Standards of Conduct

​​State Officials

The Ethics Commission administers and enforces Wisconsin’s Code of Ethics for Public Officials. The Ethics Code applies to state officials as specified in s. 19.42, Wisconsin Statutes. Following is an overview of the statutory standards. State Public Officials should not:

  • Act officially in a matter in which s/he is privately interested.
  • Use her/his public position for private benefit.
  • Accept transportation, lodging, food, or beverage except as specifically authorized.
  • Solicit or accept rewards or items or services likely to influence her/his official duties.
  • Use confidential information to receive anything of value.
  • Use her/his public position to obtain unlawful benefits.
  • Enter into public contracts without notice.
  • Charge a fee to represent a person before a state agency.
  • Offer or provide influence in exchange for campaign contributions.
  • Accept anything of pecuniary value from a lobbyist or from a lobbyist’s employer.

 Local Officials

What are the rules?

In general, the ethics code contains two kinds of restrictions.  The first restricts an official from personally profiting from holding public office, apart from the receipt of salary and expenses to which the official is entitled.  The second restricts an official from participating in decisions in which the official has a personal financial interest.  More specifically:

Accepting items

  • A local public official may not accept items or services of substantial value for private benefit, or for the benefit of the official's immediate family or associated organizations, if offered because of public position.
  • A local public official may not accept (and no one may offer or give) anything of value that could reasonably be expected to influence the official's vote, official actions or judgment.
  • A local public official may not accept (and no one may offer or give) anything of value that could reasonably be considered a reward for any official action or inaction.

Controlling  conflicting interests

  • A local public official may not take official action substantially affecting a matter in which the official, the official's family, or associated organization has a substantial financial interest.
  • A local public official may not use office or position to produce a substantial benefit for an official, immediate family member, or associated organization.