Informal Opinion - A non-binding opinion issued by the staff on a real or hypothetical set of facts or circumstances.
Formal Opinion- A binding opinion issued by the commissioners on a real or hypothetical set of facts or circumstances.
Who can request a formal/informal opinion?
An informal or formal advisory opinion may be requested by any person to whom the Act could reasonably be expected to apply. The request must be in writing and relate prospectively to a real or hypothetical set of facts or circumstances. The Commission will not issue an advisory opinion to a third party about another person without authorization from the affected person.
The Commission will consider advisory opinion requests having prospective application only. An opinion request requiring consideration of past conduct or events may be referred to the appropriate supervisory office and an investigation of any potential violation may be conducted.
A formal advisory opinion shall be considered by the Commission at a public meeting. The person whose conduct is the subject of the request may appear at the meeting. The Commission's written opinion will be provided to the requestor and made public unless the affected parties request confidentiality. Formal advisory opinions are the final opinion of the Commission unless new and material facts are submitted which, in the opinion of staff and upon a majority vote of the Commission, warrant reconsideration.
How to request a formal/informal opinion?
A request for opinion shall include the signature, address, and telephone number of the requestor and shall set forth a complete set of facts and circumstances giving rise to the request. Failure to disclose relevant information may void the opinion. Requests may be made by writing, faxing, or telephoning the Commission. Members of or candidates for the House of Representatives and Senate should request opinions from the appropriate legislative ethics committee.
State Ethics Commission
201 Executive Center Drive, Suite 150
Columbia, SC 29210
Phone: (803) 253-4192
Fax: (803) 253-7539
A person requesting an advisory opinion may request confidentiality in which case his name and governmental entity will not be disclosed in the advisory opinion. Upon a majority vote of the Commission members present, a confidential advisory opinion may be discussed in executive session.