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The Joint Commission on Public Ethics issues advisory opinions interpreting Public Officers Law sections 73, 73-a, and 74, commonly referred to as the "Ethics Law", Civil Service Law section 107 and the Legislative Law Article one-a, commonly referred to as "the Lobbying Act". Upon request, the Commission issues formal opinions upon approval of a majority of the Commission members. Formal opinions, which are made public, are binding on both the Commission and the individual requesting the opinion in any subsequent proceeding, provided the requesting individual acted in good faith and neither omitted nor misstated any material facts on which the formal opinion is based. Each formal opinion discusses the application of the law to the particular facts presented in the request and serves as precedent for future cases.
When formal opinions have established precedent or the law is clear, the Commission will issue informal advisory opinions. Issued by the Executive Director or designee, written informal opinions are not binding on either the Commission or the requesting individual, but serve as guidance. The Executive Director is authorized to determine whether there is controlling precedent or whether the scope of the inquiry requires a formal opinion. Individuals who receive informal opinions, which are confidential, may request a formal opinion from the Commission.
Please note the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 (Ch. 399 of the Laws of 2011) does not revoke or rescind advisory opinions issued by the Commission on Public Integrity, the Legislative Ethics Commission, the State Ethics Commission and the Temporary State Commission on Lobbying. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics in conjunction with the Legislative Ethics Commission will review all regulations and advisory opinions to address the consistency of each opinion and regulation with the new statutory language. Before February 1, 2015, the Commission, in conjunction with the Legislative Ethics Commission, will report to the Governor and the Legislature the results of this review and issue any advisory opinions necessitated by such review.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics issues legal guidance to individuals and entities within its jurisdiction. If you seek such guidance, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your full name and title, affiliation, contact information and a description of your circumstances.
Advisory Opinions Issued by: