(a) Any governing body or member thereof subject to the provisions of this article may seek advice and information from the executive director of the West Virginia Ethics Commission or request in writing an advisory opinion from the West Virginia Ethics Commission Committee on Open Governmental Meetings as to whether an action or proposed action violates the provisions of this article. The executive director may render oral advice and information upon request. The committee shall respond in writing and in an expeditious manner to a request for an advisory opinion. The opinion is binding on the parties requesting the opinion.
(b) Any governing body or member thereof that seeks an advisory opinion and acts in good faith reliance on the opinion has an absolute defense to any civil suit or criminal prosecution for any action taken in good faith reliance on the opinion unless the committee was willfully and intentionally misinformed as to the facts by the body or its representative.
(c) A governing body or member thereof that acts in good faith reliance on a written advisory opinion sought by another person or governing body has an absolute defense to any civil suit or criminal prosecution for any action taken based upon a written opinion of the West Virginia Ethics Commission committee, as long as underlying facts and circumstances surrounding the action were the same or substantially the same as those being addressed by the written opinion.
(d) The committee and commission may take appropriate action to protect from disclosure information which is properly shielded by an exception provided in section four of this article.