Overview of the Office of Ethics & Campaign Finance

What the OECF Does

Advice and Guidance
  • Help City officials and employees navigate the nuances of ethical conduct in public service, including standards of conduct and avoiding conflicts of interest or appearances of impropriety.
  • Interpret ethics and campaign finance laws to provide clear guidance on complex matters.
Policy and Protocol Development
  • Develop and update ethics and campaign finance policies and guidance to reflect the evolving legal landscape and best practices.
  • Collaborate with legal experts and stakeholders to ensure policies are comprehensive and enforceable. 
Training, Education and Promotion of Ethical Culture
  • Facilitate and assist City ethics and campaign finance training programs and protocols.
  • Work with City Human Resources, Department Directors and elected officials to ensure that all City employees sign a pledge of ethical conduct when fire hired and complete mandatory annual ethics training. 
Complaint Reviews, Referrals and Intra-Governmental Coordination
  • Conduct initial review of allegations of ethics or campaign finance-related violations or misconduct.
  • When appropriate, consult with the City Attorney and refer complaints to, and coordinate with, relevant regulatory, investigative and law enforcement agencies.
Reporting, Compliance and Auditing
  • Oversee and manage the filing of ethics financial disclosures, campaign finance reports and other ethics and campaign finance-related filings and documents. 
  • Ensure timely and accurate ethics and campaign finance filing, provide assistance and follow-up where necessary. 

What the OECF Does Not Do

Legal Representation
  • Does not serve as legal counsel or advocate for individual citizens or public groups, individual City employees, or the City of Columbus.
Non-City Regulations
  • Does not serve as the primary regulator of federal or state ethics or campaign finance laws. Allegations of breaches of federal or state law may be referred to the primary regulator. 
Political Activity
  • Does not oversee or regulate City official or employee political activities or speech provided that such political activity is separate from and does not interfere with or arise from official capacities, or otherwise implicate ethics or campaign finance laws.
Investigation and Law Enforcement
  • Does not directly enforce laws or impose penalties. The OECF's primary function is to advise and educate, not to act as a law enforcement or investigative entity.
Enforcement of Advisory Opinions and Recommendations
  • Does not issue legally binding opinions and recommendations. While OECF advisory opinions and recommendations provide authoritative guidance, the ultimate responsibility for adhering to the law rests with each individual or organization.
Political Process
  • Does not oversee, participate in, or influence political decision-making or campaign strategies. The role of the OECF is to encourage ethical conduct and compliance within ethics and campaign finance laws. 
Human Resources
  • Does not oversee human resources or other personnel performance issues. Such issues may be referred to the appropriate City department or external agency. 

What Is/Is Not Regulated Under Ethics Laws

What is Regulated Under Ohio and City Ethics Laws:
  • Improper Gifts
  • Revolving Door/Post-Employment
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Supplemental Compensation
  • Public Contracts
  • Nepotism or Influence Peddling
  • Honoraria
  • Confidential Information
  • Use of City of Columbus Brand
  • Political Activity by Classified Employees
What is Not Regulated Under Ohio and City Ethics Laws:
  • Private Activities: Matters strictly related to any individual official or employee's private life that does not impact their public role or responsibilities. 
  • Freedom of Expression: Personal or political views or expressions that do not conflict with ethical standards or official duties, or implicate campaign finance regulations.
  • Non-Governmental Professional Activities: Activity unrelated to public office or public service, provided it adheres to the conflict of interset provisions of the Ethics Law.