DOJ Office of Legal Counsel Opinions

The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of Justice renders legal opinions on questions of law when requested by the President and by the heads of executive branch agencies and departments. In this index, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics provides links to OLC opinions about the conflict of interest statutes--18 U.S.C. §§ 203, 205, 207, 208, and 209.

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August 13, 2008

Applicability of 18 U.S.C. § 207(f) to Public Relations Activities Undertaken for a Foreign Corporation Controlled by a Foreign Government (PDF)

A foreign corporation is a “foreign entity” under 18 U.S.C. § 207(f) if it exercises sovereign authority or functions de jure or de facto. A former official’s proposed activities are not prohibited by section 207(f)(1) if the former official does not provide those services on behalf of a “foreign entity,” regardless of whether the former official’s services incidentally benefit the foreign entity’s interests.

October 23, 2007

Application of 18 U.S.C. § 207 to former CIA Officials’ communications with CIA Employees on detail to other Agencies (PDF)

The prohibition in 18 U.S.C. § 207(c), under which a former high level official, in the year after his departure, may not make “any communication to or appearance before any officer or employee” of his former agency, would apply if former CIA officials make communications to or appearances before CIA employees who are on detail to other agencies.

June 15, 2007

Application of the Emoluments Clause to a Member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director's Advisory Board (PDF)

A member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director's Advisory Board does not hold an "Office of Profit or Trust" under the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

March 30, 2007

Status of Public Company Accounting Oversight Board under 18 U.S.C. § 207(c) (PDF)

A former senior employee of the Securities and Exchange Commission communicating with the Commission on behalf of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board during the year after his service as a senior employee at the Commission ends would not be communicating on behalf of the United States and therefore 18 U.S.C. § 207(c) would apply to bar such a communication.

January 26, 2007

Days of Service by Special Government Employees (PDF)

The longstanding interpretation of the Executive Branch that service by a special government employee during any part of a day counts as a full day under 18 U.S.C. §§ 203 and 205, which impose greater conflict of interest restrictions after a special government employee works 60 days, is reaffirmed.

January 11, 2006

Financial Interests of Nonprofit Organizations (PDF)

Under 18 U.S.C. § 208, a nonprofit organization does not have a “financial interest” in a particular matter solely by virtue of the fact that the organization spends money to advocate a position on the policy at issue in the matter.

September 13, 2005

Application of 18 U.S.C. § 207(c) to Proposed Communications between Retired Navy Flag Officer and Marine Corps Commanders in Iraq (PDF)

It appears that 18 U.S.C. § 207(c) would forbid at least some of the proposed communications between a retired Navy flag officer and Marine Corps commanders regarding the security situation in Iraq.

August 30, 2004

Ethics Issues Raised by the Retention and Use of Flight Privileges by Employees of the FAA (PDF)

Although flight privileges generally do not require disqualification under 18 U.S.C. § 208 from all matters involving the relevant air carrier, a Federal Aviation Administration employee who holds such flight privileges must disqualify him or herself from particular matters where FAA action may have a direct and predictable effect on the relevant air carrier's ability to honor the employee's flight privileges.

June 22, 2004

Application of 18 U.S.C. 207(f) to a Former Senior Employee (PDF)

18 U.S.C. § 207(f) prohibits a former senior employee of an Executive Branch department from representing a foreign entity before Members of Congress within one year of the termination of his employment.

May 8, 2002

Application of Conflict-of-Interest Rules to Appointees Who Have Not Begun Service

In this memorandum the Office of Legal Counsel discusses whether the principal conflict-of-interest rules of the executive branch apply to a person who has been appointed to an office by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate but has not yet begun the duties of that office.