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 Voting and Recusal

1997-23 County Commission/Economic Development Authority 

A  County Commission/Economic Authority may issue bonds that may benefit a company for which a county commissioner/ EDA member works as his financial interest is too remote to prohibit it.  The member should not vote on the issuance of the bonds.   [This decision was based on Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed.]


1997-29 ​State Board Member

A State Board member may vote on a proposed project which may benefit his public employer because no private gain results.

1998-02 City Council Member

A City Council member may not vote on a matter that indirectly affects his client because the matter was “personal” to him.  [This decision was based on Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed.]


1998-08​ County Board of Education Member

A County Board of Education member who is a retired teacher may vote to increase stipend amounts to retirees due to class exception.

1999-11 City Council Member

A City Council member who is a trustee of the city’s VFD may vote on matters affecting a class of individuals.

[This decision was based on Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed.]


1999-19​ Board of Education Member

A Board of Education member may not vote on the outcome of litigation she was initially involved in because it was “personal'' to her.  [This decision was based on Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed.]

2000-02 Municipal Hospital Board Member

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


2000-10State Commission Members

State Commission Members may not vote on licensing and rate-making proceedings if their licenses would be directly affected as a result.  Member’s license would be directly affected due to the limited availability (40) of licenses.


2000-13 County Board of Education

A County Board of Education may purchase gas transported through lines owned by the Member's employer under W. Va. Code § 61-15-10 because it is the sole source of that service available to the Board.  Not prohibited under the Ethics Act because the member lacks ten percent ownership interest.  The member may not vote on the contract. (The ten percent ownership exception is no longer in the Ethics Act.)


2000-17 County Board of Education Member

A Board of Education Member may not vote on a personnel matter that could significantly impair his tenant's ability to pay his rent.


2000-23 County Board of Education Member

A County Board of Education Member may purchase electricity from the spouse's employer that was the sole source of electricity, but may not vote to pay bills from the utility company that employs her spouse.


2000-27 City Council Member

A City Council Member may not vote on a matter concerning a foundation that has been represented in other matters by the member’s law firm. [This decision was based on Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed.]


2000-34 County Board of Education Members

County Board of Education Members may vote on settling a grievance affecting a county commissioner who is one of 15 current and former teachers who filed the grievance.


2000-35 County Board of Education Member

A County Board of Education Member who had a workers’ compensation claim may vote on matters involving the company hired by the county to administer its workers compensation claims.


2000-37 County Board of Education Member

A County Board of Education Member need not recuse himself if it is necessary to maintain a quorum.  


2000-41 County Board of Health

A County Board of Health may sell a health delivery service to a non-profit on whose board a board of health member sits.  The Board member should be recused from consideration of what organization to sell the service.  

2001-29 City Council Members

City Council Members may not vote on matters affecting a company employing them or paying them retirement benefits.  [This decision was based on Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed.]

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2002-05 Registered Lobbyist  

A Registered Lobbyist may not serve on the Citizens Legislative Compensation Commission, pursuant to the Commission's Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed. 


2002-13 City Council Member

A City Council member may not vote on a motion to appoint himself to serve as Mayor, a full-time compensated position.

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2003-04 Mayor

A Mayor may be temporarily employed by the city as the city manager.  Mayor has a clear financial interest in the matter, so his recusal is required. 


2003-10 Board of Education Member 

A Board of Education member may vote on matters regarding a private business in which her children have an interest, via a trust, pursuant to the Commission's Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed.  


2003-12State 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.  


2004-03 Planning Commissioner 

A Municipal Planning Commissioner may not vote, pursuant to the Commission's Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed, on a zoning request involving an adjacent contiguous property.  Class exception does not apply due to the commissioner's unique financial interest. 


2004-04 County Commissioner 

A County Commissioner may not vote on a motion to pay his attorney fees because the matter was "personal" to him, per  the Commission's Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed.  The voting restrictions are now in the Act and do not contain a "personal" matter voting prohibition. 


