Advisory Opinion No. 96-23

Re: Adrienne G. Southgate, Esq.


The General Counsel for the Public Utilities Commission requests an advisory as to whether Members of the Commission may appear and testify before, or otherwise express their opinions to, members of the Rhode Island General Assembly regarding 96-H 8124, the Utility Restructuring Act of 1996 ("URA"), in that certain provisions of the bill would directly affect the Members of the Commission.


Commission Regulation 36-14-7003, Public Forum Exceptions, specifically permits any public official or employee to publicly expressing his or her own viewpoint in a public forum on any matter of general public interest or on any matter which directly affects said individual. This exception to the general prohibitions of the Code of Ethics acknowledges that public officials and employees do not forfeit their First Amendment rights by virtue of serving in a public position. Therefore, so long as the Members of the Commission testify and/or otherwise express their viewpoints on the subject legislation in public forums and without gaining unique access to forums or individuals owing to their public positions, there is no violation of the Code of Ethics.

Code Citation:



public forum exception