Tutorial for Elective Officials

 

Question 1:

A county elective official is at a conference and is invited to attend a cocktail reception. The cocktail reception has an open bar. The reception is open to everyone who is in attendance at the conference. May the official attend?

 

 

 

 

Question 2:

A county elective official is attending a golf tournament at a county park. A cocktail reception with an open bar is included for all attendees. However, there is also a special V.I.P. tent by invitation only. A lobbyist invites the official to join him in the “V.I.P. tent” where he will be served beverages by staff instead of having to wait in line. The lobbyist tells him that only a select few are invited. May the official go to the V.I.P. tent?

 

 

 

 

Question 3:

Under the same set of facts in Question 2, may the official attend the reception in the V.I.P. tent if he pays for his own drinks instead of accepting the complimentary beverages?

 

 

 

 

Question 4:

A county elective official is on a committee that is responsible for reviewing bids that are being considered for a county contract. The official is also up for re-election. The owner of one of the companies that submitted a bid wants to make a contribution to the official’s campaign. May the elected official accept the donation?

 

 

 

 

Question 5:

The county selected and approved the bid submitted by the business from Question 4. Now that the contract is no longer under consideration, may the business owner make a contribution to the official’s campaign?

 

 

 

 

Question 6:

A registered lobbyist who lobbies the County Board sends two Milwaukee Brewers tickets to a county supervisor. The lobbyist says he is unable to attend the game and does not want the tickets to go to waste. May the supervisor accept the tickets? 

 

 

 

 

Question 7:

A county supervisor owns a small private corporation.  Must the supervisor disclose the corporation on her Statement of Economic Interests form?

 

 

 

 

Question 8:

A county supervisor also works as an accountant in addition to his responsibilities as an elective official. The accounting business is not incorporated – the supervisor works as a sole proprietor. Must the supervisor disclose the sole proprietorship on his Statement of Economic Interests form?

 

 

 

 

Question 9:

A county elective official needs to hire a part-time assistant for her office. The official thinks that her son, who is living with her while attending college, would be perfect for the job. May the official hire her son?

 

 

 

 

Question 10:

A county official is on a committee that is responsible for reviewing bids for county contracts. The official’s friend owns a company and wants to submit a bid. The friend calls the official at home and asks him for inside information about the county’s criteria for judging the bids that are not available to the other bidders. What should the official do?

 

 

 

 

Question 11:

A county elective official is up for reelection. May the official obtain nomination signatures from the employees that work in her office?

 

 

 

 

Question 12:

Some county elective officials have been asked to attend a conference hosted by a national association. A third party, who is not a lobbyist, offers to pay for food, transportation and lodging. May the officials accept?

  

a.         Yes, but only if the conference is related to their duties as county officials.

 

b.         Yes, but only if the officials pay for half the costs out of their own pockets.

 

c.         No, an elected official may never accept free food, transportation or lodging.

 

 

 

 

Question 13:

Several county supervisors have been asked to attend a conference hosted by a national association. A lobbyist who lobbies the County Board offers to pay for food, transportation and lodging. May the supervisors accept?

 

 

 

 

Question 14:

A county elective official is asked to give a luncheon speech about county government at a local business conference. The official was asked to give this speech because of her position as a county official. Afterwards, the conference organizer sends the official a check for $500 with a note explaining that this is payment for speaking at the conference. May the official keep the $500?

 

 

 

 

Question 15:

A county elective official wants to give his assistant a small gift to thank her for a job well done on a recent project, so he purchases her a $100 gift certificate to her favorite restaurant. Is this permissible?

 

 

 

Question 16:

A county elective official is too busy with work to pick up her dry cleaning, and she needs her suit for a committee meeting that evening. May the official send her administrative assistant to pick up her dry cleaning for her?

 

 

 

 

Question 17:

A county elective official is up for reelection and is working on his campaign. May the official use the printer and computer in his county office to print fliers promoting his reelection?

 

 

 

 

Question 18:

A county elective official’s husband serves on the board of directors for a non-profit organization in Chicago. Must the official disclose this on her Statement of Economic Interests? 

 

 

 

 

Question 19:

An elective official decided to attend a work-related conference out of state. Since the conference is work-related, the county pays for everything: airfare, hotel, food and the conference registration fee. But, when the official gets there, instead of attending the conference, he decides he would rather sightsee.  The official registers on the first day of the conference but does not attend any of the sessions and tours the city instead.  Is this an Ethics Code violation?

 

 

 

 

Question 20:

Summerfest sends ten free tickets to a county supervisor. To avoid an Ethics Code violation, the supervisor sends the tickets back. Must the supervisor disclose the tickets on his Statement of Economic Interests form?

 

 

 

 

Question 21:

Another county supervisor who received ten Summerfest tickets put the tickets in his desk drawer and forgot about them. The supervisor never used the tickets, but more than 30 days have passed since he received them. Must the supervisor report the tickets on his Statement of Economic Interests form?

 

 

 

 

Question 22:

A county supervisor’s term in office expires and she decides to seek private employment instead of running for reelection. The former supervisor gets a job as a lobbyist with a large firm that regularly lobbies the county. May she lobby the County Board on behalf of her new employer?

 

 

 

 

Print your Certificate of Completion, sign it, and forward it to your departmental payroll section to include in your personnel file.

 


 

Answer Key

 

Answer 1:
b – While it is true that an elective official cannot accept anything of value that could be expected to influence his or her actions or judgment or be construed as a reward for past or future action (M.C.G.O. §§ 9.01 and 9.05), an elective official is allowed to accept food and drink offered in connection with a conference or seminar as long as the food and drink are offered to all attendees on the same terms and conditions.

 

Answer 2:
c – An elective official may only accept food and drink offered at events if the food and drink are offered to all attendees on the same terms and conditions. Therefore, the official cannot go to the V.I.P. tent unless every single person at the event is given the same opportunity. In addition, the official must consider why the lobbyist is making this offer. If the offer could reasonably be construed as an attempt to influence the official’s actions, the official cannot accept.

 

Answer 3:
b – The official may be able to access the V.I.P. tent, but only if he pays for his own drinks, and it could not be reasonably construed that going to the tent is an attempt to influence the official’s actions. The official must ask himself whether there is any value in accepting the invitation – even non-monetary value, such as the opportunity to mingle with local V.I.P.’s. If there is any value associated with the invitation, the official must decline, even if he were to pay for his own drinks.

 

Answer 4:
a – No person with a financial interest in the approval or denial of a contract or proposal that is in the process of being considered by a county department may make a campaign contribution to any county elected official who has approval authority over that contract during its consideration (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(k)). Contract consideration begins when a contract is submitted to a county department or to an agency funded or regulated by a county department and continues until the contract has reached final disposition, including adoption, county executive action, proceedings on veto (if necessary) or departmental approval. Here, the business owner has a financial interest in the approval of his company’s contract. Therefore, while the contract is being considered, the official may not accept a campaign contribution from the business owner.

 

Answer 5:
b – An elective official is allowed to accept a campaign donation when the contract is no longer under consideration. The business owner’s campaign donation is not to be construed as a reward for the official’s actions on the contract if the donation is made before or after the period of contract consideration, and it would not be an Ethics Code violation for the official to accept the donation.

 

Answer 6:
c – The Ethics Code prohibits an elective official from accepting anything of value if it could reasonably be expected to influence his or her official actions or judgment(M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(b)). Since the lobbyist lobbies the County Board, the supervisor’s acceptance of the tickets could be reasonably expected to influence his judgment, and the supervisor may not accept the tickets.

 

Answer 7:
a – The Ethics Code requires an elective official to report all significant fiduciary relationships, organizations associated with and offices and directorships held(M.C.G.O. § 9.04(1)(a)).

 

Answer 8:
a – The accounting business is still considered a significant fiduciary relationship and an organizational association, and must therefore be reported. “Organization” means any stock or non-stock corporation, partnership, proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, incorporated or unincorporated association, trust or other legal entity other than an individual or body politic (M.C.G.O. § 9.02(13)).

 

Answer 9:
b – An elective official is prohibited from using his or her public position to obtain financial gain or anything of substantial value for an immediate family member (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(a)). This includes hiring a family member. “Immediate family” means an individual’s spouse, or a child, parent, sibling, in-law or step-relative of the same degree who receives, directly or indirectly, more than one-half of his or her support from the individual or from whom the individual receives, directly or indirectly, more than one-half of his or her support. Since the official’s son lives at home with her and receives more than one-half of his support from her, he is considered an immediate family member. Therefore, the official may not hire her son for the job.

