Do’s and don’t’s about Ohio’s ethics laws: Avoid freebies

Ohio’s Ethics Law, adopted in 1974, covers 590,000 employees, officials, officeholders and public contractors statewide. Here are some very basic Do’s and Don’t’s:


  • Ask the Ohio Ethics Commission for advice anytime you have a question. (614-466-7090).
  • Seek out training on the law via online courses offered by the commission.
  • File your annual financial disclosure statements on time, completely and honestly.
  • Know the law: Violations of the state ethics laws and related statutes are mostly first-degree misdemeanors with a maximum fine of $1,000 and six-months in jail. Two of the public contract provisions are fourth-degree felonies, which carry punishment of up to a $5,000 fine and 18 months in prison.


  • Take free travel, gifts, substantial meals, jobs or any other thing of value offered to you because of your public position.
  • Blab confidential information you obtained while on the job.
  • Use your position to secure a benefit for yourself, a family member or a business associate.
  • Represent a paying client before another state agency or board if you're a state employee or official.
  • Hire family members or use your position to secure jobs for relatives. This includes spouse, parent, grandparent, children, grandchildren, siblings, step-child, step-parent. It also includes any relatives related to you by blood or by marriage if they live in your household.

Source: Ohio Ethics Law Overview, Ohio Ethics Commission

About the Author