vehicles for emergency response, and commuting to and from their jobs. Under the Ethics Act, the personal use of an emergency vehicle is not the usual and customary duties associated with the office. The unauthorized private use of a public vehicle constitutes use of public office for private gain. The potential liability cost and potential for public safety risk when emergency vehicles are out of service due to personal use is too high to allow it as a permissible fringe benefit.


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.


2013-59 State Licensing Board
The Ethics Commission lacked jurisdiction to answer the question presented regarding the licensing board’s enabling legislation, and the potential conflict of interest posed by a member of the State Licensing board accepting a paid position with a private entity and that member’s ability to remain on the state licensing board.  The state licensing board should consult the Governor’s office, which has appointing authority for state licensing board members regarding any potential conflicts of interest.

2013-60 State Licensing Board Member  overuled by AO 2020-05


A member of a state licensing board may not accept a paid position with a private entity and remain on the board. The private entity is a firm that conducts business with professionals that the state licensing board licenses and regulates. The firm contracts with professionals licensed by the state licensing board in order to provide services to participants in government programs. This state licensing board member would be simultaneously responsible for enforcing compliance with regulations over the same people which he/she represents to a private entity.  Under these facts, the public and private roles are too inextricably intertwined and present an impossible impediment to impartiality. This state licensing board member is unable to perform both positions without creating unavoidable conflict of interest and an impermissible use of public office for private gain.

2013-61 Mayor
Is not prohibited from using his /her public position to communicate with other public entities about matters of public concern. It is among the Mayor’s customary duties to communicate on issues directly affecting the city he serves and to use public resources to do so, and these acts do not constitute private gain. In forms of government where the Mayor holds or shares administrative authority, the Mayor may communicate in a public capacity with other public agencies, constituents, organizations, and individuals on behalf of the municipality. 

2014-01 County Economic Development Authority
• May solicit and spend funds to underwrite its “County Day at the Legislature”, including expenditures for lunch, transportation, and costs associated with a reception; including rental fees, and for advertising, printing, and office supplies, because its enabling legislation authorizes such solicitation.
• The Ethics Act generally prohibits a public official or employee from soliciting donations unless the solicitation is for a charitable purpose with no resulting direct pecuniary benefit conferred upon the official or employee, or their immediate family, W.Va. Code § 6B-2-5(c). Soliciting to subordinate public employees is strictly prohibited.
• After funds are solicited and received, they become public funds. These funds may only be expended for an authorized purpose, may not be spent for private gain, and must be spent using fiscal responsibility.

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).

2014-08 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.

2014-11 Sheriff
• May expend funds from the Sheriff’s Concealed Weapons Fund for the purpose of fitness supplies and equipment to assist the Sheriff’s deputies in meeting annual fitness requirements of the position because it falls within the Ethics Act’s definition of usual and customary duties.
• May expend funds from the Sheriff’s Concealed Weapons Fund for the purpose of paying for dry-cleaning of officers’ uniforms because the expenditure meets the Ethic Act’s definition of “the advancement of public policy goals or constituent services”.
• Expenditures from the Sheriff’s Concealed Weapons Fund are public funds, and may not be used for private gain, must be authorized expenditures, and must be related to law enforcement purposes, or the operating needs of the Sheriff’s Office.

2014-12 Sheriff
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.

2014-14 City Council Member/Municipal Employee
• May vote on general issues affecting municipal employees such as better working conditions, including raises, so long as there are more than five municipal employees, as well as issues affecting the overall municipal budget. He may further vote on issues directly affecting other departments which do not employ him.
• May not vote to advocate on behalf of municipal employees in his own department or deliberate on matters specific to that department unless there are five or more employees in that department.
• He must further recuse himself completely from any matters which affect him uniquely.

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.

2014-16 City Hospital
May permit employees to raise funds for coworkers experiencing financial hardship as this activity serves a charitable purpose, with limitations. These charitable funds may not be deposited into the City Hospital’s account. Fundraising activities based on an exchange of value are not gift solicitations and are permissible. City Hospital may permit employees to sell commercial products with limitations. Employees may also sell items for fundraising with limitations. In both instances, there may be no coercion, no solicitation of subordinates, no more than de minimis time and resources used for these activities, and announcements must be posted in areas accessible only to employees, not the general public.

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.

2014-19 State Regulatory Agency
May employ someone who owns stock in a regulated company, and whose spouse is employed in the regulated industry, as its Division Director. Where stock ownership was less than 5%, the director would file Financial Disclosure Statements, would have no authority over contracts, and regulation would be pursuant to statutory formula, employment was permissible. Such employment is not prohibited under revolving door rules, nor would such employment create an inescapable conflict.

