2004 Legal Opinions and Advisories

March 24, 2004
A Corporation Counsel opinion was sought as to whether the Ethics Code would be violated if the wife of a County Board Supervisor is a member of a law firm representing a union of county employees.  Corporation Counsel opined that this would not be an Ethics Code violation because this would fall under the Ethics Code exception for lawful payment of salaries.
April 14, 2004
The Ethics Board sought an opinion from the Corporation Counsel as to whether the Ethics Board would have to release documents pertaining to an ongoing investigation pursuant to an open records request.  The Corporation Counsel opined that the Ethics Board would not have to release records pertaining to an ongoing investigation.  In State of Wisconsin ex rel. Richards v. Foust, 165 Wis. 2d 429 (1991), the Supreme Court held that prosecutorial files are exempt from public access.  The Corporation Counsel opined that the Ethics Board acts in the role of prosecutor when conducting investigations and therefore does not need to release documents related to an investigation while the investigation is ongoing.
April 26, 2004
The Ethics Board sought an opinion from the Corporation Counsel as to whether the SEI form can be changed by action of the Ethics Board or if the changes would require County Board Approval.  Corporation Counsel opined that the Ethics Board has the authority to change the form, but if the County Board finds the changes unacceptable, it may overrule the actions of the Ethics Board.
May 14, 2004
The Ethics Board issued an advisory opinion concerning the use of county resources by county officials and/or employees for private personal uses.  The Ethics Code prohibits any effort to realize personal gain through one’s position with the county.  This includes use of county property for personal reasons.  Violations include but are not limited to: the private use of county-owned vehicles by county employees; personal use of county resources assigned to an individual or department for county use; personal use of any materials, including surplus or scrap materials; and/or personal use of materials which may be on or are being removed from a county work site.  Any such behavior is strictly prohibited, even if it is sanctioned or approved by a county department or supervisor.

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