Washington State Ethics Opinions:
Legislators & Public Employees

Updated March 17, 2009.
Prepared by Cheryl Nyberg. Updated by Lori Fossum.


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

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, RCW 42.52. 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. KFW421.5.L4L4 at Reference Area


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- . Arranged by type (advisory opinion or complaint) and year.

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

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


Public Employees

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.


Procedural rules at Washington Administrative Code, Chapter 292-100


Advisory Opinions, 1996- . Includes a subject index.

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


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