Oregon Government EthicsAbout Oregon Government Ethics Law
- Applies to all elected and appointed officials, employees and volunteers at all levels of state and local government in all three branches
- Prohibits use of public office for financial gain
- Requires public disclosure of financial conflicts of interest
- Requires designated elected and appointed officials to file an annual disclosure of sources of economic interest
- Limits gifts that an official may receive per calendar year
- Found in Oregon Revised Statutes, Chapter 244
- Authorizes specific, limited reasons for which a public body may meet in a closed session
- Found in Oregon Revised Statutes 192.660 and 192.685
The Oregon Government Ethics Commission (OGEC), established by vote of the people in 1974, is a seven-member citizen commission charged with enforcing government ethic laws. Oregon government ethic laws prohibit public officials from using office for financial gain, and require public disclosure of economic conflict of interest. The OGEC also enforces state laws which require lobbyists and the entities they represent to register and periodically report their expenditures. The third area of OGEC jurisdiction is the executive session provisions of public meetings law.
During the Watergate scandal of the early seventies, Americans were confronted with deceit and misuse of power by elected officials. Citizens across the nation began calling for accountability from their governments. In response, Oregon was one of the first states to create laws designed to open government to greater public scrutiny.
In 1974, more than 70 percent of the voters approved a statewide ballot measure to create the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. The ballot measure also established a set of laws (ORS Chapter 244) requiring financial disclosure by certain officials and creating a process to deal with the inevitable question of conflict of interest. The drafters of the original laws recognized that "conflict of interest" is, indeed, inevitable in any government that relies on citizen lawmakers.
The OGEC is administered by an executive director selected by the commissioners. The commission also employs seven full-time staff member who are appointed by the executive director, including investigators, trainers, executive support, and administrative staff.
The OGEC members and staff consider that they are doing their job most successfully if they can help public officials avoid conduct that violates the relevant statutes. They encourage people to inquire into any point of the statutes prior to taking any action that may violate Oregon Government Ethic law, Lobbying Regulation law or the Executive Session provisions of Public Meetings law.
OGEC staffers are available for informal questions and discussions about statutes, administrative rules and the commission's process. Public officials are encouraged to contact OGEC staff at any time.
Oregon Government Ethics Commission
3218 Pringle Rd. SE, Suite 220
Salem, OR 97302-1544
Real people answer the phone.
OGEC does not have an automated phone tree.