Legal Briefs: Ethics in Ohio - Soliciting and Accepting Gifts


This issue’s legal brief discusses Ohio’s ethics statutes as they apply to university employees. Additional information on the topic of ethics will be presented by the Ohio Ethics Commission, sponsored by the Office of the University Counsel, at an ethics seminar in April.

University Counsel Announcement

The Office of University Counsel will be presenting an ethics seminar conducted by the Ohio Ethics Commission on April 25 in the Moulton Hall Ballroom. The seminar will last approximately three hours and will cover such topics as: conflict of interest, public contracts and revolving door (post-employment). Stay tuned to legal briefs as more information on this seminar will be coming soon.

Ethics in Ohio Soliciting and Accepting Gifts The Ohio Ethics Commission and the Office of University Counsel advises that university employees should not solicit or accept any things of value from parties you regulate or with whom they do business.

Under Ohio law, as it applies to state ethics statutes, Kent State University is a public agency, and all university’s employees are defined as “officials.” As such, the Ohio Ethics Law Ohio Revised Code Chapter 102 and related statutes prohibit university employees from:

  • Soliciting, accepting or using the authority of your position to secure a gift, meal, entertainment or other thing of value if it is of a substantial nature and is provided by someone that the university oversees, that has interest in university matters, or that is doing or seeking to do business with the university; and
  • Accepting anything, regardless of its value, if the item is provided to you as compensation for the performance of your university duties.

Some things of value, because of their source, could be determined to have an "improper" influence on you in the performance of your duties. A person, company, or other private or public entity or association that the university oversees, that has interest in university matters, or that is doing or seeking to do business with the university is an improper source of gifts, meals, entertainment activities and other things of value offered to you.

Some things of value, because of their nature, could be determined to have a "substantial" influence on you in the performance of your duties. Gifts, meals at expensive restaurants, entertainment activities, such as exclusive golf outings and season tickets to the games of a professional sports team, are of a substantial value. Jewelry, discounts on major consumer items, and travel, meal, and lodging expenses are also of substantial value. 

Small gifts, books, meals at family restaurants, promotional items, inexpensive entertainment and other things of nominal value, will not likely have a substantial influence on you. However, you could be found to be influenced in the performance of your duties by accepting multiple items of minimal value from the same source. In some circumstances, accepting items of minimal value may create an appearance of impropriety, even if it is not illegal.

The Ohio Ethics Commission and the Office of University Counsel advises that university employees should not solicit or accept any things of value from parties you regulate or with whom they do business.

(Source: Ohio Ethics Commission http://ethics.ohio.gov/ethicshome.html)

“Legal Briefs” appears in e-Inside periodically to keep faculty and staff informed of legal issues and their implications. Content is provided by the Office of the University Counsel, whose mission is to ensure high-quality legal services to Kent State University in a timely, cost-effective manner, to reduce litigation and ensure legal compliance.


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