Summary of Opinions

These opinion briefs are summaries of advisory opinions and are not to be read as a substitute for the law or the full advisory opinion text For a complete text of any advisory opinion, click the hyperlink at the beginning of each summary or contact the Legislative Ethics Commission.

1993

OLEC 93-1 The Code of Legislative Ethics does not prohibit the employer of a legislative agent from giving anything of value to the Kentucky Federation of Women's Clubs, although a legislator's spouse is an officer of the organization.

OLEC 93-2 An association that employs a legislative agent may not invite individual legislators to a series of events which provide food and golf, even if all members of the General Assembly would be invited over a two-year period.

OLEC 93-3 Cities are not subject to the Code requirements related to lobbying unless they engage a person whose primary responsibility during a session is to lobby.

OLEC 93-4 The new Code of Legislative Ethics prohibits legislators from attempting to influence a state agency in direct contravention of the public interest at large.

OLEC 93-5 If an Association invites only members of a recognized caucus to a dinner meeting, the Association does not have to report the amount spent on each legislator. The total spent on the function is reportable on the statement of expenditures filed by each legislative agent and employer.

OLEC 93-6 If a trade association has not employed or retained a member of the association for compensation to lobby, then that person would not be the trade association's legislative agent.

OLEC 93-7 A member of the General Assembly is prohibited under provisions of the Ethics Code from representing for compensation, a client whose case would involve money damages against Kentucky state institutions of higher education. Cases in this class begun prior to the effective date of Senate Bill 7, February 18, 1993, may be completed. In cases initiated subsequent to February 18, 1993, a lawyer/legislator should withdraw in these legal proceedings.

OLEC 93-8 If a legislator has a meal at the home of a close friend who is a legislative agent, the legislator could pay the legislative agent a reasonable amount for the meal and no reporting by the legislative agent would be required. Otherwise, KRS 6.821(2) requires the legislative agent to report the expenditure on the appropriate statement of expenditures. These expenditures shall be reported by the legislative agent on the statement of expenditures, filed periodically with the updated registration statement, calculated on the basis of a calendar year, January 1 through December 31. The legislative agent is only required to report expenditures on behalf of a member of the General Assembly or his immediate family. Expenditures on behalf of a date would not be reported.

KRS 6.744(5) prohibits representing a client before a state agency in matters related to licensing or permitting when the legislator/attorney is compensated.

OLEC 93-9 Members of the General Assembly may pursue employment in the private sector and be compensated for that employment so long as it is unrelated to their position as a legislator. The fact that a potential employer is registered with the Commission and retains a legislative agent would not be an issue so long as the employment is related strictly to service that is unrelated to the position of legislator.

OLEC 93-10 Under the provisions of the Ethics Code, a legislator and spouse may accept tickets to an event and attend a reception associated with an event that is sponsored by or in conjunction with a civic, charitable, governmental organization, or to which all members of the General Assembly are invited. If sponsors of the event employ a legislative agent, the employer is subject to the reporting requirements of KRS 6.821.

OLEC 93-11 A lawyer/legislator may represent a client seeking self-insurer status with the Kentucky Workers' Compensation Board in that such activity involves a ministerial function and is therefore permitted under KRS 6.744.

OLEC 93-12 A legislator may accept complimentary registration at an educational seminar sponsored by an employer who engages a legislative agent so long as all members of the Kentucky Senate or the Kentucky House of Representatives, or both, are invited. The employer is subject to the reporting requirements of KRS 6.821.

OLEC 93-13 A legislator may not serve on a Board of Directors where the organization exists primarily to advance legislative strategies. A legislator would be free to support the organization's goals and policies when the legislator is so inclined in the independent exercise of judgment.

OLEC 93-14 A legislator may support intervener status for a constituent in a case pending before the Kentucky Public Service Commission in that intervener status is granted as a matter of right to petitioners with an interest in the proceeding . Therefore the legislator is not engaged in an effort to influence a state agency.

OLEC 93-15 The Code of Ethics would allow a lawyer in a firm with a partner who is a member of the General Assembly to serve as bond counsel for a client engaged in underwriting tax free bonds for school districts, cities, counties, and the State of Kentucky. The lawyer/legislator could also provide legal assistance in this area for the client so long as the work did not conflict with the provisions of KRS 6.744 limiting certain areas of practice before state agencies for lawyer/legislators.

OLEC 93-16 An individual legislator may be invited and attend meetings, receptions and other events sponsored by legislative agents and/or employers so long as items associated with the event are limited to "food and beverages consumed on the premises" or certain promotional or educational items. Legislative agents and employers are required to report such expenditures for each legislator and the legislator's family.

OLEC 93-17 Members of the General Assembly may participate in a wide range of charitable events, including the solicitation of contributions on behalf of charitable, civic, or education entities so long as the solicitations are broad-based and not directed solely or primarily at legislative agents.

The acceptance of a complimentary membership in a state university recreation facility offered to a legislator and family would constitute a gift and is prohibited by KRS 6.751(1). The acceptance of annual airport parking passes by caucus members would be in violation of KRS 6.751(1) of the Code.

OLEC 93-18 (This opinion superseded by OLEC 13-01 issued July 9, 2013) Individual members of the General Assembly may be invited to a banquet sponsored by a state association that retains legislative agents. Details of internal funding of the food and beverages consumed on the premises at the banquet by the legislator invitee would not change the character of the event. The association would be required to report these expenditures for individual legislators and spouses as appropriate. Expenditures by local cooperatives for meal and beverage expenses associated with the banquet should be reported to the state association so that the appropriate reports required by the Code can be completed.

OLEC 93-19 A member of the General Assembly may recommend a constituent or non-constituent to a state agency for employment so long as that person is not a family member or business associate. Such an activity is an information process and not an attempt to influence the agency to act contrary to the public interest.

A lawyer/legislator may not represent the Kentucky Department for Social Insurance for compensation. It is expressly prohibited by KRS 6.744(6).

OLEC 93-20 A legislative agent may accept a free ticket to a campaign fund raising event for a member of the General Assembly so long as it is an authentic gift and not an artificial transaction designed to avoid the prohibition of the Code of Ethics on campaign contributions by a legislative agent to a legislator, a candidate, or his campaign committee.

OLEC 93-21 A member of the General Assembly may attend a dinner of a professional society. If the Society employs a legislative agent, there would be reporting requirements on the part of the Society.

A plaque presented as part of a speaking engagement would not be considered an honorarium. The Code provides that "a certificate, plaque, or a commemorative token of less than one hundred fifty dollars ($150) value" is not considered "anything of value" and may be accepted by a member of the General Assembly.

Members of the General Assembly as a part of their constituent services may present information on constituent concerns to appropriate state agencies. Such contacts are informational in nature and do not constitute an attempt to influence a state agency in direct contravention of public interest at large.

The Code of Ethics does not restrict a member of the General Assembly in making presentations to groups on any subject.

A legislator may write a letter on his official stationery to an agency of state government supporting a request by a constituent for a grant or in support of the appeal of a grant application. Such contacts are informational in nature and do not constitute an attempt to influence a state agency in direct contravention of the public interest at large.

OLEC 93-22 A member of the General Assembly engaged in business activity outside the area of the legislative process may enter a competitive bid process to supply building materials for a building owned and occupied by an organization that employs a legislative agent. The names of any clients who are legislative agents or employers must be reported in a legislator's financial disclosure form. A legislative agent and employer are required to report any financial transaction with or for the benefit of any member of the General Assembly.

OLEC 93-23 A properly licensed lawyer/legislator may represent a client in an action against the Division of Unemployment Compensation Insurance proceeding where a client disagrees with the assessed rate of contribution.

OLEC 93-24 A properly licensed legislator may represent criminal defendants, for compensation, in a court in any proceeding not otherwise prohibited by the Code or the Rules of Professional Conduct.

A lawyer/legislator may represent a client before a state agency in negotiations related to a condemnation proceedings. In condemnation actions, if the negotiations are unsuccessful, the Department of Highways must file a petition in the circuit court of the county where the property lies and a decision is then made based on the evidence presented. Because the petition is filed by the agency rather than by the property owner, and because the owner is trying to establish the fair market value rather than seeking money damages, this would not be a prohibited action against the Commonwealth for money damages.

