Cumulative Digest of Ethics Advisory Opinions

2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005


2000 Opinions

EAO No. 425 (2000) – The term "public servant" includes an individual who has been selected as a state employee, even if the individual has not yet assumed his or her duties.

In some circumstances the bribery law in section 36.02 of the Penal Code, the gift restrictions in section 36.08 of the Penal Code, and the honorarium law in section 36.07 of the Penal Code, would prohibit a law firm from making a severance payment, a payment of moving or relocation expenses, or a payment of other benefits to a lawyer currently employed by the firm who has accepted an offer of future employment with a state agency.

EAO No. 426 (2000) – All tasks that are part of a regulatory agency's involvement in negotiating or executing a book endorsement contract are part of the "matter" of the book endorsement.  If a former state employee had offered advice or analysis in connection with the matter of the endorsement, he or she could not receive compensation for writing any part of the material that would be the subject of the contemplated endorsement.

EAO No. 427 (2000) – A charitable contribution made in honor of a public servant is not a "benefit" to the public servant if the public servant does not exercise discretion over the decision to make the contribution to a particular organization.

EAO No. 428 (2000) – The expenditure reporting requirements in the lobby law apply only to expenditures made to communicate with an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch of state government to influence legislative or administrative action.

The expenditure restrictions in the lobby law apply regardless of whether an expenditure is made to communicate with an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch of state government to influence legislative or administrative action.

EAO No. 429 (2000) – A disbursement made to repay all or part of the principal of a campaign loan does not count as an expenditure for purposes of the expenditure limits in the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act.

EAO No. 430 (2000) – A candidate or officeholder may use political contributions to make expenditures to purchase, operate, and maintain an asset with a combination of political contributions and personal funds, but political contributions may not be used to pay any costs attributable to personal use of the asset.

EAO No. 431 (2000) –  It is a misuse of state resources for a legislator to use legislative staff members to gather information for use at a campaign fundraiser.


2001 Opinions

EAO No. 432 (2001) – A candidate or officeholder may not use political contributions to pay a license fee unless the license is required for the office held or sought.

EAO No. 433 (2001) – A contribution to a judge to defray expenses incurred in defending himself against charges of judicial misconduct is an "officeholder contribution" for purposes of title 15 of the Election Code.

A judge may use surplus political contributions to defray expenses incurred in defending himself against charges of judicial misconduct.

A permissible officeholder contribution under title 15 of the Election Code is a permissible benefit under section 36.08 of the Penal Code.

There is an exception to the requirement to report certain gifts on a personal financial disclosure statement for a gift reported as required under title 15 of the Election Code.

EAO No. 434 (2001) – A candidate may use political contributions to pay a niece or nephew for campaign work in a situation in which the amount of compensation is based on the fair market value of the work performed.

EAO No. 435 (2001) – Political advertising in the form of a business card must include the information required by Election Code section 255.001(a).

EAO No. 436 (2001) – ** Opinion History** A member of the Texas Legislature may not use political contributions to make a contribution to a speaker candidate unless the member is able to demonstrate that the member obtained the funds from a source that is permitted to make contributions to a speaker candidate.

EAO No. 437 (2001) – A former state officeholder may contribute unexpended political contributions to any generally recognized affiliate of the political party with which the former state officeholder was affiliated when his name was last on the ballot.

EAO No. 438 (2001) – If two state regulatory agencies work together on a particular project, one agency's decisions in regard to the project constitute a separate matter from the other agency's decisions in regard to the project for purposes of the revolving door prohibition in section 572.054(b) of the Government Code.

EAO No. 439 (2001) – A candidate for the office of statutory county court judge may not use contributions accepted in connection with the office of municipal judge to campaign for the office of statutory county court judge.

EAO No. 440 (2001) – The Ethics Commission has no authority to issue an opinion about the legal effect of a private real estate transaction.

EAO No. 441 (2001) – There is nothing in the statutes under the Ethics Commission's jurisdiction that would prohibit a state employee from participating in an employment interview.  As our opinion states, the remaining questions presented cannot be resolved without a consideration of all relevant facts.


2002 Opinions

EAO No. 442 (2002) – Section 255.006(c) of the Election Code requires the use of the word "for" in certain campaign materials to clarify that the candidate does not hold the office sought.  The political advertising at issue in this opinion does not comply with section 255.006(c).

EAO No. 443 (2002) – For purposes of section 255.003, the "spending" of public funds includes the use of facilities maintained by a political subdivision.

The prohibition in section 255.003 of the Election Code applies to any use of a political subdivision's resources for political advertising.

This opinion does not apply to the use of the facilities of a political subdivision in a situation in which the facilities function as a public forum.

EAO No. 444 (2002) – Section 253.1611 of the Election Code contains restrictions on a judge's or judicial candidate's use of political contributions to make political contributions to political committees. There is an exception to those prohibitions in section 253.1611(e) for "a political contribution made to the principal political committee of the state executive committee or a county executive committee of a political party that: (1) is made in return for goods or services, including political advertising or a campaign communication, the value of which substantially equals or exceeds the amount of the contribution." That exception does not include a requirement that the provision of goods or services precede the contribution to the party committee. A contribution under the exception in section 253.1611(e)(1) is permissible, however, only if there is a definite agreement that the party committee will provide specific goods and services at a specific time.

The exceptions in section 253.1611(e) apply only to contributions to the principal political committee of the state executive committee or a county executive committee of a political party. The exceptions do not apply to contributions to other political committees affiliated with political parties.

EAO No. 445 (2002) – Section 253.161(b) of the Election Code does not prohibit a federal judge from using political contributions accepted as a Texas judicial candidate or officeholder to make expenditures in connection with the federal office.