 

Answer 10:
b – The Ethics Code prohibits an elective official from divulging privileged information that has been acquired during his or her office with the county which in any way could result in financial gain to the official or any person (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(d)). Therefore, the official cannot give his friend any inside information that was not provided to other bidders.

 

Answer 11:
c – County officials and employees may not engage in any political activity at work. This includes: wearing or displaying campaign material, distributing campaign literature, soliciting contributions for any candidate, engaging in political campaign activities for any candidate, or circulating nomination papers for any elective office (M.C.G.O. § 9.06(1)). Therefore, the official may not obtain nomination signatures while at work. There is nothing prohibiting an official obtaining a signature from an employee while they are not at work.

 

Answer 12:
a – In general, an elective official cannot use his or her position for private benefit or accept anything of value that could reasonably be expected to influence the official’s actions or judgment or be construed as a reward for past action(M.C.G.O. §§ 9.01 and 9.05). However, a county official is allowed to attend a conference at a reduced price or for no charge, and accept travel and lodging, as long as the event is primarily related to the official’s duties and the accommodations are sanctioned by the event organizer and primarily benefit the county. Before accepting any travel or lodging from anyone other than the county, an official should seek approval from the Ethics Board.

 

Answer 13:
b – Since the food, transportation and lodging are being paid for by a lobbyist who lobbies the County Board, the supervisors may not accept. Allowing the lobbyist to pay for the food, transportation and lodging could be construed as accepting something of value that could reasonably be expected to influence the officials’ actions or judgment or be construed as a reward for past action, and would therefore be a violation of the Ethics Code (M.C.G.O. §§9.01 and 9.05).

 

Answer 14:
c – Yes, the official may keep the honorarium subject to certain conditions. A county elective official may receive and retain compensation for a speech only if the speech is accomplished without the use of the county’s time, resources or property, and is done outside the course of the official’s official duties (M.C.G.O. § 9.14(3)). The honorarium must also be reported on the official’s Statement of Economic Interests (M.C.G.O. § 9.14(2)(a)).

 

Answer 15:
c – County officials are prohibited from giving anything over $25 in value to county employees besides the regular payment of salary (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(f)).

 

Answer 16:
b – County officials may not use any county resources for personal use. This includes using a county employee for personal reasons.

 

Answer 17:
c – County equipment cannot be used for personal reasons. Campaign activities are not part of a county official’s official duties, and county time and property may not be used for campaign activities.

 

Answer 18:
a – An elective official must identify every organization with which she or her spouse is associated. “Associated” means “any organization in which an individual or a member of his/her immediate family is a director, officer, or trustee, or who has a significant fiduciary relationship or an individual who owns or controls, directly or indirectly, and severally or in the aggregate, at least ten (10) percent of the outstanding equity,”(M.C.G.O. § 9.02(2). “Organization” means any stock or non-stock corporation, partnership, proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, incorporated or unincorporated association, trust or other legal entity other than an individual or body politic (M.C.G.O. § 9.02(13)). The official must therefore disclose her spouse’s affiliation with the non-profit organization.

 

Answer 19:
c – A county official is prohibited from using his or her public position to obtain financial gain or anything of substantial value (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(a)). A county official is also prohibited from using county resources for personal use. Therefore, if a county official uses county funds to attend a conference or conduct other business out of town, the official’s primary purpose for that trip must be county-related. It would have been permissible for the official to sightsee in his down time, but the primary purpose of the trip would have had to be attending the conference. Here, the official did not attend to any county business on the trip, and he has therefore violated the Ethics Code.

 

Answer 20:
c – In general, an elective official must report any lodging, transportation, money or other thing with a combined pecuniary value exceeding $50. However, if an official returns any gift or payment within 30 days of receipt, the gift need not be reported (M.C.G.O. § 9.14(2)(b)). Since the official returned the Summerfest tickets within 30 days of receiving them, the official does not need to report the tickets on his Statement of Economic Interests.