KRS 6.744(5) prohibits representing a client before a state agency in matters relating to licensing or permitting when the lawyer/legislator is compensated.

KRS 6.744(8) provides that essentially there are no restrictions on activities of law partners of legislators, other than the requirement that legislators disclose on the financial disclosure report activities of partners in areas where the legislator cannot practice.

A legislator would not be prohibited from serving on the board of a private community college. The college is presented as being strictly private, and not created pursuant to any specific statutory authority delegating Executive Branch powers which might give rise to constitutional issues. The corporation has no apparent legislative agenda, and employs no agents. A legislator may serve on this board and accept refreshments served at meetings. Neither the legislator nor the corporation has any reporting requirement as a result of these functions.

OLEC 93-25 Members of the General Assembly as a part of their constituent services may present information on constituent concerns to appropriate state agencies. Such contacts are informational in nature and do not constitute an attempt to influence a state agency in direct contravention of the public interest at large.

OLEC 93-26 The Code of Ethics prohibits a member of the General Assembly from accepting an honorarium in connection with an appearance, speech, or article related to his official duties. A legislator should not attempt to exercise any control over a proposed honorarium by directing it to another individual or organization.

OLEC 93-27 A member of the General Assembly may solicit contributions on behalf of charitable, civic, or educational entities provided the solicitations are broad-based and are not directed solely or primarily at legislative agents. Personal stationery should be used in these solicitations rather than official legislative stationery.

OLEC 93-28 A business/community organization that engages a legislative agent would be required to report the aggregate amounts spent on behalf of legislators at an event to which all members of the General Assembly are invited.

OLEC 93-29 The Ethics Code does not limit meetings between legislators and the public to discuss issues of mutual concern. KRS 6.611(2)(b)(2) of the Code provides that a legislator may accept food and beverages from a person other than a legislative agent or employer. The fact that members of the association may participate in other coalitions that employ a legislative agent would not change the status.

OLEC 93-30 A legislator may serve as a member of the Board of a local chamber of commerce so long as formal action is taken by the legislator to disassociate himself or herself from all activities related to influencing the General Assembly and directing a legislative agent. Service as Chairman of the Board would not be permitted under the Code as a legislator would not be able to effectively disassociate himself or herself from legislative activities in this key leadership role.

OLEC 93-31 KRS 6.787(2)(l) does not require a legislator/owner of a business entity offering for sale goods and related services to the public to list the names of customers of the business who happen to be legislative agents or employers on statements of financial interests filed by the legislator/owner.

OLEC 93-32 Members of an association who are unpaid volunteers and who are encouraged but not directed to engage in legislative activities on behalf of the association are not required to register with the Commission before participating in legislative activities on behalf of the association.

OLEC 93-33 Unless an individual member of the association has been engaged by an employer through a specific agreement to lobby for compensation and given direction on the lobbying activities to be accomplished and further pursues these legislative objectives through the association's lobbying campaign, a member of the association would not be required to register as a legislative agent.

OLEC 93-34 Members of the General Assembly may participate in local governmental activities, but are subject to the general standards of conduct set out in KRS 6.731. The Code of Ethics does not regulate contributions by legislators.

OLEC 93-35 A lawyer/legislator may not represent clients for compensation before the Interim Office of Health Planning and Certification.

OLEC 93-36 A legislator may accept season football passes to public school games because they are excluded from the definition of "anything of value" within the Legislative Ethics Code.

OLEC 93-37 A legislator may be a member of a trade association established to accomplish a variety of activities, only one of which includes legislative activity. The legislator should not participate in any trade association activity involving legislative lobbying.

A legislator may be a member of the Board of Directors of a local bank when the bank is a member of the Kentucky Bankers Association, which employs a legislative agent. The Board of Directors engages in a wide range of banking related activities, only one of which includes membership in the Kentucky Bankers Association. The legislator, acting in the capacity of a local bank Board Director would be prohibited from participating in local bank board actions which are intended to influence the General Assembly. The legislator should formalize his or her separation from these activities by filing a written memorandum with the Board of Directors of the local bank. A copy of the memorandum should be sent to the Legislative Ethics Commission.

Members of the General Assembly may pursue employment in the private sector and be compensated for that employment so long as it is unrelated to their position as a legislator. KRS 6.611(2)(b)(2) states "anything of value does not include compensation, food, beverages, entertainment, transportation, lodging, or other goods or services extended to a legislator by the legislator's private employer..."

OLEC 93-38 The Kentucky Retirement Systems is a de jure municipal corporation within the context of KRS 6.611(22)(b)(3), and any employees whose most important, or fundamental, responsibility during sessions of the General Assembly is to lobby must be registered as a legislative agent.

OLEC 93-39 A legislator may practice law as a partner in a firm that has one or more lawyers who are registered legislative agents. The legislator/partner must refrain from activity that advances legislative strategies of clients who have engaged lawyers of the partnership as legislative agents. The legislator/partner must not share, directly or indirectly, in any compensation the partnership receives as a result of a partner's activities as a legislative agent.

OLEC 93-40 A legislator conducting private business should be aware of the financial disclosure provisions of KRS 6.787, requiring disclosure of the legislator's sources of gross income and form of the income. The legislator whose private business is one of personal service has a client under the Code and would be required to disclose the names of clients who are legislative agents or employers. If a legislator accepts a luncheon in the client/business person capacity that expenditure would be reportable when the client is a legislative agents or employer. Whether a legislator is acting in a public or private capacity certain provisions of the Code are applicable.

OLEC 93-41 The Code prohibits a lawyer/legislator from representing for compensation the Commonwealth or any state agency. Therefore, a lawyer/legislator would be prohibited from providing legal counsel to the Commissioner of Insurance on any matter within the Commissioner's statutory responsibilities. A lawyer/legislator is prohibited from receiving compensation related to activities of a firm in areas the lawyer/legislator is not permitted to practice under the Code.

OLEC 93-42 Providing boxes at an entertainment facility for individual legislators and spouses by an "employer" or a "legislative agent" without charge would violate the Code of Ethics.

OLEC 93-43 Where hourly employees are provided information on legislation that may affect the company and encouraged but not directed to communicate with their individual representative such activity would not meet the standards of the Code for registration as a legislative agent. This would be the case whether the contact with legislators occurs during working hours or non-working hours so long as the activities are completely voluntary and not subject to any direction, supervision, or monitoring by management.

OLEC 93-44 The Code prohibits a legislative agent from exercising control over a campaign contribution from a PAC and directing it to a specific state legislator, candidate or committee. In addition, a legislative agent should not serve as an officer of a PAC that makes contributions to state legislators, candidates or committees and should not physically deliver PAC contributions to a legislator, candidate or committee

OLEC 93-45 Subject to the exceptions listed in KRS 6.744, a lawyer/legislator may represent a local school board in his private law practice.

OLEC 93-46 The Code of Ethics places no prohibitions on legislators working as volunteers in the charitable gaming activities of a church.

OLEC 93-47 Withdrawn

OLEC 93-48 Technical experts and executives from a company may assist a legislative agent in presenting the company's position to members of the legislature without registering a legislative agent with the Commission so long as their legislative activity is limited to appearing before public meetings of legislative committees, subcommittees or task forces, or public hearings, or meetings of public agencies. Within seven days of being retained specifically to lobby, or within seven days of the point when it is clear that at least a portion of one's employment responsibilities will be lobbying activity, registration is required.

OLEC 93-49 A legislator would be prohibited from accepting a ticket to a sporting event from a law firm where a partner is a legislative agent, unless the legislator pays the firm the value of the ticket.

OLEC 93-50 Expenditures for certain qualifying events may be reported in the aggregate, identifying the group invited rather than the individual legislators, and without counting the expenditure toward the $100 per calendar year limit which applies to expenditures for food and beverages consumed on the premises for individual legislators expended by employers or legislative agents.

