TEXAS ETHICS COMMISSION RULES
Chapter 8. ADVISORY OPINIONS
The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise: AOR number--An advisory opinion request file number assigned by the executive director to a pending advisory opinion in accordance with this chapter.
(1) Government Code, Chapter 302 (concerning Speaker of the House of Representatives);
(2) Government Code, Chapter 303 (concerning Governor for a Day and Speaker's Reunion Day Ceremonies);
(3) Government Code, Chapter 305 (concerning Registration of Lobbyists);
(4) Government Code, Chapter 572 (concerning Personal Financial Disclosure, Standards of Conduct, and Conflict of Interest);
(5) Government Code, Chapter 2004 (concerning Representation Before State Agencies);
(6) Local Government Code, Chapter 159, Subchapter C, in connection with a county judicial officer, as defined by Section 159.051, Local Government Code, who elects to file a financial statement with the commission;
(7) Election Code, Title 15 (concerning Regulating Political Funds and Campaigns);
(8) Penal Code, Chapter 36 (concerning Bribery and Corrupt Influence); and
(9) Penal Code, Chapter 39 (concerning Abuse of Office).
(10) Government Code, Section 2152.064 (concerning Conflict of Interest in Certain Transactions); and
(11) Government Code, Section 2155.003 (concerning Conflict of Interest).
(c) For purposes of this section, the term litigation includes a sworn complaint proceeding before the commission only if the Texas Administrative Procedure Act (Government Code Subchapters C-H, Chapter 2001), applies to the proceeding.
(d) An advisory opinion cannot resolve a disputed question of fact.
A person who is subject to one of the laws described in § 8.3(a) of this title (relating to Subject of Advisory Opinions) may request an opinion that advises how the law applies to that person in a specific real or hypothetical factual situation.
(a) A request for an advisory opinion shall describe a specified factual situation. The facts specified may be real or hypothetical. The request must provide sufficient detail to permit the commission to provide a response to the request, including the name of the person making the request and, if applicable, the name of the person on whose behalf the request is made.
(b) A request for an advisory opinion shall be in writing. A written request may be mailed, hand-delivered, or faxed to the commission at the agency office.
When a majority of the commission determines that an opinion would be in the public interest or in the interest of any person or persons within the jurisdiction of the commission, the commission may on its own motion issue an advisory opinion.
(a) Upon receipt of a request for an advisory opinion, the executive director will determine whether the request is one the commission will answer under § 8.3 of this title (relating to Subject of an Advisory Opinion).
(b) If the commission will answer the request, the executive director will assign an AOR number to the request. The executive director shall notify the person making the request of the AOR number and of the proposed wording of the question to be answered by the commission.
(c) If the request is one the commission cannot answer, the executive director shall notify the person making the request of the reason the request will not be answered.
(a) The commission shall issue an advisory opinion not later than the 60th day after the date the commission receives the written request.
(b) For purposes of calculating the time period under subsection (a) of this section, an advisory opinion request is deemed to have been received on the date the executive director determines the request complies with §§ 8.3, 8.5, and 8.7 of this title (relating to Subject of an Advisory Opinion; Persons Eligible To Receive an Advisory Opinion; and Request for an Advisory Opinion) and assigns the request an AOR number.
(c) The authority granted by the Act, § 1.29(b), is delegated to the staff of the commission.
(a) Each request assigned an AOR number under this chapter shall be published in summary form in the Texas Register.
(b) Any interested person may submit written comments concerning an advisory opinion request. Comments submitted should reference the AOR number.
If the executive director determines a request can be answered by reference to the plain language of a statute or a commission rule, or if the question has already been answered by the commission, then in either case the executive director may provide a written response to the person making the request that cites the language of the statute or rule or the prior determination, as applicable.
(a) The name of a person who requests an advisory opinion is confidential.
(b) The original request for an advisory opinion shall be placed in a confidential file. No original request or copy of an original request may be removed from the agency office.
(c) Confidentiality under subsection (a) of this section may be waived only if the person making the request for an advisory opinion provides a verified, written waiver of confidentiality to the executive director.
(d) If a request for a copy of an advisory opinion request is received, the executive director shall prepare a redacted version of the advisory opinion request by deleting any information that is likely to identify the person making the request. The redacted version of the request shall be provided to the person who requested a copy of the advisory opinion request.
The executive director shall number and categorize each advisory opinion issued and shall annually compile a summary of advisory opinions in a single reference document. The executive director may publish and provide copies of advisory opinions in other formats as may be in the public interest.