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Washington State Ethics Opinions: Legislators & Public Employees

Updated June 11, 2012.
Prepared by Cheryl Nyberg. Updated by Lori Fossum (2009).

This guide identifies print and online sources for the laws, rules, and opinions relating to the ethics of Washington State legislators and public employees.

Note: LexisNexis and Westlaw are available only to subscribers with individual passwords and IDs.


Washington State legislators and legislative staff are governed by the Ethics in Public Service Act, Revised Code of Washington Chapter 42.52.

Washington State Legislative Ethics Board

The Legislative Ethics Board (LEB) was established by statute, Revised Code of Washington 42.52.310. It investigates and holds hearings on complaints regarding legislator’s violations of the State Ethics Act. It also issues decisions on complaints and advisory opinions and may impose reprimands, penalties, damages, and costs.

Before the Legislative Ethics Board was established, the Washington State House of Representatives and the Senate had separate ethics boards. A Joint Ethics Board also existed.


LEB Rules

Legislative Ethics Manual, irregular. Includes the Ethics in Public Service Act and the LEB  Rules.
KFW421.5.L4L4 at Reference Area & Internet


The Board issues two types of formal opinions:

  1. Advisory opinions, which address whether particular fact situations involve unethical conduct. The Board may issue advisory opinions in response to a request or on its own initiative.
  2. Complaint opinions, which contain the Board's rulings on complaints made against individual legislators and legislative employees. The LEB website includes an ethics complaint form.

Both types of opinions are available at:

LEB website, 1995-date.
Arranged by type (advisory opinion or complaint) and year.

Legislative Search, 1995-date.
Select "Ethics" and search by name or topic.

Ethics Reference Material, 1995- . Contains advisory opinions and decisions on complaints.
KFW421.5.L4 A5 1996 at Reference Area


Public Employees

Washington State Executive Ethics Board

The Executive Ethics Board was established by statute, Revised Code of Washington 42.52.350. It enforces the State Ethics Act RCW 42.52, which covers statewide elected officials and officers and employees of the executive branch, boards, commissions, and public colleges and universities. The Board issues advisory opinions and may impose reprimands and penalties.


Agency rules are published in the Washington Administrative Code.


Advisory Opinions, 1996-date.
Also arranged by subject.

LexisNexis: WA Executive Ethics Board Opinions and State Bar Association Formal Opinions

Results of  Enforcement, 1996-date.
Includes stipulated facts, conclusions, and orders.


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