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Agency Overview
During the Watergate scandal of the early seventies, Americans were confronted with deceit and misuse of power by elected officials. Citizens across the nation began calling for accountability from their governments. In response, Oregon was one of the first states to create laws designed to open government to greater public scrutiny.
 
In 1974, more than 70 percent of the voters approved a statewide ballot measure to create the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. The ballot measure also established a set of laws (ORS Chapter 244) requiring financial disclosure by certain officials and creating a process to deal with the inevitable question of conflict of interest. The drafters of the original laws recognized that "conflict of interest" is, indeed, inevitable in any government that relies on citizen lawmakers.
 
The Oregon Legislature changed the agency´s name to Government Standards and Practices Commission (GSPC) in 1993.   The Oregon Legislature during the legislative session of 2007 changed the agency's name back to Oregon Government Ethics Commission.  The OGEC has seven volunteer members. Four members are appointed by the Governor upon recommendation by the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Oregon House and Senate. The Governor selects three members directly. All members must be confirmed by the Senate. No more than four of the members may be from the same political party. The law allows members to serve only one four-year term.
 
The OGEC is administered by an executive director selected by the commissioners.  The commission also employs two investigators, two trainers, a program analyst, and two office support staff who are appointed by the executive director.
  
The manner in which the OGEC reviews alleged violations of law is prescribed in detail in ORS 244.260. While it is subject to strict statutory requirements, the OGEC process is not intended to be rigid or intimidating.
 
OGEC staffers are available for informal questions and discussions about statutes, administrative rules and the commission’s process. Public officials are encouraged to meet with OGEC staff at any time.
 
The OGEC members and staff consider that they are doing their job most successfully if they can help public officials avoid conduct that violates the relevant statutes. They encourage people to inquire into any point of the statutes prior to taking any action that may violate Oregon Government Ethic law, Lobbying Regulation law or the Executive Session provisions of Public Meetings law.
 
Agency Jurisdiction
 
Oregon Government Ethics law (ORS Chapter 244):
 
 
  • Prohibits use of public office for financial gain
 
  • Requires public disclosure of financial conflicts of interest
 
  • Requires designated elected and appointed officials to file annual disclosures of sources of economic interest
 
  • Limits gifts that an official may receive per calendar year
 
  • Applies to all elected and appointed officials, employees and volunteers at all levels of state and local government in all three branches
 
Lobby Regulation law (ORS 171.725 to ORS 171.785):
  • Requires lobbyists to register
 
  • Requires lobbyists and the entities they represent to file periodic expenditure reports
 
  • Specifies prohibited conduct, such as contingency lobbying

Executive Session provisions of Public Meetings law (ORS 192.660 and ORS 192.685):
  • Authorizes specific, limited reasons for which a public body may meet in a closed session