 

Answer 21:
a – If an official receives and retains any gift or payment for more than 30 days, it must be reported on his or her Statement of Economic Interests, regardless of whether or not the official uses the item or returns it after the 30 days.

 

Answer 22:
c – No former county official may make any formal or informal appearance for compensation before the county department with which he or she was associated with for a period of 12 months following date on which he or she ceases to be a county official (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(3)). Therefore, the former county supervisor must wait 12 months before she can lobby any county department or any individual in that department for compensation on behalf of her new employer.

 

 


 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer 1:

b – While it is true that an elected official cannot accept anything of value that could be expected to influence his or her actions or judgment or be construed as a reward for past or future action (M.C.G.O. §§ 9.01 and 9.05), an elected official is allowed to accept food and drink offered in connection with a conference or seminar as long as the food and drink are offered to all attendees on the same terms and conditions.

 

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Answer 2:

c – An elected official may only accept food and drink offered at events if the food and drink are offered to all attendees on the same terms and conditions.  Therefore, the official cannot go to the V.I.P. tent unless every single person at the event is given the same opportunity.  In addition, the official must consider why the lobbyist is making this offer.  If the offer could reasonably be construed as an attempt to influence the official’s actions, the official cannot accept.

 

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Answer 3:

b – The official may be able to access the V.I.P. tent, but only if he pays for his own drinks, and it could not be reasonably construed that going to the tent is an attempt to influence the official’s actions.  The official must ask himself whether there is any value in accepting the invitation – even non-monetary value, such as the opportunity to mingle with local V.I.P.’s.  If there is any value associated with the invitation, the official must decline, even if he were to pay for his own drinks.

 

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Answer 4:

a – No person with a financial interest in the approval or denial of a contract or proposal that is in the process of being considered by a county department may make a campaign contribution to any county elected official who has approval authority over that contract during its consideration (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(k)).  Contract consideration begins when a contract is submitted to a county department or to an agency funded or regulated by a county department and continues until the contract has reached final disposition, including adoption, county executive action, proceedings on veto (if necessary) or departmental approval.  Here, the business owner has a financial interest in the approval of his company’s contract.  Therefore, while the contract is being considered, the official may not accept a campaign contribution from the business owner.

 

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Answer 5:

b – An elected official is allowed to accept a campaign donation when the contract is no longer under consideration.  The business owner’s campaign donation is not to be construed as a reward for the official’s actions on the contract if the donation is made before or after the period of contract consideration, and it would not be an Ethics Code violation for the official to accept the donation.

 

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Answer 6:

c – The Ethics Code prohibits an elected official from accepting anything of value if it could reasonably be expected to influence his or her official actions or judgment (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(b)).  Since the lobbyist lobbies the County Board, the supervisor’s acceptance of the tickets could be reasonably expected to influence his judgment, and the supervisor may not accept the tickets.

 

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Answer 7:

a – The Ethics Code requires an elected official to report all significant fiduciary relationships, organizations associated with and offices and directorships held (M.C.G.O. § 9.04(1)(a)).

 

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Answer 8:

a – The accounting business is still considered a significant fiduciary relationship and an organizational association, and must therefore be reported.  “Organization” means any stock or non-stock corporation, partnership, proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, incorporated or unincorporated association, trust or other legal entity other than an individual or body politic (M.C.G.O. § 9.02(13)).

 

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Answer 9:

b – An elected official is prohibited from using his or her public position to obtain financial gain or anything of substantial value for an immediate family member (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(a)).  This includes hiring a family member.  “Immediate family” means an individual’s spouse, or a child, parent, sibling, in-law or step-relative of the same degree who receives, directly or indirectly, more than one-half of his or her support from the individual or from whom the individual receives, directly or indirectly, more than one-half of his or her support.  Since the official’s son lives at home with her and receives more than one-half of his support from her, he is considered an immediate family member.  Therefore, the official may not hire her son for the job.

 

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Answer 10:

b – The Ethics Code prohibits an elected official from divulging privileged information that has been acquired during his or her office with the county which in any way could result in financial gain to the official or any person (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(d)).  Therefore, the official cannot give his friend any inside information that was not provided to other bidders.

