In California, state and federal laws create a complex set of requirements laws that guide elected officials and agency staff in their service to their communities.
As extensive and complex as these laws are, it is important to remember ethics laws only constitute minimum standards for officials’ conduct. The law is a floor for public official conduct, not a ceiling: just because a particular course of action is legal does not mean it is ethical.
Agency counsel plays an important role in providing information on public service ethics laws. Understanding that role (and its limitations) is important for public agency officials and public agency attorneys alike.
Although the Institute endeavors to help local officials understand technical and legal concepts that apply to their public service, these materials are not technical or legal advice. Officials are encouraged to consult technical experts, attorneys and/or relevant regulatory authorities for up-to-date information and advice on specific situations.