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Restricted Activities

The Public Official and Employee Ethics Act delineates certain restricted activities in which persons subject to the Ethics Act may not engage. These restrictions provide the basis upon which Commission rulings are issued.

(a) No public official or public employee shall engage in conduct that constitutes a conflict of interest.  A conflict of interest is defined as use by a public official or public employee of the authority of his office or employment or any confidential information received through his holding public office or employment for the private pecuniary benefit of himself, a member of his immediate family, or a business with which he or a member of his immediate family is associated.  "Conflict" or "conflict of interest" does not include an action having a de minimis economic impact or which affects to the same degree a class consisting of the general public or a subclass consisting of an industry, occupation, or other group which includes the public official or public employee, a member of his immediate family, or a business with which he or a member of his immediate family is associated.

(b) No person shall offer or give to a public official, public employee, or nominee or candidate for public office or a member of his immediate family or a business with which he is associated, anything of monetary value, including a gift, loan, political contribution, reward or promise of future employment based on the offeror's or donor's understanding that the vote, official action, or judgment of the public official or public employee or nominee or candidate for public office would be influenced thereby.

(c) No public official, public employee or nominee or candidate for public office shall solicit or accept anything of monetary value, including a gift, loan, political contribution, reward, or promise of future employment based on any understanding of that public official, public employee or nominee that the vote, official action, or judgment of the public official or public employee or nominee or candidate for public office would be influenced thereby.

(d)  No public official or public employee shall accept an honorarium.

(e)(1) No person shall solicit or accept a severance payment or anything of monetary value contingent upon the assumption or acceptance of public office or employment.

(e)(2) This subsection shall not prohibit:

(i)  Payments received pursuant to an employment agreement in existence prior to the time a person becomes a candidate or is notified by a member of a transition team, a search committee, or a person with appointive power that he is under consideration for public office or makes application for public employment.

(ii)  Receipt of a salary, fees, severance payment, or proceeds resulting from the sale of a person's interest in a corporation, professional corporation, partnership, or other entity resulting from termination or withdrawal therefrom upon the assumption or acceptance of public office or employment.

(e)(3)  Payments made or received pursuant to paragraph (2)(i) and (ii) shall not be based on the agreement, written or otherwise, that the vote or official action of the prospective public official or public employee would be influenced thereby.

(f)  No public official or public employee or his spouse or child or any business in which the person or his spouse or child is associated shall enter into any contract valued at $500 or more with the governmental body with which the public official or public employee is associated or any subcontract valued at $500 or more with any person who has been awarded a contract with the governmental body with which the public official or public employee is associated, unless the contract has been awarded through an open and public process, including prior public notice and subsequent public disclosure of all proposals considered and contracts awarded.  In such a case, a public official or public employee shall not have any supervisory or overall responsibility for the implementation or administration of the contract.  Any contract or subcontract made in violation of this subsection shall be voidable by a court of competent jurisdiction if the suit is commenced within 90 days of the making of the contract or subcontract.

(g)  No former public official or public employee shall represent a person, with promised or actual compensation, on any matter before the governmental body with which he has been associated for one year after he leaves that body.

(h)  No person shall use for any commercial purpose information copied from statements of financial interests required by the Ethics Act or from lists compiled from such statements.

(i)  No former executive-level state employee may for a period of two years from the time that he terminates his state employment be employed by, receive compensation from, assist or act in a representative capacity for a business or a corporation that he actively participated in recruiting to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or that he actively participated in inducing to open a new plant, facility, or branch in the Commonwealth or that he actively participated in inducing to expand an existent plant or facility within the Commonwealth, provided that the above prohibition shall be invoked only when the recruitment or inducement is accomplished by a grant or loan of money or a promise of same from the Commonwealth to the business or corporation recruited or induced to expand.

(j)  Where voting conflicts are not otherwise addressed by the Constitution of Pennsylvania or by any law, rule, regulation, order or ordinance, the following procedure shall be employed.  Any public official or public employee, who in the discharge of his official duties, would be required to vote on a matter that would result in a conflict of interest shall abstain from voting and, prior to the vote being taken, publicly announce and disclose the nature of his interest as a public record in a written memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting at which the vote is taken, provided that whenever a governing body would be unable to take any action on a matter before it because the number of members of the body required to abstain from voting under the provisions of this section makes the majority or other legally required vote of approval unattainable, then such members shall be permitted to vote if disclosures are made as otherwise provided herein.  In the case of a three-member governing body of a political subdivision, where one member has abstained from voting as a result of a conflict of interest, and the remaining two members of the governing body have cast opposing votes, the member who has abstained shall be permitted to vote to break the tie vote if disclosure is made as otherwise provided herein.