Overview of Ohio's Ethics Laws

In the video above, Susan Willeke from the Ohio Ethics Commission discusses the state's ethics laws before an audience of trustees, deans, vice presidents, directors and other University leaders in October 2023.

As you likely know, Ohio’s Ethics Law creates standards for public employees, including provisions that restrict conflicts of interest and unethical conduct. You are required to comply with applicable provisions of Ohio’s Ethics Laws as well as University rules regarding conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment. Please note that provisions of Ohio’s Ethics Law include criminal prohibitions. Among more common restrictions, the law provides that each public official and employee is prohibited from:

  • Authorizing or using his/her position to secure the authorization of a contract for himself/herself, a family member, or a business associate;
  • Authorizing or using his/her position to secure the authorization of the investment of public funds in any kind of security to benefit himself/herself, a family member, or a business associate;
  • Receiving any benefit from a contract entered into by his/her public entity;
  • Hiring or securing any contract benefits for his/her spouse, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, or siblings, or any other relatives living with him/her;
  • Soliciting or accepting substantial and improper things of value, including gifts or travel, meals, and lodging;
  • Participating in matters where something of value will result for the public official or employee, his/her family, his/her business associates, or others with whom the public servant has a close tie that could impair his/her objectivity;
  • Disclosing or using information deemed confidential by law;
  • Representing parties, before any public agency, in a matter in which he/she was involved as a public servant, both during and for one year after leaving public service.

Please visit the Ohio Ethics Commission Ethics Law Training site for additional training sessions, webinars and e-learning opportunities.

University Rules

The University's Board of Trustees has passed rules that address conflicts of interests at the University.

  • University Rule 3359-11-17 Conflicts of Interest, Conflicts of Commitment, Scholarly Misconduct and Ethical Conduct - policies and procedures;
  • University Rule 3359-11-17.1 Conflict Management Requiring President's Review;
  • University Rule 3359-11-17.2 Spousal Hire Policy;
  • University Rule 3359-11-18 Conduct and Ethics Policy Employee Financial Interests in Companies Licensed under University Intellectual Property.

University Rule 3359-11-17 provides for an annual form to be completed by University employees regarding outside activities and conflicts. The rule also addresses areas such as, inventions and patent rights, conflicts involving University contracts, prohibitions, conflict policies regarding research projects, nepotism, whistleblowing, investigation of conflicts, and policies and procedures governing scholarly misconduct. Please review the Rule for all of the areas that the Rule covers.