 

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Answer 11:

c - County officials and employees may not engage in any political activity at work.  This includes: wearing or displaying campaign material, distributing campaign literature, soliciting contributions for any candidate, engaging in political campaign activities for any candidate, or circulating nomination papers for any elective office (M.C.G.O. § 9.06(1)).  Therefore, the official may not obtain nomination signatures while at work.  There is nothing prohibiting an official obtaining a signature from an employee while they are not at work.

 

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Answer 12:

a – In general, an elected official cannot use his or her position for private benefit or accept anything of value that could reasonably be expected to influence the official’s actions or judgment or be construed as a reward for past action (M.C.G.O. §§ 9.01 and 9.05).  However, a county official is allowed to attend a conference at a reduced price or for no charge, and accept travel and lodging, as long as the event is primarily related to the official’s duties and the accommodations are sanctioned by the event organizer and primarily benefit the county.  Before accepting any travel or lodging from anyone other than the county, an official should seek approval from the Ethics Board.

 

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Answer 13:

b – Since the food, transportation and lodging are being paid for by a lobbyist who lobbies the County Board, the supervisors may not accept.  Allowing the lobbyist to pay for the food, transportation and lodging could be construed as accepting something of value that could reasonably be expected to influence the officials’ actions or judgment or be construed as a reward for past action, and would therefore be a violation of the Ethics Code (M.C.G.O. §§9.01 and 9.05). 

 

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Answer 14:

c – Yes, the official may keep the honorarium subject to certain conditions.  A county elected official may receive and retain compensation for a speech only if the speech is accomplished without the use of the county’s time, resources or property, and is done outside the course of the official’s official duties (M.C.G.O. § 9.14(3)).  The honorarium must also be reported on the official’s Statement of Economic Interests (M.C.G.O. § 9.14(2)(a)).

 

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Answer 15:

c – County officials are prohibited from giving anything over $25 in value to county employees besides the regular payment of salary (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(f)).

 

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Answer 16:

b – County officials may not use any county resources for personal use.  This includes using a county employee for personal reasons.

 

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Answer 17:

c – County equipment cannot be used for personal reasons.  Campaign activities are not part of a county official’s official duties, and county time and property may not be used for campaign activities.

  

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Answer 18:

a – An elected official must identify every organization with which she or her spouse is associated.  “Associated” means “any organization in which an individual or a member of his/her immediate family is a director, officer, or trustee, or who has a significant fiduciary relationship or an individual who owns or controls, directly or indirectly, and severally or in the aggregate, at least ten (10) percent of the outstanding equity,” (M.C.G.O. § 9.02(2).  “Organization” means any stock or non-stock corporation, partnership, proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, incorporated or unincorporated association, trust or other legal entity other than an individual or body politic (M.C.G.O. § 9.02(13)).   The official must therefore disclose her spouse’s affiliation with the non-profit organization.

 

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Answer 19:

c – A county official is prohibited from using his or her public position to obtain financial gain or anything of substantial value (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(2)(a)).  A county official is also prohibited from using county resources for personal use.  Therefore, if a county official uses county funds to attend a conference or conduct other business out of town, the official’s primary purpose for that trip must be county-related.  It would have been permissible for the official to sightsee in his down time, but the primary purpose of the trip would have had to be attending the conference. Here, the official did not attend to any county business on the trip, and he has therefore violated the Ethics Code.

 

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Answer 20:

c – In general, an elected official must report any lodging, transportation, money or other thing with a combined pecuniary value exceeding $50.  However, if an official returns any gift or payment within 30 days of receipt, the gift need not be reported (M.C.G.O. § 9.14(2)(b)).  Since the official returned the Summerfest tickets within 30 days of receiving them, the official does not need to report the tickets on his Statement of Economic Interests.

 

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Answer 21:

a – If an official receives and retains any gift or payment for more than 30 days, it must be reported on his or her Statement of Economic Interests, regardless of whether or not the official uses the item or returns it after the 30 days.

 

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Answer 22:

c – No former county official may make any formal or informal appearance for compensation before the county department with which he or she was associated with for a period of 12 months following date on which he or she ceases to be a county official (M.C.G.O. § 9.05(3)).  Therefore, the former county supervisor must wait 12 months before she can lobby any county department or any individual in that department for compensation on behalf of her new employer.

 

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