2004-06 State Board Member

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.​


2004-17 State Board Member 

A State Board Member may not vote on a complaint investigation if he had a personal interest in the matter, pursuant to the Commission's Legislative Voting Rule, Title 158, Series 9, which has since been repealed.


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. 


2005-06 City Council Member
A City’s procedural rule purporting to require a Council Member to vote despite abstention at direction of presiding official are inconsistent with state ethics statute that requires public servants refrain from voting on matters in which they have a personal financial interest.

2005-12 County Planning Commission
Board Member may not vote on matters regarding developers or contractors who are current business customers

2005-14 County Commission
May adopt more specific recusal procedure

2006-06 State Legislator
Voting on matters relating to employer controlled by rules of each house
 
2006-09 City Mayor 
Voting permitted where only hypothetical private gain involved 
Not voting recommended to avoid appearance of impropriety

2009-04 County School Board Member
May vote on matters pertaining to the continuation of superintendent employment contract despite civil litigation against superintendent by school board member's employer's department head since school board member lacks financial interest in outcome of lawsuit.

2009-06 City Council Member
May vote on matters relating to a church in which he is a member absent a financial interest


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 par​t, 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.


2009-14  Part-time Appointed Board member of a Public Agency
Member must recuse herself from discussion, deliberation and decision-making on all matters related to a contract between the Agency and her employer since she is the Executive Director and oversees the contract on her employer's behalf.

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 so long as the common Board member does not vote on any matters relating to the non-profit and recuses himself from the decision-making process and vote.  (This portion overruled by AO 2011-12; common Board member is no longer required to recuse himself, and may vote.)


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.
 
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.


2011-02  County Council Member 
County Council Member’s business may contract with a multi-county Conservation District under the following circumstances:
(1) the contract is let via a sealed bid process;
(2) the project is not funded by County money;
(3) the project is not the subject of an agreement between the District and the County including any agreement for flood control as authorized by W.Va. Code § 19-21A-13 ; and (4) the affected Member recuses himself from the District’s appropriation request or any request for funding. 

Opinion does not authorize the employment of County Commissioners or County Council Members, their spouses or dependents, by Conservation Districts in the County where they serve. 


2011-09 County Hospital 
• County Hospital may accept unsolicited offer of equipment and related services from appointed board member.
County Hospital may accept unsolicited offer of real property from appointed board member so long as:  there are no financial conditions associated with the property transfer; 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.


2011-12 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.

Overrules portion of AO 2010-04 wherein member of a non-profit board was prohibited from voting as a member of the Board of Education.


2011-15 - An Appointed Member of a Board of Health
An Appointed Member of a Board of Health who is the past president of a fraternal organization which sued the Board of Health is required to recuse himself from being involved in deliberations or votes relating to the lawsuit.
An Appointed Member of a Board of Health who has business interests affected by the Board of Health regulations may vote on regulations or policies which govern smoking in public places.  The fact that he is a member and/or officer of an organization which has an interest in Clean Air regulations does not prohibit him from voting on the Clean Air regulations as five or more such organizations are affected.


2011-16An Appointed Member of a Board of Health
An appointed Member of a Board of Health who is a member of a fraternal order which belongs to a fraternal organization which sued the Board of Health is required to recuse himself from being involved in deliberations or votes relating to the lawsuit. 
An Appointed Member of a Board of Health who is a member of a non-profit fraternal order which has an interest in Board of Health regulations may vote on Clean Air Regulations or other policies.  The member does not have a financial interest in the fraternal order, and does not need to recuse herself.


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.


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.


2012-07  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.


2012-13  Member of a County Board of Education (BOE)
May contract with a public university to supervise university students during their placement in public schools in the county where he serves so long as he does not use any public resources, including BOE staff, to perform his private contractual duties. 
Agreement between public university and BOE not a public contract.


2012-17 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.


2012-21 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.


2012-24 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.