Public servants acting in their fiduciary capacity as representatives of local governments are not legislative agents unless their primary responsibility during sessions of the General Assembly is to lobby.

OLEC 93-51 A family member of a legislator may accept a scholarship from a state university awarded on merit and without influence on the part of a member of the General Assembly and with out any intention by a state university official to confer a benefit on a legislator. Such a scholarship is an "educational item" and excluded from anything of value under the Code.

OLEC 93-52 Associations, and other entities, which make arrangements to compensate a legislative agent acting on their behalf are "employers" under the Kentucky Code of Legislative Ethics, and they must register with the Commission and provide the required updated reports detailing their expenditures. Their status does not change by passing the compensation through an intermediary organization.

OLEC 93-53 A legislator may serve as an ex-officio member of a non-Kentucky film commission. Membership on another state's film commission is not a position referred to in the Code of Ethics, as incompatible with service as a legislator. The legislator must disassociate himself or herself from any foreign state request for funding from the Kentucky Film Commission.

OLEC 93-54 A legislator would be prohibited from soliciting help from a legislative agent in obtaining a campaign contribution from a PAC.

OLEC 93-55 (This opinion superseded by OLEC 95-15 issued October 24, 1995 and by OLEC 98-2 issued January 7, 1998) A member of the General Assembly may properly solicit and accept campaign contributions. Legislative agents may not make a campaign contribution to a legislator, a candidate, or his campaign committee or serve as a campaign treasurer, or as a fund raiser. A legislator, a candidate, or his campaign committee is prohibited from accepting a campaign contribution from a legislative agent or soliciting help from a legislative agent in obtaining a campaign contribution. Public funds, time, personnel, and official stationery or facsimile cannot be used in fundraising.

Campaign contributions solicited or accepted during a regular session or a special session of the legislature or in close proximity to these sessions from an individual or entity with a clear and direct interest in legislation should be subjected to a high level of scrutiny both by an individual legislator and by the Commission so as to avoid any appearance that such contributions were an attempt to influence a legislator's vote, opinion, judgment, or exercise of discretion.

OLEC 93-56 A member of a legislator's family may apply for a position at a state university so long as the legislator does not advocate or cause the employment of the family member. KRS 6.754(2).

OLEC 93-57 Members of the General Assembly may attend workshops related to their employment in the private sector without any reporting requirements under the Code of Ethics. Approval by the Legislative Research Commission for out of state travel connected with such a workshop would not be required.

OLEC 93-58 A number of sections of the Ethics Code apply to all staff of the legislative branch of state government. A member of the General Assembly is prohibited from requesting a legislative staff person to perform any activity during the workday not associated with the performance of legislative duties. In addition, a member of the General Assembly is prohibited from using a legislative staff person in partisan political campaign activity during the workday. Lobbying expenses and expenditures by "employers" and "legislative agents" related to legislative staff must be reported in updated registration statements. Any activity which is prohibited under the Code of Ethics on the part of a member of the General Assembly or an "employer or legislative agent" would be unlawful if accomplished through staff.

OLEC 93-59 A public employee who is registered as a legislative agent for a state association would not be required to also register on behalf of his employer unless the employee had been engaged for compensation to lobby. ( OLEC 93-32). The reimbursement of expenses for members of a state association engaged in lobbying activities does not constitute compensation under the Code of Ethics and require registration. (KRS 6.611(21)(b)). Using annual leave time to engage in legislative activity on behalf of a state association would not require registration as a legislative agent of the association. ( OLEC 93-32).

OLEC 93-60 Members of the General Assembly may serve on area development districts, the Western Kentucky Corporation and tourist and convention commissions without violating KRS 6.764 of the Code of Ethics. Constitutional issues raised by service on these entities are outside the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission and are addressed in OAG 93-70. The General Assembly will review issues in this area during the 1994 Session.

OLEC 93-61 KRS 6.761 of the Code of Ethics contains a clear and definitive standard for the determination of conflict of interest on the part of legislators. Legislators are prohibited from discussing, or making a decision in an official capacity on any matter in which the legislator, the legislator's family, or the legislator's business associates will derive a direct monetary gain or suffer a direct monetary loss and on a matter which relates specifically to a business in which the legislator owns or controls an interest of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or an interest of more than five percent (5%).

However, the subsequent legislative language in effect negates the standard for determining conflict of interest by excluding legislative issues that provide a benefit or detriment to a legislator "which accrues generally to other members of [a] business, profession, occupation, or other group." Only a legislator with a personal or private interest in a bill would be required to disclose his interest and refrain from voting. Even this extremely limited standard is qualified by a direction that the case be clear and particularly personal. In effect, this section of the Code would limit conflicts of interest to what amounts to private legislation passed solely for the benefit of an individual legislator.

OLEC 93-62 The Kentucky Code of Legislative Ethics places no restrictions on the areas of law in which a properly licensed partner of a member of the General Assembly may practice. In OLEC 93-41 the Commission held that while it is permissible for another member of a law firm to provide legal counsel in areas where the lawyer/legislator is not permitted to practice, a lawyer/legislator is prohibited from receiving directly or indirectly any compensation related to any such activities.

OLEC 93-63 A law firm with a legislator/lawyer partner may, on the same fee basis charged to other box holders, purchase a box at an entertainment facility that is an employer of a legislative agent. The Code of Ethics applies to the activity of individual legislators and does not extend to the activity of other members of a firm.

A legislator may continue to purchase on the same fee basis charged to other box holders a box at an entertainment facility that employs a legislative agent so long as such opportunity was provided to the legislator's family prior to his service in the General Assembly. The opportunity to purchase the box arose as a result of his family's relationship to the facility and not as a result of his official position as a member of the General Assembly.

OLEC 93-64 A legislative agent may provide a wide range of information to a PAC engaged in the process of developing contribution strategies related to legislative candidates. Pursuant to OLEC 93-44, a legislative agent is prohibited from exercising control over a campaign contribution or PAC and directing it to a specific state legislator, candidate or committee.

OLEC 93-65 A member of the Workers' Compensation Council who also is registered as a legislative agent or employer with the Ethics Commission is not required to report pursuant to KRS 6.821 as to any of his or her activities performed within the mandate of KRS 342.0012. The Ethics Commission is not authorized to regulate or require registration by a member of the Workers' Compensation Council by reason of his or her activities performed within the mandate of KRS 342.0012.

OLEC 93-66 (This opinion superseded by OLEC 98-5 issued November 10, 1998) A legislator may properly purchase tickets to an event sponsored by an entertainment facility that employs a legislative agent so long as all members of the General Assembly are invited to the event. A legislative agent of the facility may properly assist in disbursement of seats for the events so long as ticket allocations and seating arrangements are reasonably uniform for all members of the General Assembly. Expenditures related to legislator and spouse attendance at the events beyond the purchase price of the tickets are required to be reported in updated registration.

OLEC 93-67 (This opinion superseded by OLEC 95-14 issued September 26, 1995) A legislative agent may volunteer for a wide range of campaign activities on behalf of legislative candidates so long as they are not directed in this activity by an "employer" and do not engage in any fund-raising activity. A legislative agent may also place campaign material on their property, automobile, or person. Spouses or immediate family members of legislative agents are not prohibited by the Code from campaign work, including making a campaign contribution so long as a legislative agent is not seeking to accomplish through them a prohibited activity.

OLEC 93-68 A county or city government that is an employer of a legislative agent may provide office space and other support services to members of the General Assembly representing that jurisdiction so long as all legislators in the jurisdiction have equal access to the services. The service arrangement should be formally approved by the appropriate governing body in a jurisdiction and publicly announced. The cost of these services should be reported to the Commission and the legislative agent should not be associated with the establishment or delivery of these support services.

OLEC 93-69 Public servants employed by special districts are required to register as legislative agents if their primary responsibility during sessions of the General Assembly is to lobby. Attorneys retained by special districts are not public servants, and must register as legislative agents if they engage in lobbying activity.

