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How to Request an Opinion
If I have a question about the Oregon Government Ethic statutes, what can I do?

The easiest course is to pick up the phone and call the staff of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission (OGEC) at (503) 378-5105. You can also make an appointment to visit in person with a staff member. Some issues that are not clearly described in the statutes may be explained more fully in a brief conversation.
 
OGEC staff are knowledgeable about the statutes and quite familiar with past and current commission interpretations. Furthermore, they are committed to providing accurate advice and preventing violations of the statutes whenever possible.
 
Can I receive advice in writing from the OGEC?
 
The OGEC may issue an opinion in response to a written question. The commission does not provide a form for requesting an opinion. Simply state your request in a letter delivered to the OGEC. Remember to include all of the facts concerning your situation. The commission issues advisory opinions only before proposed official action occurs.
 
A Staff Opinion is an informal opinion that addresses only the application of Lobbying Regulation law or Government Ethics law to the facts stated in the request.  Any relevant information, which was not included by the requester of this opinion in the stated facts, could completely change the outcome of this opinion. Other laws or requirements may also apply. The opinion does not exempt a public official from liability under applicable law for any action or transaction carried out in accordance with the opinion. The opinion is the personal assessment of the executive director of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.
 
On many simple issues, an informal staff response can provide the necessary information and commission staff can generally respond in a very short time.
 
An Advisory Opinion is issued by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission pursuant to ORS 171.776 or ORS 244.280. A public official or business with which a public official is associated shall not be liable under Lobbying Regulation law or Government Ethic law for any action or transaction carried out in accordance with this opinion. The opinion is limited to the facts set forth in the request.
 
Formal advisory opinions are discussed and approved by the full commission and are reviewed by an assistant attorney general.  Conducting the research and asking the commission to approve the opinion may take some time depending on the complexity of issues presented and the commission’s meeting schedule.
 
Under certain circumstances, the commission may choose not to issue an advisory opinion. For instance, if the situation is similar to one in which an advisory opinion has already been issued, the commission may not authorize a formal advisory opinion. The commission will direct staff to respond in a letter and refer to existing opinions.
 
What if I am still not certain after receiving a response?
 
When in doubt, don’t. If you are uncertain about the legality of an action after receiving a response from the OGEC, your best move is to refrain from the action in question.
 
If you have questions about an action, it is likely that others will have similar concerns.  The best way to protect yourself from review, investigation and penalties -- as well as the related publicity and public scrutiny -- is to avoid any action that potentially violates OGEC laws.
 
If I ask for advice in any manner, will I trigger an inquiry into my conduct?
 
Not if the request relates to official action that has not yet taken place. If the facts presented indicate that a violation of the statutes has occurred, the commission may initiate a preliminary review.