Standards of conduct; state public officials. 19.45(1)(1)
The legislature hereby reaffirms that a state public official holds his or her position as a public trust, and any effort to realize substantial personal gain through official conduct is a violation of that trust. This subchapter does not prevent any state public official from accepting other employment or following any pursuit which in no way interferes with the full and faithful discharge of his or her duties to this state. The legislature further recognizes that in a representative democracy, the representatives are drawn from society and, therefore, cannot and should not be without all personal and economic interest in the decisions and policies of government; that citizens who serve as state public officials retain their rights as citizens to interests of a personal or economic nature; that standards of ethical conduct for state public officials need to distinguish between those minor and inconsequential conflicts that are unavoidable in a free society, and those conflicts which are substantial and material; and that state public officials may need to engage in employment, professional or business activities, other than official duties, in order to support themselves or their families and to maintain a continuity of professional or business activity, or may need to maintain investments, which activities or investments do not conflict with the specific provisions of this subchapter.
No state public official may use his or her public position or office to obtain financial gain or anything of substantial value for the private benefit of himself or herself or his or her immediate family, or for an organization with which he or she is associated. This subsection does not prohibit a state public official from using the title or prestige of his or her office to obtain contributions permitted and reported as required by ch. 11
No person may offer or give to a state public official, directly or indirectly, and no state public official may solicit or accept from any person, directly or indirectly, anything of value if it could reasonably be expected to influence the state public official's vote, official actions or judgment, or could reasonably be considered as a reward for any official action or inaction on the part of the state public official. This subsection does not prohibit a state public official from engaging in outside employment.
No state public official may accept or retain any transportation, lodging, meals, food or beverage, or reimbursement therefor, except in accordance with ss. 13.625 (4m)
and 19.56 (3)
No state public official may intentionally use or disclose information gained in the course of or by reason of his or her official position or activities in any way that could result in the receipt of anything of value for himself or herself, for his or her immediate family, or for any other person, if the information has not been communicated to the public or is not public information.
No state public official may use or attempt to use the public position held by the public official to influence or gain unlawful benefits, advantages or privileges personally or for others.
No state public official, member of a state public official's immediate family, nor any organization with which the state public official or a member of the official's immediate family owns or controls at least 10 percent of the outstanding equity, voting rights, or outstanding indebtedness may enter into any contract or lease involving a payment or payments of more than $3,000 within a 12-month period, in whole or in part derived from state funds, unless the state public official has first made written disclosure of the nature and extent of such relationship or interest to the commission and to the department acting for the state in regard to such contract or lease. Any contract or lease entered into in violation of this subsection may be voided by the state in an action commenced within 3 years of the date on which the commission, or the department or officer acting for the state in regard to the allocation of state funds from which such payment is derived, knew or should have known that a violation of this subsection had occurred. This subsection does not affect the application of s. 946.13
No state public official who is identified in s. 20.923
may represent a person for compensation before a department or any employee thereof, except:
In a contested case which involves a party other than the state with interests adverse to those represented by the state public official; or
At an open hearing at which a stenographic or other record is maintained; or
In a matter that involves only ministerial action by the department; or
In a matter before the department of revenue or tax appeals commission that involves the representation of a client in connection with a tax matter.
This subsection does not apply to representation by a state public official acting in his or her official capacity.
Except in the case where the state public office formerly held was that of legislator, legislative employee under s. 20.923 (6) (bp)
, chief clerk of a house of the legislature, sergeant at arms of a house of the legislature or a permanent employee occupying the position of auditor for the legislative audit bureau:
No former state public official, for 12 months following the date on which he or she ceases to be a state public official, may, for compensation, on behalf of any person other than a governmental entity, make any formal or informal appearance before, or negotiate with, any officer or employee of the department with which he or she was associated as a state public official within 12 months prior to the date on which he or she ceased to be a state public official.
No former state public official, for 12 months following the date on which he or she ceases to be a state public official, may, for compensation, on behalf of any person other than a governmental entity, make any formal or informal appearance before, or negotiate with, any officer or employee of a department in connection with any judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding, application, contract, claim, or charge which might give rise to a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding which was under the former official's responsibility as a state public official within 12 months prior to the date on which he or she ceased to be a state public official.