OLEC 93-70 A teacher who is a member of a local teacher association would be required to register with the Commission as a legislative agent in a situation where the teacher enters into an agreement to lobby on behalf of the association, is directed in that activity and the association provides association leave time to the teacher for such activity and further reimburses the local school district certain costs related to the teacher's absence.


1994

OLEC 94-1 KRS 6.611(2)(b)(5) and (6) provides that "informational" or "promotional items" as well as "educational items" are excluded from the definition of "anything of value" under the Code of Ethics. A publication on tax issues relating to legislators would fall within these exclusions and could properly be distributed to all members of the General Assembly.

OLEC 94-2 Under the Code of Ethics, it would not be appropriate for a legislator to co-sponsor an event designed to advance the legislative agenda of an employer of a legislative agent. KRS 6.606 requires that a public official be independent and impartial. In addition, KRS 6.731 prohibits a legislator from using his official position to secure a privilege or advantage for others. Co-hosting of an event sponsored by an employer of a legislative agent would constitute an advantage for that particular employer over other employers with legislative agendas.

OLEC 94-3 (This opinion superseded by OLEC 98-2 issued January 7, 1998) A member of the General Assembly may solicit contributions from individuals or political action committees for a political organization under the Code of Ethics. In OLEC 93-54, the Commission expressed the view that "contributions solicited or accepted during a regular or special session of the legislature or in close proximity to these sessions from an individual or entity with a clear and direct interest in legislation should be subjected to a high level of scrutiny both by an individual legislator and by the Commission so as to avoid any appearance that such contributions were an attempt to influence a legislator's vote, opinion, judgment, or exercise of discretion."

"Close Proximity" to a session of the General Assembly commences prior to a session at that point of nearness which would lead such person reasonably to conclude that the contributions were solicited or received for improper purposes. "Close proximity" after a session ends at a point in time sufficiently far removed from the hue and cry as reasonably required to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

KRS 6.611(21) defines "legislation" as meaning "bills, resolutions, amendments, nominations, and any other matter pending before the General Assembly or any of its interim committees, or the executive approval or veto of any bill acted upon by the General Assembly. Therefore, a bill does not need to filed or prefiled to be "legislation."

An individual or entity need not be regulated by legislation in order to have a "clear and direct" interest in the legislation. However, the interest must be specific enough to carry the potential for some gain or loss from the legislation not to be shared by members of the public generally. Therefore, the general interest of an ordinary citizen in business issues, taxation levels, and the state's economy would not be considered "clear and direct."

Candidates for nomination or election to the General Assembly are governed by certain provisions of the Code of Legislative Ethics as are incumbents. Candidates for other offices are not covered except in the case of an incumbent legislator who is running for another office.

OLEC 94-4 (This opinion superseded by OLEC 94-36 issued August 23, 1994) "Lobby" is defined by KRS 6.611(26)(a). "Legislation" is defined by KRS 6.611(21). Based on these definitions, expenses and expenditures related to regulations which have not been filed with the regulations compiler are not required to be reported on the updated registration statement. However, once a proposed regulation has been filed with the regulations compiler for publication and review, it becomes a matter pending before a committee of the General Assembly, and expenses and expenditures incurred as a result of communication with members of the General Assembly, or with any of the other individuals listed in KRS 6.611(26)(a) are required to be reported on the updated registration statement.

OLEC 94-5 KRS 6.821 requires legislative agents and their employers to report expenses and expenditures directly related to lobbying activities during a reporting period. The activity which triggers the requirement to report an expense or expenditure is the communication of a legislative agenda to a member of the General Assembly, or to any of the other individuals listed KRS 6.611(26)(a). Once communication takes place, it is necessary to report all expenses and expenditures involved in planning, developing, coordinating, or implementing the agenda.

OLEC 94-6 A legislator may pursue employment in the private sector and be compensated for that employment so long as it is unrelated to their position as a legislator. KRS 6.611(2)(b)(2) states "anything of value does not include compensation, food, beverages, entertainment, transportation, lodging, or other goods or services extended to a legislator by the legislator's private employer..." A legislator may continue private sector employment as the executive director of a nonprofit organization that does not engage in legislative activities.

The Code of Ethics does not prohibit transactions between a nonprofit corporation that employs a legislator as executive director and state agencies. KRS 6.734 places certain restrictions on legislators and candidates with regard to state contracts, but does not restrict such activities on the part of private sector employers. Therefore, these activities would be outside the jurisdiction of the Commission absent a finding that the activity in question was somehow related to a legislative matter.

In OLEC 93-60 the Commission addressed general questions regarding the propriety of legislator service on various governmental boards. As stated in OLEC 93-60, the Commission has jurisdiction to address questions relating to Section 6.764, dealing with offices incompatible with being a legislator. A local private industry council is a quasi governmental entity created by local government to implement the federal Job Partnership Training Act. Because a local private industry council is not an entity of state government nor an entity which has statutory authority to levy taxes or set rates, as set forth in KRS 6.764, board membership is not an incompatible office. A legislator would not be prohibited from service as a board member of the local private industry council.

OLEC 94-7 A student intern who engages in legislative activity on behalf of a state-wide association without compensation, but is reimbursed for expenses is not required to register with the Commission.

Where a member organization's compensated employee performs lobbying activity on behalf of an association pursuant to an understanding between the member organization and a state-wide association, the entity that directs and controls the lobbying activity of the employee is required to register with the Commission as an employer of the legislative agent.

The fact that lobbying activities of a member organization may provide an incidental benefit to other member organizations of a state-wide association with similar interest would not be sufficient to require the listing of such other organizations as real parties in interest.

OLEC 94-8 In pursuing private sector employment activities a legislator should not be involved in hiring or directing the activities of a legislative agent. In addition, a legislator is precluded from participating in activities of his employer related to developing a legislative agenda to be communicated to members of the General Assembly and in activities that involve directing PAC funds of the employer to certain candidates for election to the General Assembly, including incumbent members.

It would appear that a legislator who is an Executive Officer and Executive Board member of an organization that is employer of a legislative agent and pursues a legislative agenda would be in violation of the Code of Ethics unless it could be shown that the legislator, in fact, had disassociated himself or herself from all activities of the employer regarding legislative agents, legislative agendas and direction of PAC funds.

OLEC 94-9 An open house and lunch sponsored by a state agency to display products for members of the General Assembly is not covered by the Code of Ethics. KRS 6.611(22)(b) provides that "a public servant acting in his fiduciary capacity as a representative of his agency..." is not a legislative agent.

OLEC 94-10 A state association registered with the Commission as an employer of a legislative agent may give members of the General Assembly seedlings in connection with Arbor Day. KRS 6.611(2)(b)(5) and (6) provides that "informational" or "promotional items" as well as "educational" items are excluded from the definition of "anything of value" under the Code of Ethics. The seedlings in question would fall within these exclusions and could properly be distributed to all members of the General Assembly.

OLEC 94-11 A state association in the media area that is registered with the Commission as an employer may continue a public affairs series of 60 seconds interviews with legislators. KRS 6.611(2)(b)(5) and (6) provides that "informational" and "educational items" are excluded from the definition of "anything of value" under the Code of Ethics. The taped interviews in question would fall within these exclusions and could properly be filmed and distributed to local cable operators. These programs will increase citizen awareness of legislative issues. However, all members of the General Assembly must be given an opportunity to participate in the program.

OLEC 94-12 A legislative agent who is a joint owner of real-estate with a member of the General Assembly, or with a secretary of a cabinet listed in KRS 12.250, must report the activity as a financial transaction on each updated registration statement for as long as the activity continues.

OLEC 94-13 Each legislative agent and employer must list the name, bill number, or a brief description of the legislative action for which the legislative agent is or will be engaged in lobbying on the initial registration statement. A listing of specific bills or resolutions lobbied during the reporting period is required on the updated registration statement. Listing all bills introduced in the General Assembly does not meet the reporting requirements of the Code. Bills or resolutions monitored, but not lobbied need not be reported.

