The Oregon Government Ethics Commission (OGEC), established by vote of the people in 1974, is a seven-member citizen commission charged with enforcing government ethics laws. Oregon government ethic laws prohibit public officials from using office for financial gain, and require public disclosure of economic conflicts of interest. The OGEC also enforces state laws that require lobbyists and the entities they represent to register and periodically report their expenditures. The third area of OGEC jurisdiction is the executive session provisions of public meetings law.
During the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s, Americans were confronted with deceit and misuse of power by elected officials. Citizens across the nation began calling for accountability from their governments. In response, Oregon was one of the first states to create laws designed to open government to greater public scrutiny.
In 1974, more than 70 percent of the voters approved a statewide ballot measure to create the OGEC. The ballot measure also established a set of laws (ORS Chapter 244) requiring financial disclosure by certain officials and creating a process to deal with the inevitable question of conflicts of interest. The drafters of the original laws recognized that "conflict of interest" is, indeed, inevitable in any government that relies on citizen lawmakers.
The OGEC is administered by an executive director selected by the commissioners. The commission also employs seven full-time staff members who are appointed by the executive director, including investigators, trainers, executive support and administrative staff.
Oregon Government Ethics Commission
3218 Pringle Rd. SE, Suite 220
Salem, OR 97302-1544