2012-37 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


2012-39  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.


2012-41 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. 


2012-44 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.


2012-46 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. 


2012-48  State Licensing Board 
• May not hire candidate for executive director when candidate rents from Board Member who is also subject to the Board’s regulation. 
  • Although candidate received property exemption to lease from Board Member, its terms require him and his subordinates to be removed from all matters affecting Board Member. 
  • Impossible for candidate to comply with requirements of property exemption due to Board’s small staff, administrative structure, and business relationship between candidate and Board Member.


2012-47 County Commission
• May appoint a County Commissioner to serve as a voting member of a County Ambulance Authority, a subunit of county government.
• Should consult with its attorney on whether other laws permit proposed self-appointment, especially when enabling legislation does not specifically authorize self-appointments and position is compensated.
• County Commissioner does not have prohibited financial interest and may vote on matters affecting the County Ambulance Authority which come before County Commission.


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. 


2013-03 Solid Waste Authority
• Member/banker who has been directly involved in approving loans for Board Member/waste hauler within past 12 months must recuse himself from matters affecting Member/waste hauler, unless he is affected as member of class of five or more.
• If Member/banker is only a bank board member who has not been directly involved with loans to Member/waste hauler, then recusal is not required. 


2013-11 State Legislator
• State Legislator may not sponsor legislation relating to issue upon which he advised a client of his private law practice prior to his election to Legislature when bill uniquely affects his client, rather than class of five or more.
• Presiding Officer determines whether to excuse Legislator from voting.


2013-18 County Commissioner
A County Commissioner may vote on the finances of his/her county board, including insurance contracts.
The County Commissioner has no financial interest in the insurance firm seeking the board’s patronage, but is merely a customer of the insurance firm under consideration.


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.


2013-24 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).
 
2013-30 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.


2013-32 Town Council Member
A town council member may vote on matters related to the local branch of a nonprofit organization even though his/her father will be its Vice Chairperson. (The town council member’s father is not an employee of the nonprofit organization.)
Nonprofit does not fall under the definition of “business” under the Ethics Act.


2013-35 Housing Authority Inspector/Mayor
• A Housing Authority may continue to employ a part time inspector who was recently elected Mayor of a nearby town, with limitations.
• The Mayor must recuse himself/herself from any matters regarding his Housing Authority employer.
• If the Mayor also serves as Municipal Judge, additional care must be taken when citizens under his/her authority as housing inspector appear in municipal court. He/she must disclose the conflict, and if requested by either party, must recuse himself/herself. The Mayor will also be prohibited from presiding as municipal judge when he/she performed a housing inspection for a party within the last six months.


2013-47 Town Council Members, County Employees
•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.


2013-53 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.


2013-58 County Commission/Regional Drug Court Team
• A Regional Drug Court Team and its Advisory Board may contract with a County Commissioner to provide dental services to a drug court participant, with limitations.
• The contract for dental work must be let out via a sealed bid process, dental work must not be funded by or comingled with funds from the county commission, and the affected county commissioner must recuse himself/herself from any Drug Court requests for funding directed to the County Commission.
• This dental work was to be paid for from individual donations and grants, and voluntary allocation of County Commission funds did not constitute direct authority or control. 


2014-05 County Board of Education
• May purchase a scoreboard from an athletic booster organization, a private, non-profit charitable organization, despite having a member who is common to both the governing body and the private organization.
• Common member to each organization is not compensated by the athletics boosters organization, has no financial relationship with the boosters organization, and is not a party to the boosters organization loan for the scoreboard.
• Common member is not required to recuse him/herself on any matters related to any contract or transaction between the governing body and the boosters. Non- profit organizations are not encompassed in the Ethics Act definition of a “business” in W.Va. Code § 6b-1-3(b).
• Neither W.Va. Code § 61-10-15 nor 6B-2-5(d)(1) prohibits the contract, as the common member does not have a personal interest in the contract, and the non-profit’s financial interest cannot be imputed to the common member by virtue of his position on the non- profit board, without evidence that he/she receives financial benefit in the transaction.