OLEC 94-14 Lobbying includes direct communication concerning legislation with the Governor, the secretary of any cabinet listed in KRS 12.250, or any member of the staff of any of these officials. An individual who has been engaged by an employer to lobby and is in contact with these officials on issues related to legislation must register with the Commission. An individual appearing at public hearings or meetings of public agencies would not be required to register as a legislative agent with the Commission.

OLEC 94-15 In OLEC 93-32, the Commission advised that "members of an association who are unpaid volunteers and who are encouraged but not directed to engage in legislative activities on behalf of the association are not required to register with the Commission before participating in legislative activities on behalf of the association." The fact that an organization may benefit financially from the legislative activities of volunteer board members would not trigger a registration requirement.

Meetings between volunteer board members and legislators are not required to be reported under the Code of Ethics. Registration by a volunteer board member on behalf of his employer "would only be required in limited situations where an individual member of the association has been engaged by an employer through a specific agreement to lobby for compensation and given direction on the lobbying activities to be accomplished and further pursues these legislative objectives through the association's lobbying campaign."

Volunteer board members of an organization who serve without compensation are not, except in certain limited situations, required to register as legislative agents with the Commission and therefore are not subject to the prohibition against providing "anything of value" to a member of the General Assembly so long as they are acting on behalf of the organization.

If such expenditures for meals and trips are coordinated and directed by an employer or a legislative agent registered with the Commission, they are required to be reported by the employer or legislative agent and are further subject to the limitations and prohibitions in the Code.

A legislative agent or employer is prohibited from providing with certain exceptions anything of value to a legislator and this restriction applies to trips for an individual legislator. Under the Code of Ethics, an employer or legislative agent may not act through others to accomplish what is prohibited if done directly by an employer or "legislative agent."

OLEC 94-16 The Kentucky Code of Legislative Ethics does not prohibit a lawyer/legislator from receiving compensation for representing criminal defendants referred by a public defender when the public defender has a conflict and cannot represent the defendant.

OLEC 94-17 KRS 6.744(7) prohibiting a lawyer/legislator from maintaining actions for damages against the Commonwealth of Kentucky or state agencies does not apply to candidates for the legislature. A candidate for the General Assembly upon taking office would be subject to the same requirements applied to legislators serving at the same time the new Ethics law was adopted. Cases in progress prior to February 18, 1993, may be completed. Lawyer/legislators must remove themselves from all cases begun after the effective date of the act. The Commission will consider a case or negotiation to be in progress as of February 18, 1993, if a contract has been entered into, between the parties, prior to that date.

OLEC 94-18 A lawyer/legislator may hold a personal service contract with a county sheriff's office. KRS 6.737 prohibits legislators from holding certain contracts with "state agencies," but the definition of "state agency" in 6.611(29) would not apply to a county sheriff's office.

The lawyer/legislator is acting as an independent contractor in this situation and is not an employee of the sheriff's office. Therefore the prohibition contained in Section 165 of the Kentucky Constitution against a member of the General Assembly serving as the employee of a county does not apply.

OLEC 94-19 A state association registered with the Commission is prohibited from acting through or in concert with a related foundation to provide free eye health/vision screenings directed at legislators during a session of the General Assembly. Providing such services constitutes something of value under Section 6.611 of the Code and is therefore prohibited.

OLEC 94-20 A candidate for the General Assembly may lease real estate to a state university, because the prohibition in KRS 6.741 applies only to legislators.

OLEC 94-21 Withdrawn

OLEC 94-22 An employer registered with the Commission is not prohibited by the Code from making a charitable contribution to a foundation to support a community golf tournament open to the public that may involve members of the General Assembly who pay the regular fee to participate.

A legislator who participates in such an event may accept golf-related items provided to all participants by the sponsoring entity that are funded in part by contributions from employers registered with the Commission.

An employer registered with the Commission is prohibited from inviting a member of the General Assembly to participate in a charity golf tournament when such invitation includes the cost of the golf game, meals and other golf related items. Such items would constitute something of value under KRS 6.811.

OLEC 94-23 Legislators may use their titles on stationery and envelopes used to solicit contributions and votes as long as their official legislative stationery is not used and the great seal of the Commonwealth is not used.

OLEC 94-24 Withdrawn

OLEC 94-25 The Code of Ethics applies to the activity of an individual legislative agent and does not extend to the activity of other employees or members of a firm who are acting in a separate and private capacity. A legislative agent who is a member of a law firm may not act through the firm to accomplish results which would be unlawful under the Code if accomplished directly by the agent.

OLEC 94-26 As stated in OLEC 93-43, "Where hourly employees are provided information on legislation that may affect the company and are encouraged but not directed to communicate with their individual representatives, such activity would not meet the standards of the code for registration as a legislative agent. This would be the case whether the contact with legislators occurs during working hours or non-working hours so long as the activities are completely voluntary and not subject to any direction, supervision, or monitoring by management personnel." Salaried employees who have been requested and agree to engage in lobbying activity and are directed in that activity by company officials are thereby lobbying as one of their official responsibilities.

OLEC 94-27 An attorney under a personal service contract with an executive agency is not a public servant and if the attorney engages in lobbying activities on behalf of the executive agency, the attorney must register with the Commission.

OLEC 94-28 A lawyer is not required to register as a legislative agent if the lawyer provides professional services in drafting bills or resolutions, or in advising clients as to the effects of proposed legislation if the services are not otherwise connected with lobbying by the lawyer. However, a lawyer must register if compensated for traveling to Frankfort for private meetings with members of the General Assembly regarding the legislation.

OLEC 94-29 Employers and legislative agents required to register with the Commission must, without exception, file the necessary registration and updated registration statements. The Code does not provide exclusions for required information that may be considered confidential by an employer or "legislative agent." However, the reporting requirements do not require information related to business plans and potential relocations.

OLEC 94-30 (This opinion superseded by OLEC 94-36 issued August 23, 1994) Administrative regulations which have been filed with the regulations compiler are covered by the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Code.

OLEC 94-31 When a law firm which pays an attorney has no interest in proposed legislation on which an attorney is doing pro bono work for a civic organization, and does not direct the attorney in the legislative activity, neither the law firm nor the civic organization is considered an employer under the Code.

OLEC 94-32 A lawyer/legislator may not represent a defendant in a lawsuit when it is likely that a cross-claim against the Commonwealth for indemnification will be required.

OLEC 94-33 Legislators are not prohibited from holding contracts as instructor/facilitators with the Commonwealth Training Partnership because the contracts are available on similar terms to other members of a legislator's business, occupation, or profession.

OLEC 94-34 Under Section 6.787(2)(f) of the Code of Ethics, a legislator is required to report in the annual statement of financial disclosure the sources of gross income of a spouse but not other immediate family members. Income generated from a business or profession of the spouse is reported as being generated by that activity. Income not related to such business or profession should be reported by the name and address of the sources of the gross income.

OLEC 94-35 Acceptance of prepaid or reimbursed expenses for out-of-state travel associated with official duties as a legislator requires prior approval of the Legislative Research Commission. However, such travel expenses may not be paid or earmarked for an individual legislator, their spouse or child by an employer or legislative agent registered with the Commission.

An employer or legislative agent may provide unrestricted support to a 501(c)(3) educational organization for state legislators that as a part of its program reimburses legislators for travel and lodging expenses so long as there is not an agreement explicit or implicit that a portion of the funds will be allocated for travel expenses of members of the General Assembly, their spouse or child.

OLEC 94-36 Proposed administrative regulations become a matter pending before the General Assembly and subject to the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Code when such regulations are published in the Kentucky Administrative Register and the time for a public hearing at the agency has expired. (This opinion supersedes OLEC 94-4 and OLEC 94-30).

OLEC 94-37 Members of the General Assembly may accept reimbursement for itemized expenses related to attending meetings associated exclusively with their private sector employment and unrelated to their position as a legislator.

OLEC 94-38 A member of the General Assembly may accept a campaign contribution from a political party fundraising event. A legislator may also solicit contributions on behalf of a political organization. In addition, a legislator may work on a political party fundraising event so long as such activity does not involve the use of public funds, time or personnel for partisan political campaign activity pursuant to KRS 6.731(5).

