Cumulative Digest of Ethics Advisory Opinions

2011 | 2012| 2013| 2014


2011 Opinions

EAO No. 496 (2011) – Section 572.054(b) of the Government Code does not prohibit a former employee of the Texas Department of Transportation from performing services related to road projects as described in this opinion.

EAO No. 497 (2011) – A general-purpose political committee may accept contributions from corporations to defray expenses incurred in defending against the defamation lawsuits described in this request filed against the committee and its campaign treasurer.  Such contributions must be disclosed on the committee's campaign finance reports.  This conclusion is specifically limited to the stipulated facts set out herein.

EAO No. 498 (2011) – The use of political contributions by a former candidate for and former holder of a judicial office to pay legal expenses he incurred in connection with a defamation lawsuit he brought in his status as a candidate would not constitute a conversion of contributions to personal use under section 253.035 of the Election Code.

EAO No. 499 (2011) – If a person who is a former candidate for and former holder of a judicial office uses political contributions to pay a portion of the legal expenses for a defamation lawsuit described in this opinion, the amount of proceeds subject to the prohibition on personal use is proportional to the amount of legal expenses paid with political contributions.  With respect to any proceeds from the lawsuit, the amount that is proportional to the amount of legal expenses that are paid with political contributions must be paid into the person’s political fund.

EAO No. 500 (2011) – Section 253.1611(d) of the Election Code does not prohibit an officeholder, during a calendar year in which the office held does not appear on the ballot, from using political contributions to make over $250 in political contributions to multiple political committees, provided that the total amount of the contributions to any single political committee does not exceed $250.

EAO No. 501 (2011) – For purposes of section 255.003 of the Election Code, the attached brochure is not political advertising and, therefore, public funds may be used to distribute the brochure unless an officer or employee of the county authorizing such use of public funds knows that the brochure contains false information.

EAO No. 502 (2011) – An officeholder may use political contributions to reimburse an individual for expenses incurred due to errors made by an officeholder’s office.


2012 Opinions

EAO No. 503 (2012) – The single fact that a corporation shares a vendor with a candidate would not constitute a campaign contribution by the corporation to the candidate. If a corporation uses its general treasury funds to make a campaign expenditure to a vendor for services to benefit a candidate, and if the vendor is concurrently providing campaign services to both the corporation and the candidate or if the vendor has previously provided campaign services to the candidate, the expenditure may constitute a prohibited contribution to the candidate. Whether the expenditure constitutes a prohibited contribution depends on whether the expenditure is made with the prior consent or approval of the candidate. An expenditure that is not made with the prior consent and approval of the candidate is not a campaign contribution to the candidate.

EAO No. 504 (2012) – For purposes of section 255.003 of the Election Code, the attached fact sheet is not political advertising and, therefore, public funds may be used to distribute the fact sheet unless an officer or employee of the city authorizing such use of public funds knows that the fact sheet contains false information.

EAO No. 505 (2012) – Section 571.140 of the Government Code does not prohibit a complainant or respondent from publicly disclosing or discussing a commission order that dismisses a complaint filed by the complainant. If a third party receives a copy of such a dismissal order from a complainant or respondent, the confidentiality provision does not prohibit the third party from possessing or discussing the order with other third parties.

EAO No. 506 (2012) – The refrigerator magnet at issue constitutes “political advertising” for purposes of section 255.003 of the Election Code.

EAO No. 507 (2012) – A former TxDOT employee may perform services on behalf of a private employer regarding a general engineering consultant contract to oversee a design-build contract if the services do not include a review or analysis of any highway design and construction provisions that are essential components of the design-build contract in which he was involved.


2013 Opinions

EAO No. 508 (2013) – The laws under the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction would not prohibit a legislator from solely receiving compensation from the organization under the stated facts, provided that the compensation reflects the actual value of the legislator’s services and not because of his status as a public servant; the services are provided in a capacity other than as a public servant and as long as the legislator’s official position is not a reason for his employment by the organization; the compensation is not received in exchange for an official act as a public servant; and the compensation is neither a prohibited political contribution nor a gift, loan, or other prohibited expenditure by a registered lobbyist.
A legislator should understand that the solicitation of contributions to an organization for which the legislator serves as executive director and from which the legislator receives compensation for services could be viewed as improper under certain circumstances. Accordingly, a legislator should use extreme caution when soliciting such contributions.

EAO No. 509 (2013) – A parent for-profit corporation that assists a general-purpose committee under section 253.100(a) may solicit political contributions to the committee from the employees of a subsidiary for-profit corporation that it wholly owns and operates.

EAO No. 510 (2013) – A general-purpose committee may accept political contributions by text message if the committee’s campaign treasurer is able to obtain the contributor information necessary to comply with the reporting requirements of Title 15 of the Election Code. A general-purpose committee would not be prohibited from accepting certain factored payments described in this opinion from a connection aggregator if the terms of the factoring agreement between the aggregator and the political committee reflect the usual and normal practice of the industry and are typical of the terms of agreements offered by the aggregator to other political and non-political customers.

EAO No. 511 (2013) – The Judicial Campaign Fairness Act would not prohibit a candidate for judicial office from merely accepting a person’s signature on a petition.

EAO No. 512 (2013) – A person who is entitled to serve as justice of the peace of a particular precinct in accordance with article 5, section 18(c) of the Texas Constitution "holds" that office for purposes of section 255.006 of the Election Code and may indicate in political advertising that he holds that office for the duration of his term.

EAO No. 513 (2013) – A principal campaign committee formed under federal law to support a candidate for federal congressional office located in Texas that makes political contributions to state or local candidates in Texas is not required to file a campaign treasurer appointment or campaign finance reports under title 15 of the Election Code. Additionally, the committee is not required to file with the Texas Ethics Commission a copy of each document required to be filed under federal law that is related to the candidacy of the federal candidate for which the committee is formed.

EAO No. 514 (2013) – A candidate who accepts a political contribution by credit card must report as a political contribution the full amount that the donor intends to contribute. If, based on a prior agreement with the credit card processing company, the candidate incurs a processing fee that is deducted from the contribution, the candidate must report the processing fee as a political expenditure.


2014 Opinions

EAO No. 515 (2014) – A registrant must disclose in a registration the full name and address of a candidate or officeholder who uses political contributions to compensate or reimburse the registrant for services rendered by the registrant. A registrant must also disclose the full name and address of a candidate or officeholder who uses political contributions to compensate or reimburse an entity that employs or hires the registrant to render services for the candidate or officeholder. A registrant is not required to disclose compensation or reimbursement received by an entity for services rendered by someone other than the registrant or a person acting as an agent of the registrant.

EAO No. 516 (2014) – A city may not use its resources to create or maintain political advertising bearing the name of a political committee pursuant to the “adopt-a-park” program described in this opinion.

EAO No. 517 (2014) – A diagnostic blood test and analysis of the results provided to a member of the legislative or executive branch with the intent to influence legislation or administrative action constitutes a gift for purposes of the lobby law. Expenditures made by a registrant, or by an entity whose expenditures are properly reported by an individual registrant, incurred in administering the test are disclosed as gifts on a lobby activities report.

Part I (1992 to 1994) | Part II (1995 to 1999) | Part III (2000 to 2005) | Part IV (2006 to 2010)

Last Revision: May 30, 2014

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