Who may request an opinion?
Any person, or that person's authorized agent, who is subject to the Board's jurisdiction. This includes local governmental personnel who desire an opinion on the application of the ethics laws in Chapter 68B. The Board may issue an opinion without receiving a formal request.
What is the purpose/impact of an opinion?
An advisory opinion applies a law or rule to a specific factual situation. An opinion may also announce the Board's interpretation of a law or rule. The advice contained in a Board opinion, if followed, constitutes a defense to a complaint involving the same factual situation.
What laws or rules may I request an opinion on?
- The campaign finance laws in Chapter 68A;
- The executive branch ethics laws in Chapter 68B;
- The local government ethics laws in Chapter 68B;
- The executive branch lobbying laws in Chapter 68B;
- The reporting of gifts and bequests received by a state agency under Iowa Code section 8.7; and
- Any administrative rule adopted by the Board.
Occasionally a Board opinion may discuss a law not in Chapters 68A, 68B, or section 8.7 in order to help interpret the law in those chapters.
How do I request an opinion?
By simply sending a letter or an email to the Board office requesting an opinion. The request must include your name, address, a description of the activity that you are presently undertaking or wish to undertake, and any factual issues surrounding the activity.
What happens after I request an opinion?
The Board's attorney researches the applicable laws and rules and prepares a proposed opinion. At the next Board meeting the Board will review the proposed opinion. After making any changes, the Board adopts the opinion and assigns it a number based on the year issued and number of opinions in the year. The opinion is then sent to you. If you wish to request a modification or reconsideration of an opinion, you must notify the Board within 30 days of the opinion being issued.
Is the opinion a public record?
All advisory opinions are a public record and paper copy is maintained at the Board's office. In addition, all opinions are available for viewing on the Board's Web site.
What happens to the advice contained in an opinion?
Based on an opinion, the Board may seek changes to the law so that the law is easier to read and understand. Also, on an annual basis the Board reviews all the opinions issued for that year and determines if the advice in those opinions should be adopted into rule. Finally, the Board issues updated opinions to notify persons of changes to previous opinions.