OLEC 94-39 A lawyer/legislator may represent a client for compensation in an agency enforcement matter including administrative hearings, settlement negotiations, or judicial appeals. The fact that the outcome of such proceedings may impact a subsequent permit eligibility would not constitute a violation of Section 6.744(5)(e) of the Code.

A lawyer/legislator is prohibited by the Code from representing a client for compensation in a state agency enforcement action that is based on questions relating to permitting including a possible permit revision.

OLEC 94-40 The Code of Ethics applies to meetings attended by members of the General Assembly outside the Commonwealth in their official capacity and to activities of employers and legislative agents registered with the Commission at such events. Food and beverages and other items provided as part of the official programs at events sponsored by or in conjunction with a civic, charitable, governmental or community organization are excluded from the definition of "anything of value." However, separate receptions, dinners and other events sponsored by employers and legislative agents registered with the Commission and outside the official program are subject to the same limitations and reporting requirements applicable to such events held in the Commonwealth.

OLEC 94-41 (This opinion superseded by OLEC 95-14 issued September 26, 1995) A legislative agent pursuant to KRS 6.811(5) may not serve as a campaign fund-raiser for a current member of the General Assembly running for state-wide office. However, a legislative agent may volunteer for a wide range of campaign activities on behalf of such a candidate.

OLEC 94-42 A member of the General Assembly is prohibited from ex parte contact with a judge relative to a pending or impending judicial proceeding. A member is also prohibited from contacting judicial personnel concerning matters relative to a pending or impending proceeding when the contact is designed to influence the outcome of the proceeding.

OLEC 94-43 Service as a Master Commissioner appointed by a Circuit Court is not incompatible with being a legislator.


1995

OLEC 95-1 A member of the General Assembly may contact a state agency regarding a private business interest. However, the legislator should make clear to the agency that such contact is made as part of private sector activities and not in an official capacity.

OLEC 95-2 Under the Code of Ethics, a member of the General Assembly is not prohibited from participating in sentencing proceedings when such participation is directed through a defendant's counsel and does not violate KRS 6.731(3).

OLEC 95-3 Statements of financial disclosure must be filed by members of the General Assembly who do not seek re-election or resign from office for the final year or partial year of elected service.

OLEC 95-4 Withdrawn

OLEC 95-5 A member of the General Assembly who owns or controls an interest of more than 5% in a business may sell products to the Commonwealth under the Small Purchase Procedures adopted by the Finance and Administration Cabinet requiring three or more informal quotes. Such quotes would come within the exclusion provided in KRS 6.737(3) for sales "which are available on similar terms to members of the legislator's business, occupation, or profession."

OLEC 95-6 Under the Code of Ethics a legislative agent is prohibited from presiding over an endorsement convention for members of the General Assembly or candidates for such office. The same prohibition would apply to an endorsement convention for Kentucky Constitutional offices if any of the candidates are current members of the General Assembly.

OLEC 95-7 A member of the General Assembly is prohibited from serving on a local government airport board in that such a board has the authority to fix rates as provided in KRS 6.764(2).

OLEC 95-8 Legislative agent may not make campaign contributions to a legislator running for other state office, but may "volunteer for a wide range of campaign activities on behalf of a state legislative campaign or legislator's campaign for another office so long as he is not directed in this activity by an employer and does not serve as a fund-raiser."

OLEC 95-9 Members of the General Assembly may accept travel expenses and an honorarium or speaking fee related to attending meetings associated exclusively with their private sector employment and unrelated to their position as a legislator. The source of income for an honorarium or speaking fee would be required to be listed on the legislator's annual financial disclosure form.

OLEC 95-10 (This opinion superseded by OLEC 07-04 issued October 23, 2007) A member of the General Assembly may join with a political party in soliciting contributions for a fund-raising event to be used for legislative races so long as the solicitations are broad-based and not directed solely or primarily at legislative events as provided in KRS 6.626(1). However he may not direct or otherwise exercise control over a particular legislative agent's contribution for the benefit of a selected legislator.

OLEC 95-11 A legislator who owns and operates a consulting firm may provide services to a registered employer so long as the services are not related to his position as a legislator and do not involve lobbying activities. He may not accept pay from a client for helping to formulate a legislative strategy or for sponsoring, supporting, or opposing legislation on behalf of the client. Moreover, a legislator can't accept compensation for providing a client with information on pending legislation, as he would be accepting compensation for performance of his legislative duties. The Code does not prohibit a legislator from advocating a position on legislation at the federal level, but any legislator doing so should be wary of the possibility of adversely impacting public confidence in the integrity of the legislature.

OLEC 95-12 A legislator whose employer seeks to obtain a service contract with a state agency may not serve as his employer's representative in negotiations or otherwise engage in negotiations with the state agency. The Code does not prohibit other, less direct involvement in the contract discussions and preparatory activities. A legislator should be wary of potential conflicts in his private employment and personal interest and his duties in the public interest.

OLEC 95-13 (This opinion superseded by OLEC 99-4 issued December 14, 1999) Legislative agents and employers who purchase food and beverages for legislators and their immediate family members must report the expenditures, even where the legislator subsequently reimburses the agent or employer for the costs incurred. If a legislator pays for food and beverages prior to an event or accepts a meal and simultaneously pays for it, the reporting agent or employer need not report the cost.

OLEC 95-14 A legislative agent is clearly prohibited from making a campaign contribution to a legislator, a candidate for the legislature, or the campaign committee of either. An agent may not serve as a campaign treasurer for a legislator or candidate for the legislature. Likewise, it is unlawful for a legislative agent to serve as a fundraiser for a legislator or legislative candidate, if his activity meets the criteria set forth in KRS 121.170(2).** A legislative agent is prohibited from exercising control over a campaign contribution and directing it to a specific state legislator, legislative candidate, or the campaign committee of either.

** OLEC 93-67 and OLEC 94-41, to the extent that they are read to prohibit legislative agents from serving as volunteer fundraisers who do not meet the requirements set forth in KRS 121.170(2), are superseded by this opinion. The applicable statute, KRS 121.170(2), references only those fundraisers who are required to register with the Registry of Election Finance.

OLEC 95-15 A Kentucky General Assembly member who is also a candidate for Congress may accept contributions from registered legislative agents for the Congressional campaign. A legislative agent may also engage in fundraising activities for the legislator, if the funds are raised for the Congressional race.

OLEC 95-16 A legislator may properly accept an honorarium paid by the Federal Government in connection with an international education program.

OLEC 95-17 The Commission reaffirms its opinion in OLEC 93-52. Associations and other entities that contract for lobbying services through an intermediary are required to register as employers under the Legislative Code of Ethics. Such entities have both a legislative interest and have retained a legislative agent for compensation to lobby.

OLEC 95-18 A newspaper may be provided to members of the General Assembly without cost by an entity or individual not registered with the Commission as an employer or "legislative agent." Expenses incurred by employers or legislative agents related to a media campaign targeted at legislation are outside the jurisdiction of the Legislative Ethics Code and not reportable.


1996

OLEC 96-1 Individual legislators may attend and have no reporting requirements in connection with an event sponsored by a local government entity where food is provided. A local government entity has no reporting requirement for such an event unless the entity engages a person "whose primary responsibility during sessions of the General Assembly is to lobby" and is therefore required to register with the Commission.

OLEC 96-2 Under KRS 6.761 of the Code of Ethics dealing with conflict of interest, a legislator may vote on legislation dealing with issues within the subject matter jurisdiction of a state agency in which he intends to accept employment at a later date. However, voting on legislation dealing with the specific position involved might well constitute a conflict of interest depending on the particular factual situation.

OLEC 96-3 A member of the General Assembly may properly advocate the purchase of his land for a county economic development project so long as he does not use his "official position" to advance the project and makes it clear to the government officials involved that his interests are private and not related to service in the General Assembly.

OLEC 96-4 Under KRS 6.611(2)(b)(8)(e) as amended, a legislator with approval from a majority of the Legislative Research Commission may attend an event held within the State of Kentucky and sponsored by an employer or a legislative agent. A legislator may accept food and beverages and the cost of registration at the event. However, these items must be reported on updated registration statements by an employer or legislative agent in the name of the legislator participating. Transportation, lodging and other auxiliary expenses related to the event may not be accepted by a legislator or provided by an employer or legislative agent.