2014-10 Members of City Council
• May vote, despite being potentially affected by ward boundary adjustment.
• No distinction is made between members of city council who plan to run for reelection versus those who do not. Each is voting on an issue which will impact the status of future city councils, not the current city council of which they are a part. Neither current city council member has a direct interest, financial or otherwise, in the terms of future elected officials for purposes of the Ethics Act.


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. 


2014-23 Board of Education
Board of Education (BOE) employees and retirees and their spouses may serve as county commissioners and may vote on funding requests made by the BOE.


2014-24 County Economic Development Authority
Executive director of county economic development authority (EDA) may be employed by the EDA and serve as a member of the board of the county public service district. 


2014-25 County Economic Development Authority
Board member of county economic development authority (EDA) may serve as a common board member to both the EDA and public service district (PSD), and the Requester may vote on any matters between the EDA and the PSD.


2015-01 Legislators
Legislator may continue his employment during the Legislative session as an attorney with a company that employs registered lobbyists when the legal services he provides are unrelated to the company’s lobbying activities.  


2016-01 City
Requires no approval from the Ethics Commission in the absence of the City Engineer participating in the types of decisions contemplated by 7 CSR 1-12.4(g).


2016-03 Municipal Board Member
May vote on whether to grant a variance to a real estate developer who may receive a letter of support or favorable public comment from a non-profit organization on whose board he also serves.


2016-04 City
A city may continue to employ its mayor as city administrator.  The city may not show favoritism or give special treatment in making employment or personnel decisions affecting the mayor in his capacity as city administrator.  The mayor must recuse himself from the vote and deliberation on personnel matters which directly affect him.
The Ethics Commission overrules AO 2006-05 and AO 2012-04, in part.


2016-13 City Council Member
A City Council member who is also a member of a neighborhood association and in a class of five or more similarly situated homeowners may vote on whether the city approves the development of a hilltop.  


2017-12 A County Commissioner
Neither the Ethics Act nor W.Va. Code § 61-10-15 prohibits an employee or board member of a county parks board from being employed by a Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (“CVB”) or serving on a CVB board even if the parks board provides some in-kind support to the CVB.    A parks board member who is also employed by the CVB may not vote on the appropriations of money or the awarding of a contract to the CVB. 


2017-14 County Commissioner
May vote on county contract with a contractor who is also a customer of the Commissioner’s construction supply business when the contractor does not use the Commissioner’s supplies on county projects because he lacks a prohibited financial interest in these county contracts.


2017-17 A County Planning Commission Member
County planning commission members may not attend public hearings before the planning commission on which they serve on projects with which they are associated.  They may, however, pursuant to a specific exception in the Ethics Act and related Code provision, communicate with planning commission staff outside of meetings and public hearings regarding the projects.   


2017-19 County Planning Commission
Planning Commission members whose businesses use signs are not required to recuse themselves from matters related to the sign ordinance because they fall within a class of five or more similarly situated businesses that would not be uniquely affected by changes to the sign


2017-22 A State Agency
A part-time 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


2018-09 A City
A city council member does not have a prohibited interest in a city’s proposed public contract to purchase property adjacent to the member’s residence and 28 other residences because the benefit to the member is not selective, differential or in disproportion to the benefit provided to the other 28 owners.  The member may deliberate and vote on the purchase as a member of a class because he is similarly situated to the other 28 owners.


2019-06 County Commission
• May appoint three County Commissioners to serve as three of five members of a Parks and Recreation 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.
• County Commissioners do not have prohibited financial interest and may vote on matters affecting the Parks and Recreation Authority. 


2019-08 A Mayor   
A Mayor may vote on matters affecting a proposed hotel development project near properties he owns because he is a member of a class of five or more similarly situated persons who own property near the hotel project.

