Advisory opinions are issued by the Ethics Commission pursuant to Section 19A-7 of the Ethics Law. Persons subject to the Ethics Law, to the Code of Ethics for the County Board of Appeals, or to certain provisions of the County Procurement Law may ask the Commission for an advisory opinion on the meaning or application of those provisions. A supervisor or department head also may request an advisory opinion about the application of any of those laws to the employment-related conduct of any public employee they supervise.
The Commission is required by law to keep the names of the requestor and the subject of an advisory opinion confidential prior to and after the issuance of an opinion, unless the subject of the opinion requests or permits disclosure. In some cases, protecting the identity of the subject is not possible, for example, when the situation described in the opinion is unique, or the media has reported the issues involved. Whenever possible, the Ethics Commission drafts its opinions so that deletions to protect identities are unnecessary. Otherwise, opinions may be published with identifying information redacted. If the Commission finds that the privacy interest of a public employee or other person clearly outweighs the public's need to be informed about Commission actions, the Commission may publish a list of opinions that have not been published with an explanation stating the reason why each was not published.