The personal use prohibition in section 253.035 of the Election Code does not prohibit a federal judge from using political contributions accepted as a Texas judicial candidate or officeholder to make expenditures in connection with the federal office.

EAO No. 446 (2002) – This opinion considers the meaning of the term "particular matter" for purposes of the revolving door provision in Government Code section 572.054(b) in a situation in which a state agency and a private entity entered into a contract for services that provided for a three-year term and gave the agency the option to extend the contract for a fourth year.  In our opinion, the entire four-year period is part of the same matter for purposes of the revolving door provision in Government Code section 572.054(b).


2003 Opinions

EAO No. 447 (2003) – If a stockholder or member of a corporation is a business entity not subject to the restrictions in Election Code section 253.094, the corporation's solicitable class under Election Code section 253.100(b) does not include the owners or employees of the business entity or the families of the owners or employees.

EAO No. 448 (2003) – The lawsuit described in this opinion is an election contest for purposes of the provision in section 253.034(c)(2) of the Election Code.

EAO No. 449 (2003) – In the circumstances described in this opinion, a judge would be accepting an officeholder contribution by accepting the association's offer of free membership.

EAO No. 450 (2003) – ** Opinion History** If a candidate's campaign worker makes a campaign expenditure out of personal funds and receives reimbursement from the candidate in the same reporting period, it is permissible to report a single expenditure by listing the name of the individual or entity paid by the campaign worker as the payee, showing the date of the expenditure as the date the campaign worker made the expenditure, and explaining in the "purpose" section that a campaign worker made the expenditure from personal funds and that the candidate subsequently reimbursed the campaign worker.

EAO No. 451 (2003) – Section 253.153(a)(2)(A) of the Election Code does not prohibit either of the parties to the lawsuit described in this opinion from accepting political contributions to defray expenses in connection with that lawsuit.

For purposes of the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act, officeholder contributions are attributable to the next election for the officeholder's current office that occurs after the contribution is made, and officeholder expenditures are attributable to the next election for the officeholder's current office that occurs after the expenditure is made.


2004 Opinions

EAO No. 452 (2004) – The in-kind contributions to a judicial candidate that are described in this opinion would count toward the judicial candidate's expenditure limits under section 253.168 of the Election Code.

EAO No. 453 (2004) – A former state senator may use political contributions accepted as a Texas candidate or officeholder for entertainment purposes in connection with the position of United States Ambassador to a foreign country.

EAO No. 454 (2004) – There is nothing in the laws under the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission that specifically addresses the issues of whether and when a legislator may mention his legislative service.  Although it is conceivable that a legislator might refer to his legislative service in a context that raised questions about section 36.02, 36.07, or 36.08(f) of the Penal Code, a reference to legislative service, without more, would not constitute a violation of one of those provisions.

EAO No. 455 (2004) – The compensation described in this opinion is not contingent on the passage of legislation.

EAO No. 456 (2004) – >Section 255.003 of the Election Code does not prohibit a city from broadcasting a tape of a city council meeting at which the city council considers placing an issue before the voters if the broadcast is in keeping with the city's regular practice of broadcasting meetings.

EAO No. 457 (2004) – A shirt that bears a candidate's political logo is not required to include a political advertising disclosure statement.

EAO No. 458 (2004) – A former state senator who is now a United States Ambassador may use political contributions accepted as a Texas candidate or officeholder to purchase furnishings for use in his official residence and to host an evening of holiday entertainment for embassy staff members and their families.

EAO No. 459 (2004) – A home-rule city may adopt an ordinance that requires city candidates and officeholders to transmit reports electronically rather than on paper as long as the ordinance requires the filing authority to make available, upon request, a paper copy of the report that conforms to the same format and paper size as the form prescribed by the commission.


2005 Opinions

EAO No. 460 (2005) – Expenditures for tickets are not “reimbursable with public funds” in a situation in which the payor chooses to make the expenditures rather than to use a free pass issued by a government body.

EAO No. 461 (2005) – There is nothing in the laws subject to interpretation by the Ethics Commission that prohibits a legislator from being employed by a firm simply because other members of the firm represent clients before state agencies.

EAO No. 462 (2005) – A former elected statewide officeholder may use unexpended political contributions to make expenditures in connection with his current non-elected position at a state agency.

EAO No. 463 (2005) – In the specific circumstances described in the request letter, there would not be a contingent fee for purposes of section 305.022 of the Government Code. This conclusion is specifically limited to the stipulated facts set out herein. Each case involving these issues must be determined on its own facts.

EAO No. 464 (2005) – A radio segment supporting or opposing legislation that is part of a communication that is broadcast in return for consideration must include a legislative advertising disclosure statement. Articles supporting or opposing legislation that appear on a website or that are made by e-mail are not required to include a legislative advertising disclosure statement.

EAO No. 465 (2005) – A non-judicial officeholder who becomes a judicial candidate is required to file two campaign finance reports, one reporting non-judicial activity and the other reporting judicial activity. Alternatively, a non-judicial officeholder who becomes a judicial candidate may select to file one report if: (1) in the description of an expenditure states whether an expenditure is for non-judicial activity, and (2) the total contributions maintained at the end of the reporting period states the amount attributed to non-judicial contributions and the amount attributed to judicial contributions.

EAO No. 466 (2005) – The Ethics Commission will recommend that the legislature clarify section 572.0252 of the Government Code because this statute is so vague as to be unenforceable.

Part I (1992 to 1994) | Part II (1995 to 1999)| Part IV (2006 to 2010)| Part V (2011 to present)

Last Revision: February 19, 2014