2014-20
 Legislator
A legislator may not use the franking privilege to send material that is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate. If a Legislator sends mail using the franking privilege, during any election season when that Legislator's seat is being contested, to recipients selected due to their voting frequency, that action cannot realistically be construed as anything other than an attempt to influence voters in order to win an election. The act of adding a photograph, regardless of the circumstances surrounding its addition, does not violate the Ethics Act. 

2015-04 Legislator
A Legislator may continue to appear in advertising for his own personal business but may not use his title or any public resources to promote his business.

2015-07 College
A College may not use public funds to buy meals for its employees at events held by a local chamber of commerce.

2015-08 Public Service Commission Chairman
• Chairman of Public Service Commission Board may not take or withhold any action with the intent to improperly benefit a conflicted Board member or another person as opposed to benefitting the PSD.
• The Ethics Act does not, per se, require the Requester to delay a Board meeting or disclose information to the Board which causes him to believe that a conflict exists which would prohibit another member from legally voting under the Ethics Act.

2015-11 Public Officials
Public officials’ official websites may include an official’s photograph on home page or biographical pages or sections, but multiple photos should not be used. If official played a role in selecting, editing or approving content of educational materials which were printed with private funds, and disseminated materials to public, multiple photographs of officials should not be used. Items classified as trinkets under W. Va. Code § 6B-2-5c, and banners and table skirts containing an official’s name and photo, may not be used even if they were purchased before effective date of statute. 

2015-12 County Sheriff
Utilization of excess home incarceration funds may be used to purchase police cruisers, Tasers and fixed radar units for Sheriff’s Office under the Ethics Act. Use of funds for equipment to be used by Home Confinement Officers is acceptable.

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. 

2015-14 County Ambulance Authority
It would be a violation of the Ethics Act for the Executive Director of a County Ambulance Authority to request and receive a personal loan from the County Ambulance Authority for the purpose of transferring from the Public Employees Retirement System to the Emergency Medical Services Retirement System.

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.

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.

2015-22 Cabinet Secretary
• May use staff to handle business and social aspects of a conference his agency is hosting as conference provides an overriding public benefit. 
• May not solicit donations to fund the conference because it does not constitute a “charitable purpose” under the Ethics Act. 

2015-23 Elected State Official​
May host telephonic town hall meetings, but the official’s name may not be used in the recorded message played in conjunction with the meeting.  The official may not conduct telephonic town hall meetings in the 60 days immediately before a primary, special or general election.  These limitations do not apply to telephonic town hall meetings conducted with campaign funds. 

2016-09 State Agency Manager
State agencies may use public funds, within reason, to purchase kitchen appliances such as water coolers, including water for the coolers, coffee makers, microwave ovens, toaster ovens and refrigerators for use by state employees at work because the individual private gain to employees is counterbalanced by an overriding public benefit to state agencies.  

2016-11 State Legislator
May purchase business cards with private funds that replicate his State-issued business card on one side and display his campaign information on the other provided that both sides of the business cards state that they are paid for by the Legislator.  The Opinion cautions that the Ethics Act prohibits any use of state resources, including the Legislator’s state telephone and email address, in furtherance of his personal re-election campaign.  

2016-14 Municipal Fire Department
Municipal Fire Department may purchase coffee with public funds for its guests in its main lobby as long as purchasing coffee is an authorized expenditure under the relevant state laws, rules and opinions. Fire Department’s expenditure of funds for coffee for its employees is de minimis.  Ethics Commission did not determine whether purchasing coffee for public employees in general is permissible.  

2016-16 State Agency
A State Agency may produce and sell calendars because the calendars fall within the usual and customary duties of the State Agency to provide information and education to the public.  The State Agency may donate a de minimis amount of proceeds from the calendars to a memorial fund that aids in providing plaques and maintenance to the West Virginia Fallen Firefighter Memorial.  The agency may solicit donations on behalf of the memorial fund because providing plaques and maintenance to the West Virginia Fallen Firefighter Memorial constitutes a charitable purpose.  The agency may not solicit donations to underwrite its duty to provide public education and information.  This Opinion is based upon the specific facts of this request and may not be relied upon in other situations.

2016-18 Prosecutor-elect
The Prosecutor-elect, upon becoming Prosecutor, may not consider hiring the outgoing former Prosecutor to serve as a special prosecutor in a position funded by a grant the former Prosecutor assisted the county and a local nonprofit organization in obtaining.   

2017-05 Manager of a Legislative Office
Public employee would not violate the Ethics Act by joining a purchasing cooperative even though it would result in a sales commission to the vendor’s representation because the expectation of future benefits provides an overriding public benefit sufficient to justify the private benefit to the sales representative. 

2017-07 Manager of a Legislative Office
Microsoft’s Home Use Program “HUP” is not a prohibited gift or private gain to employees due to the following circumstances: HUP is offered to all eligible employees; HUP is not offered to impair the impartiality of employees with the authority to determine whether to do business with Microsoft; HUP is made available to a large group of customers, and HUP adds no additional cost to the public agency.

2017-08 State Agency
A State Agency charged with providing health care benefits to public employees may contract with a private company to provide a wellness program that offers financial rewards to public employees. 

2017-13 Elected Mayor
An elected mayor’s private business may participate as a vendor at a municipal association conference.  He may be a speaker at the conference in his private capacity. He must instruct the association that it may not endorse his business or encourage participants to conduct business with his business. His public position may be referenced in biographical information and when he is introduced as a speaker.

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 2011-18

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.

2018-02 A County Commission 
The Ethics Commission was unable to determine whether there is implied or express authority for a county commission to use public funds to buy lunches for county elected officials and their staffs for an annual working lunch meeting.  If the Office of the Attorney General or Auditor’s Office opines there is express or implied authority for the expenditure, then the expenditure of public funds for this purpose would not violate the Ethics Act.

2018-03 State Agency Manager
Following the restrictions imposed by an agency’s applicable State Travel Rules satisfies the requirements of the Ethics Act when determining when it is reasonable for a public employee to book and seek reimbursement for overnight lodging while on official business.

2018-04 A State Agency Manager
Before purchasing meals for its officials or employees, public agencies should review applicable laws to determine whether there is express or implied authority for the expenditure.  When a meal is authorized, reimbursement at a rate established by the West Virginia Travel Rules does not violate the Ethics Act.   Nothing in the Opinion grants express or implied authority to spend public funds for meals under the Ethics Act. 

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.

2019-02 A State Agency Manager
A State Agency may use public funds to print personal contact information on elected officials’ business cards because communicating with constituents is part of the usual and customary duties associated with the office and providing the personal contact information makes officials more accessible, which serves a public purpose.  The use of personal contact information does not have the primary purpose of promoting the elected officials, so the use of public funds to print business cards with personal contact information does not violate the name or likeness provision’s prohibition on advertising.

2019-11 Town 
The Ethics Commission was unable to determine whether donating police cruisers to a private college was permissible under other state statutes, common law or elsewhere.  If donating the cruisers to the college is allowable, doing so would not violate the Ethics Act.

2019-13 An Officer of a State Agency 
A state agency officer may use his personal rewards cards when purchasing gasoline with a state-issued credit card and keep the bonus points for his personal use.

2019-14 A City Police Officer
A city police officer may not include pictures of himself in uniform in his campaign material because the police uniform conveys the endorsement of his police agency, which is the type of private gain the Ethics Act is intended to prohibit.

2019-17 A State Board Member 
A part-time appointed State Board member may, in his private capacity and for private pay, teach continuing education courses to licensees because the State Board has delegated the responsibilities for approving courses to its Education Committee and staff, the Requester does not serve on the Education Committee and he is not otherwise involved in approving continuing education courses. Limitations to this ruling are set forth in the Opinion.
Distinguishes Advisory Opinion 2006-14 by finding that a board member may teach continuing education courses when the board has delegated the responsibility of approving courses to staff and a committee on which he does not serve.

2019-18 State Employee
May seek election to a county public office.  He may not campaign during public work hours or use public resources to subsidize campaign.  

2019-21 State employee
May simultaneously serve as a part-time elected mayor.  He must perform his mayoral duties on his own time and not during his public work hours unless he takes annual or unpaid leave.

2019-24 Town Council 
May not approve and pay an invoice submitted by the previous mayor’s wife if the previous mayor made, participated in making, or in any way attempted to use his office to influence the town’s decision with respect to his wife’s work.

2019-25 A City Treasurer
A city may provide meals to employees who are required to work beyond their normal work schedule due to an unscheduled emergency such as a water line break. Providing meals under these circumstances does not constitute prohibited use of office for private gain because there is a counterbalancing public benefit to having city employees remain on-site to respond to an emergency.


2019-26 A State Agency
A state agency may fund raise and solicit donations to assist potential foster families in meeting requirements for their homes to become approved foster homes and to fund rewards and incentives to students who display positive behaviors because fundraising is not prohibited by the Ethics Act and the solicited donations would be used for charitable purposes.

2019-29 A Sheriff's Office Employee
A Sheriff’s Office Employee may seek election to a partisan public office.  He may not campaign during public work hours or use public resources to subsidize his campaign.

2020-01 State Agency 
A state agency’s technician may not include “licensed pesticide applicator” on his public work e-mail when the certification is wholly unrelated to the technician’s job duties and when the technician is seeking to provide pesticide services as part of a private business venture.     

2020-03 A State Appeals Board member 
The Ethics Act does not prohibit a State Appeals Board member from serving as a member of a Political Executive Committee.  While nothing in the Ethics Act prohibits a public official from serving as a member of a Political Party Executive Committee, the Commission has no jurisdiction to rule whether other laws or policies prohibit it.


