2003 Legal Opinions and Advisories

June 24, 2003
An elected county official requested an opinion regarding whether the Ethics Code would be violated if he funded a reception, as part of his official duties, through private donations from event sponsors.  The Corporation Counsel opined that this would not be a violation of the Ethics Code because this event was part of the official’s duties and was not intended for personal benefit.  In this instance, the county was the main beneficiary, since the county would have been responsible for funding the event if the event had not been funded by sponsorships.  If the official were to personally benefit from the event (for example, by distributing campaign literature), then an Ethics Code violation would occur.
July 30, 2003
A Corporation Counsel opinion was sought as to whether a County Board Supervisor must report on his Statement on Economic Interests, pursuant to § 9.15 of the Ethics Code, the value of meals received by him and his spouse at a conference they attended.  Corporation Counsel opined that § 9.15, Milwaukee County General Ordinances, does not require the reporting the value of food or beverage received incidentally with a conference, nor does it require reporting of anything received by a spouse.
October 14, 2003
A Corporation Counsel opinion was sought as to whether County Supervisors may use county funds to finance newsletters for distribution to their constituents.  The Corporation Counsel opined that County Supervisors may use public funds to distribute newsletters, provided that the newsletters are for informational purposes only.  Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 11.33, such newsletters may be distributed up until the first day authorized for the circulation of nomination papers as a candidate (thus, in Milwaukee County, the last day for the distribution of a county-financed newsletter would be November 30 of any year).

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