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    Avoiding conflicts of interest

    Most public officials, especially those at the local level, hold private employment, own businesses and have family in the community. This can make avoiding conflicts of interest a challenge when asked to vote on an ordinance or resolution to provide grants, make budget appropriations or take other actions that benefit a large number of constituents. Withdrawing from a vote is generally sufficient to avoid a conflict, but it can leave a public entity at a standstill if multiple officials have conflicts and must withdraw. One possible solution that is recognized by the Ohio Elections Commission is to sever the action and place the matter that creates a conflict into a separate legislative action, such as a supplemental appropriation. Public officials should work closely with their statutory counsel to determine whether such an action is possible and would be sufficient to avoid ethical violations.

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