2020-04 Governor
The Governor may use state aircraft for trips to and from Lewisburg to destinations outside of Charleston on official state under the following conditions:
     (i) the primary purpose of the flight from Lewisburg is justified by an official public policy
                reason, e.g., security or scheduling needs, and not merely for the convenience of the
                Governor; 
     (ii) the flight from Lewisburg is not being used as a pretext to engage in non-state
                business, and
     (iii) the Governor must document the specific justification for using state aircraft for each
                flight from Lewisburg.

The Governor may participate in personal and campaign activities following his state work and before his return flight in state aircraft under the following conditions:  
     (i) the primary purpose of the trip is for official state business;        
     (ii) the trip is not being used as a pretext to engage in non-state business, and      
     (iii) any additional meals, lodging, or other travel expenses that the Governor incurs in
                serving a secondary purpose, e.g., a campaign or personal function, must be paid by
                the source associated with that secondary purpose.


2020-05 A part-time State Board member
A part-time State Board member may be employed by a professional association whose members are regulated by the State Board on which he serves. Overrules Advisory Opinion 2013-60

2020-08 A Chief Deputy Sheriff
A chief deputy sheriff may not include pictures of her badge in her campaign material.

2020-09 A Retired City Police Officer  
The Ethics Act does not prohibit a retired city police officer who is also a candidate for sheriff from wearing his uniform in his campaign material.  

2020-14  Sheriff
A sheriff’s office may use public funds to install a fence at a K-9 handler’s private residence for security and liability purposes.

2021-01 County School Superintendent
A Board of Education may pay the Superintendent’s attorney fees for the defense of a pending ethics complaint if the Board of Education finds that paying the attorney fees and other defense costs is in the best interest of the Board of Education and that the three-part test in Powers v. Goodwin, 291 S.E.2d 466 (W. Va.1982) has been satisfied.  

A Board of education may procure liability insurance which may provide a defense to its Superintendent or other school officials and personnel for a pending ethics complaint if it has legal authority to do so and it serves a public purpose.

2021-02 Mayor
May appear in a video using his name and public title to promote and solicit donations for a local nonprofit drug and alcohol recovery center as it provides a charitable purpose.

2021-04 Prosecutor

A Prosecutor may not continue to employ her boyfriend because he received an unfair advantage in the hiring process as the Prosecutor did not advertise the position.​


2021-05​ County Commission

The Ethics Commission held that a County may have paid advertisements on its tourism website.  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.​


2021-06 College Professor​
Public higher education institutions may use public funds for meals for college-approved student events, regardless of whether the event is held on or off campus, if the expenditure is for a legitimate government purpose.
A public higher education institution may not exclusively invite one candidate for public office to speak about his or her platform to a class. 

2021-07 County Assessor
May park his county-assigned vehicle at his home to use for travel related to his public duties. 

2021-08​ County Board of Education
The Ethics Act does not require a member of a Board of Education (“BOE”) to recuse herself from updates on a lawsuit filed against the BOE by a sibling, who is a former employee of the BOE, when there is no financial relationship between the siblings and the lawsuit does not relate to the sibling’s prior employment with the BOE (partially overrules Advisory Opinions 1999-19, 2011-15 and 2011-16).

2021-15 County Health Department
Agency may not allow its employees to use their agency-provided cellular phone as their personal cellular phone unless the employees pay a reasonable fee to the agency.  Employees may not use their agency-provided cellular phone for commercial or political campaign purposes. The de minimis use of an agency-provided cellular phone for personal purposes is permissible. 

2021-19​ Town Recorder
The Ethics Act does not prohibit a town employee from bringing a cup that contains a campaign slogan to work at Town Hall.  The employee may not display the cup on her desk in a manner that makes the campaign slogan visible to the public because it could constitute the use of public resources to advertise a political party.

2021-16 Board of Education Member, Public Employee
The Ethics Act prohibits a board of education  member or employee from using board of education facilities on terms more favorable than those available to the public. 

2021-21​ County Board of Education
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)

2021-23 County Commission​
The Ethics Commission held that if the County Commission determines that building the proposed waterline extension project benefits the County by promoting tourism or economic development, then using American Rescue Plan funds for the project would not violate the Ethics Act even if the developer may uniquely benefit from the project.

2022-02 County Commission Employee 
A county commission employee may be a candidate for and hold office on city council. She must comply with the restrictions in the Opinion. 

2022-06 County Board of Health President 
The Ethics Act does not prohibit a member of the Board of Health, including the President, from being an unpaid member of the board of directors of a nonprofit hospital/health system when the only other health system in the County is not represented on the Board of Health.
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