Under KRS 6.611(2)(b)(12) as amended, an individual legislator may attend an event in the state of Kentucky sponsored by a trade association registered with the Commission. Food and beverages consumed at the event, along with lodging and the cost of registration, may be accepted by a legislator. However, these items must be reported on updated registration statements by the trade association. Transportation and auxiliary expenses such as entertainment not included in the registration fee may not be accepted by a legislator.

Under KRS 6.611(22)(a) as amended, the definition of legislative agent is expanded to include individuals who are engaged for compensation to participate in lobbying activities on behalf of an organized association, coalition, or public interest entity formed for the purpose of promoting or otherwise influencing legislation. The nature and identity of the organized association, coalition, or public interest entity, subject matter or bill numbers of the legislation to be lobbied, and the source of the entity or association's funds and financial resources must be reported to the Commission.

OLEC 96-5 Out-of-state travel by an individual legislator or a group of legislators associated with performance of duties as a legislator requires prior approval from a majority of the Legislative Research Commission. Such travel funded by employers or legislative agents is subject to the detailed reporting requirements of the Code.

OLEC 96-6 Outlines definition of trade association and association for purposes of reporting requirements required by amendments in HB 585.

OLEC 96-7 Addresses issues which relate to a legislator's involvement with the legislative agenda of an association or entity employing that legislator. A legislator is prohibited from accepting outside compensation for providing information on legislation pending in the General Assembly and from providing advice of a general nature to an employer or a client on legislative strategies to pass or defeat legislation in the General Assembly.

OLEC 96-8 Providing legislative information via a Web site does not constitute lobbying within the current meaning of that term in the ethics code. The act of providing the address of a Web site to a legislator is not lobbying even though it is accomplished by direct communication, so long as it is narrowly effected and does not also entail promoting, advocating, or opposing the passage, modification, defeat, or executive approval or veto of any legislation.


1997

OLEC 97-1 General Assembly members may serve as members of an Industrial Development Authority or on a community action agency without violating the Legislative Code of Ethics. A member may also serve as an executive director for a local telecommunication cable TV board without violation of the Code.

OLEC 97-2 Service on the board of directors of a local hospital would not be in violation of KRS 6.764 because the hospital is not a state agency and its board does not have the authority to levy taxes or set rates as contemplated by KRS 6.764(2). The Commission strongly advises members of the General Assembly, before accepting any position to serve on the board of directors of a hospital, to consider KRS 6.731 of the Code of Ethics.


1998

OLEC 98-1 A legislator is permitted to solicit either by letter, or in person, broad-based financial support for a charitable organization. The term "broad-based" in KRS 6.626(1) does not place a limit on the solicitations of organizations employing legislative agents but rather should be used as a guideline in ensuring that the solicitations are varied and not directed only toward those individuals or entities which might be expected to have a particular legislative interest in common. The phrase "primarily at legislative agents" does not impose a definite percentage on the number of legislative agents who are solicited in a charitable solicitation made by a legislator. It requires that a given solicitation not be made under circumstances in which legislative agents are, or appear to be, primary rather than incidental solicitees.

OLEC 98-2 Supersedes OLEC 93-55 and OLEC 94-3 to the extent they discourage a member of the General Assembly from soliciting and accepting campaign contributions in "close proximity" to a regular or special session of the legislature. Campaign contributions solicited or accepted during a special or regular legislative session from an individual or entity with a legislative interest should be subject to a high level of scrutiny by the individual legislator and by the Commission.

OLEC 98-3 The Code of Ethics would not prohibit a legislator from serving as a strategic development consultant with a local community hospital provided lobbying is not one of its required job responsibilities. In serving as a strategic development consultant with a local hospital, a legislator should refrain from participating in activities related to developing a legislative agenda to be communicated to members of the General Assembly. A legislator confronted with a conflict of interest shall follow the proper procedures detailed in KRS 6.761 of the Code of Ethics.

OLEC 98-4 It is not permissible for a lawyer/legislator's associate to represent a county water company before the Public Service Commission because the lawyer/legislator is a sole proprietor and is prohibited by the Code of Ethics from representing a client in any proceeding before the PSC. It is not permissible for the associate to use the legislator's name in correspondence or on stationery in a matter in which the lawyer/legislator is precluded from handling under the provisions of KRS 6.744.

OLEC 98-5 An entertainment facility may offer legislators seating to events for purchase at face value even if public demand exceeds the supply and the price and location of the individual accommodations among legislators varies. To the extent that OLEC 93-66 states otherwise, it is SUPERSEDED.


1999

OLEC 99-1 A legislator may host a monthly or semi-monthly television show in which matters of public interest are discussed by elected officials and other citizens. The legislator may solicit contributions from potential sponsors to underwrite the television show provided those solicitations are broad-based and are not directed solely or primarily at legislative agents.

OLEC 99-2 A legislative agent may sell internet web site services to a legislator without it being reported as a "financial transaction" if the legislative agent's company offers its services to non-governmental businesses and entities with the same or similar fee schedules as those offered to legislators.

If only government-related entities such as those listed in KRS 6.611(18) and/or legislators are the only targeted clients by the legislative agent's company, then the sale of internet web site services to those entities would qualify as a "financial transaction" and would be reportable to the Ethics Commission on an updated registration statement.

The sale of these services would not be reportable as a financial transaction if sold to a political party even though the services may be available to the members which may include legislators, administrators, or other elected officials. However, if sold to an administrative body such as the Legislative Research Commission, then the sale of such services would qualify as a "financial transaction" pursuant to KRS 6.611(18).

OLEC 99-3 The Code of Ethics does not prohibit legislators from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions for a political party during a legislative session. However, the Commission would encourage legislators to apply the strict scrutiny test as set out in OLEC 98-2 to the solicitation and acceptance of contributions for a political party as well as for the legislator's own campaign.

OLEC 99-4 OLEC 95-13 is superseded to the extent that it requires a legislative agent or employer to report the amount spent for food and beverages furnished to a legislator even though during the period covered by the report the legislator reimburses the legislative agent or employer for the cost incurred.

If a legislator pays for food and beverages prior to or at the time he or she is furnished food and beverages by a legislative agent or employer, or if the legislator pays the full value of the meal to the legislative agent or employer by the due date for filing the updated registration statement covering the event, the reporting agent or employer should not include the cost of the meal in an updated registration statement.

If reimbursement is made after the reporting date, that should be noted by the legislative agent or employer by amending the updated registration statement listing the expenditure to show the reimbursement so that the cost of the meal is not included in the $100 limit imposed by KRS 6.811(7).


2000

OLEC 00-1 An employer of a legislative agent may provide a legislator with garbage bags for donation to community youth groups such as the Boy Scouts, or to a school for use by its clubs and organizations for the purpose of picking up roadside litter in the legislator's district. The legislator must deliver the garbage bags within thirty (30) days after receipt and the donation must not be claimed as a charitable contribution for federal income tax purposes.


2001

OLEC 01-01 The Commission stated that a legislator may not solicit a campaign contribution from a legislative agent for the campaign of another legislator. The Ethics Code does not forbid a legislator from making an otherwise appropriate solicitation of funds for another legislator's campaign so long as the solicitation is not made to a legislative agent or agents. This opinion is distinguished from OLEC 95-10 which permitted a legislator's participation in a political party fundraiser which involved the solicitation of legislative agents for contributions to the party.

OLEC 01-02 A legislator may list the Legislative Research Commission's public toll-free telephone number on yard signs, on a personal web-site, or in a constituent newsletter that are paid for with campaign funds so long as the legislator takes all precautions to ensure that the toll-free number is not being utilized for partisan political campaign activity which would be a violation of KRS 6.731(5).