No former state public official may, for compensation, act on behalf of any party other than the state in connection with any judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding, application, contract, claim, or charge which might give rise to a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding in which the former official participated personally and substantially as a state public official.
The attorney general may not engage in the private practice of law during the period in which he or she holds that office. No justice of the supreme court and no judge of any court of record may engage in the private practice of law during the period in which he or she holds that office. No full-time district attorney may engage in the private practice of law during the period in which he or she holds that office, except as authorized in s. 978.06 (5)
This section does not prohibit a legislator from making inquiries for information on behalf of a person or from representing a person before a department if he or she receives no compensation therefor beyond the salary and other compensation or reimbursement to which the legislator is entitled by law, except as authorized under sub. (7)
The legislature recognizes that all state public officials and employees and all employees of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority should be guided by a code of ethics and thus:
The director of the bureau of merit recruitment and selection in the department of administration shall, with the commission's advice, promulgate rules to implement a code of ethics for classified and unclassified state employees except state public officials subject to this subchapter, personnel in the University of Wisconsin System, and officers and employees of the judicial branch.
The board of regents of the University of Wisconsin System shall establish a code of ethics for personnel in that system who are not subject to this subchapter.
The supreme court shall promulgate a code of judicial ethics for officers and employees of the judiciary and candidates for judicial office which shall include financial disclosure requirements. All justices and judges shall, in addition to complying with this subchapter, adhere to the code of judicial ethics.
The board of directors of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority shall establish a code of ethics for employees of the authority who are not state public officials.
No state public official or candidate for state public office may, directly or by means of an agent, give, or offer or promise to give, or withhold, or offer or promise to withhold, his or her vote or influence, or promise to take or refrain from taking official action with respect to any proposed or pending matter in consideration of, or upon condition that, any other person make or refrain from making a political contribution, or provide or refrain from providing any service or other thing of value, to or for the benefit of a candidate, a political party, any committee registered under ch. 11
, or any person making a communication that contains a reference to a clearly identified state public official holding an elective office or to a candidate for state public office.
If a state public official receives an item that the official is not permitted to accept or retain under this subchapter or subch. III of ch. 13
, the official shall do one of the following:
Give the item to the official's agency to use or sell, except that the agency may not sell the item to any government employee or official.
Give the item to another state agency or to a public institution, such as a local school, library, or museum, that can use the item.
Give the item to a charitable organization, as defined in s. 11.0101 (4)
, not including a charitable organization with which the official or his or her immediate family is associated.
If the donor is neither a lobbyist, as defined in s. 13.62 (11)
, nor a principal, as defined in s. 13.62 (12)
, purchase the item at its full retail value and keep the item.
History: 1973 c. 90
; Stats. 1973 s. 11.05; 1973 c. 334
; Stats. 1973 s. 19.45; 1977 c. 29
; 1977 c. 196
s. 130 (2)
; 1977 c. 223
; 1977 c. 418
s. 923 (14)
; 1977 c. 419
; 1979 c. 120
; 1983 a. 27
, 2200 (15)
; 1983 a. 166
; 1985 a. 332
s. 251 (1)
; 1987 a. 365
; 1989 a. 31
; 1991 a. 39
; 1995 a. 27
; 1997 a. 27
; 2001 a. 109
; 2003 a. 33
; 2003 a. 39
; 2007 a. 1
; 2011 a. 32
; 2013 a. 20
; 2015 a. 55
; 2015 a. 118
s. 266 (10)
; 2021 a. 266
See also ch. ER-MRS 24
, Wis. adm. code.
A county board may provide for a penalty in the nature of a forfeiture for a violation of a code of ethics ordinance but may not bar violators from running for office. A violation is not a neglect of duties under s. 59.10 [now s. 59.15] or an ipso facto cause for removal under s. 17.09 (1). 66 Atty. Gen. 148. See also 67 Atty. Gen. 164.
The ethics law does not prohibit a state public official from purchasing items and services that are available to the official because the official holds public office. If the opportunity to purchase the item or service itself has substantial value, the purchase of the item or service is prohibited. 80 Atty. Gen. 201