No provision in the Act dictates whether a public agency may require the recusal of one of its members or exclude him or her from discussions and votes. 


2019-10 A County Commissioner 
A County Commissioner may participate in executive sessions, discussions and votes involving general matters that affect the County Development Authority on which her son serves as a member.  She may not participate in matters which uniquely affect her son such as a disciplinary action against him. 


2019-11 Town
The Ethics Act’s voting provision for appropriations to non-profits, at W. Va. Code § 6B-2-5(j)(1)(D), prohibits Town officials who are also current employees of a private, non-profit college from voting on whether the Town donates cruisers to the college.  The voting provision does not prohibit retired college employees from voting.


2019-15 Town Council Member 
May vote to approve payroll at future Town Council meetings when an incumbent mayor previously cast a tie-breaking vote on a motion to approve the second reading of an ordinance that increased the mayor’s salary for the next term of office. The Ethics Act does not require the Council member to determine whether another official’s actions violate the Ethics Act, and no facts suggest that the Council member is taking an affirmative step with the intent to improperly benefit a public official by voting to approve payroll at future meetings. 


2019-22 County Airport Authority Member 
A hotel’s financial interest in the Airport Authority’s vote to create a Convention and Visitors Bureau is too speculative to prohibit an Airport Authority member from voting because the county commission, not the Authority, decides whether to raise the hotel occupancy tax rate.  If the Hotel uses the parent company’s hangar space through its lease with the Airport Authority or the parent’s airfield passes, the Requester may not vote on these matters.


2019-23 County Airport Authority Member
A hotel’s financial interest in a county Airport Authority’s vote to create a Convention and Visitors Bureau is too speculative to prohibit an Airport Authority member from voting because the County Commission, not the Airport Authority, would decide whether to raise the hotel occupancy tax rate.


2020-06 County Commission
County Commissioners may participate in determining the validity of a lien against an estate if the County Commission has a lien against the estate for delinquent emergency ambulance service fees because the individual County Commissioners do not generally have a financial interest in the probate of estates.


2020-07 A City Council member
A City Council member may vote on the City’s budget which contains a line item appropriation to her public employer, a County Public Library.  


2020-12 A County Commissioner  
The Ethics Act does not prohibit a county commissioner from carrying out the required ministerial duties of a board of canvassers in canvassing an election when the county commissioner is also a candidate in the elections.  This decision is to be contrasted with county commissioners improperly judging an election contest or otherwise acting contrary to West Virginia election law. 


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).


2021-12 Municipal Officials ​

A Mayor must recuse himself from matters related to a for-profit emergency services organization to which the municipality makes annual appropriations because he is an officer and/or a board member.  As a for-profit organization, the organization qualifies as a business.  A City Recorder and Council Members must recuse themselves from matters related to a business if they own five percent or more of the outstanding stock. ​


2021-13​ A County Board of Education Member

A county board of education member may be employed as a teacher by a private, nonprofit school which contracts with the BOE to provide educational and behavioral health services to students in the County School System due to a five-part exception in W. Va. Code § 61-10-15.   Discusses the rules on voting on the BOE budget as it relates to the nonprofit school and the prohibition on voting on invoice payments to the nonprofit school. 


2021-14​ A County Commissioner

The County Commissioner’s business owns one of 100 parcels subject to a Corridor Development Plan of the County’s Comprehensive Plan; therefore, he is a member of a class of five or more similarly situated persons, and he may vote on matters relating to modifying the Plan. 


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)


2022-03 City Council Member ​

A city council member’s son may serve as the city’s municipal judge.  The council member may not participate in or vote on matters affecting his employment or working conditions unless the matter affects him as a member of a class of five or more similarly situated individuals. 


2022-04 County Commissioner

A county commissioner does not have a financial interest in a TIF district by virtue of his employment by a business that has financial ties to the corporation requesting the TIF, and he may vote on the TIF application.   


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.  ​Must follow voting rule applicable to appropriations made to and contracts with non-profits.

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