OLEC 01-03 Under the Code of Ethics, a legislator may not use his or her official legislative stationery for private business correspondence whether the stationery is paid for with public or private money. Depending on the surrounding circumstances, a private business communication on official legislative stationery could well fall within the proscriptions of KRS 6.731(2) or (3). The effect of the use of the official stationery for private business is the same regardless of who pays for it.

OLEC 01-04 KRS 6.651(7)(d) prohibits a member of the Legislative Ethics Commission from participating in the management or conduct of the political campaign of a candidate for any state, district, county, or municipal office.


2002

OLEC 02-01 The Code of Ethics would not prohibit a legislative agent from receiving a percentage of a bonus from his employer based on services provided by a communication firm in which the legislative agent has a minority interest and performs some services so long as the firm does not perform any activity that would require registration with the Legislative Ethics Commission.

OLEC 02-02 The Code of Ethics does not forbid a member of the General Assembly from being an employee of an Area Development District or from performing work for a District as an independent contractor.

OLEC 02-03 A properly licensed legislator may represent a client for compensation before the KY Revenue Cabinet in contesting the amount of income tax, interest, or penalty assessed against a client. No fee contingent upon the outcome of the matter may be charged by the legislator.

OLEC 02-04 The spouse of a legislator may be employed as a legislative agent. Both the legislator and spouse must pay close attention to the Code of Legislative Ethics as it applies to them and should not only abide by its provisions but also be careful to avoid any appearance to the contrary.


2003

OLEC 03-01 The $100 limitation on food and beverages furnished to a legislator or his immediate family set out in KRS 6.811(7)(a) and (b) does not apply to food and beverages furnished to a legislator in connection with out-of-state travel which has been approved by the Legislative Research Commission in accordance with KRS 6.747(2).


2004

OLEC 04-01 The Code of Legislative Ethics does not provide that it is a conflict of interest for a legislator who is employed by a state-supported institution of higher learning to participate in legislative discussions of and votes on appropriations for that institution unless the appropriation, etc. under discussion or to be voted on would somehow cause direct personal benefit or detriment to the legislator, a member of his family or a business associate apart from any other member of the class affected by the legislation.

The Code of Legislative Ethics does not bar a legislator from fully participating as a member of a legislative committee or actively serving in a leadership position in a committee before which appropriations for a state-supported institution of higher learning are pending if the legislator is an employee of that institution unless the matter pending before the committee is one in which the legislator has a direct personal interest because it would be of direct personal benefit or detriment to the legislator, a member of his family or a business associate apart from any other member of the class that might be affected by the appropriation.

OLEC 04-02 A legislator may accept tickets to an out-of-state ballgame from a state institution of higher education which employs a legislative agent, provided the ballgame is sponsored or coordinated by the state institution, and the legislator receives prior approval from a majority of the Legislative Research Commission to attend the event.

OLEC 04-03 Pursuant to KRS 6.821, the employer of a legislative agent is required to report to the Commission the expenditures made for each legislator or member of the legislator’s immediate family, as well as for the Governor, the secretary of any cabinet listed in KRS 12.250 or a member of the staff of any of these officials who attends a reception hosted by the employer.

The costs of food and beverages consumed on the premises for each legislator or member of a legislator’s immediate family who attends the reception must be reported in accordance with KRS 6.821(2) and is subject to the $100 annual limitation contained in KRS 6.811(7)(a), unless the reception is one qualifying under KRS 6.611(2)(b)(8), (11) or (12).


2005

OLEC 05-01 A legislative agent (lobbyist) may not make a campaign contribution to any of the four caucus campaign committees provided for in 2005 SB 112.

A legislator may not solicit a campaign contribution from a legislative agent (lobbyist) for any of the four caucus campaign committees provided in 2005 SB 112.


2006

OLEC 06-01 The Code of Legislative Ethics does not prohibit a legislative agent from also being a candidate for the General Assembly.

OLEC 06-02 A legislator may solicit campaign contributions for a caucus campaign committee so long as the legislator complies with the standards governing solicitation for his or her own campaign committee (e.g. may not solicit a lobbyist), and may serve as an official of a caucus campaign committee. The Code contains no provision governing receipt by a legislator or candidate of contributions from a caucus campaign committee.

OLEC 06-03 Lobbyists may voluntarily contribute to or co-host with legislators an event to raise contributions for a political party if the contributions are deposited in the party’s general funds and are not earmarked for a specific legislative race, provided the lobbyist is not requested by a legislator to do so. A legislator may not ask a lobbyist to solicit campaign funds for a political party or a legislative campaign.


2007

OLEC 07-01 Although a lobbyist may not make a contribution, a lobbyist may serve as a co-sponsor or co-host of a fund raising event for the campaign of a legislator who is seeking election to a state constitutional office, provided the lobbyist is acting voluntarily and not at the direction of his or her employer, or at the request of the legislator. The lobbyist may not exercise any control whatsoever over any funds raised at the event and the lobbyist may not contribute anything to the costs of the event.

OLEC 07-02 The non-legislator member of a gubernatorial slate (consisting of a non-legislator and a legislator) may not seek the assistance of a legislative agent to help solicit campaign contributions for the slate.

OLEC 07-03 The Code of Legislative Ethics does not forbid a legislator who is an unpaid director of a non-profit entity furnishing medical care from voting on a state budget which contains a line item appropriation for the non-profit entity. Guidance should be sought from the Attorney General as to the application of Section 57 of the Kentucky Constitution to such a situation.

OLEC 07-04 Political parties are not "civic entities" within the meaning of that term as used in KRS 6.626(1). A legislator may not solicit a contribution from a legislative agent for a political party. To the extent that OLEC 95-10 is to the contrary, it is hereby Superseded.


2008

OLEC 08-01 If the legislation has a similar effect on all facilities forming the class which might become eligible to offer casino gaming, a legislator who is an employee of such a facility may sponsor or support legislation relating to gaming or a proposed constitutional amendment to allow gaming. However, if the legislation applies only to the facility that is the legislator's employer, then the legislator should abstain from voting and disclose his interest in the legislation in accordance with KRS 6.761(2).


2009

OLEC 09-01 A legislative agent may not direct or serve as an officer of a 527 organization which raises or expends funds in support of or in opposition to the election or re-election of an individual to the General Assembly. Whether the organization engages in such activity depends on the circumstances surrounding its raising and expenditure of funds.

A legislative agent is not precluded from consulting with such an organization and providing it with information about candidates for election or re-election even if the organization raises or expends funds in support of or in opposition to such candidates.

A legislative agent whose registration with the Commission is terminated ceases to be bound by the provisions of the Code of Legislative Ethics with respect to campaign contributions to candidates for election or re-election to the General Assembly from the time his registration is terminated.


2011

OLEC 11-01 The Code of Legislative Ethics does not forbid a corporation owned by a legislator from contracting with a local entity, which is a corporate body and political subdivision, to furnish professional services to that entity under a contract let after public notice and competitive bidding.


2012

OLEC 12-01 KRS 6.787(2)(f) requires that each source of gross income in excess of two hundred dollars ($200) received during the preceding year be reported by legislators on their annual financial disclosure form. This includes the source of any receipts from gambling in excess of two hundred dollars ($200).


2013

OLEC 13-01 An incorporated state association of non-profit cooperatives which employs a legislative agent is not required to report to the Commission expenditures made by a local cooperative, not employing a legislative agent, for the attendance and food and beverages consumed by a legislator at a banquet sponsored by the association if the expenditures are independently made by the local cooperative and not made at the request of the association or reimbursed to the cooperative by the association.OLEC 93-18 is hereby superseded.


2014

OLEC 14-01 - It is permissible under the Code of Legislative Ethics for members or employees of the House and Senate Majority and Minority Caucuses to create, maintain, and update legisla​​​​​​​​tive information available through applications such as Facebook, Twitter, a website, and other Internet means.

2015

No Commission opinions were issued in 2015.

2016

OLEC 16-01 - It is permissible under the Code of Legislative Ethics for legislators or candidates to create and maintain campaign fundraising webpages using crowdsourcing websites such as GoFundMe and to use social networking to publicize the fundraising effort, so long as they are used in accordance with the requirements of the Code.