State officials required by Connecticut’s popular ethics laws to disclose their income are allowed in some cases to use vague terms such as “clients” to describe how they earn a living.

Most state officials required to file a statement of financial interest – including elected officials and certain state employees plus appointed members of some boards and commissions – disclose their employer or employers. They also have to disclose the employers of other people in their household such as spouses or children.

Officials who are paid directly by clients, however, are able to simply disclose that fact, without revealing any of their individual clients.

“Prior to 1997, the names and addresses of specific clients, patients and customers was required to be reported,” said Carol Carson, executive director of the Office of State Ethics. “Generally, individuals whose income derives from such clients, patients and customers report that the income came from a business entity.”

For example, consultant and former labor official Lawrence Fox – an appointed member of the State Contracting Standards Board – disclosed “clients” as a source of income on his most recent statement of financial interest.

Fox said he was appointed to the board during the administration of Gov. M. Jodi Rell by then Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden. He said he has not attended a meeting of the board since the election of Gov. Dannel Malloy.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, Connecticut’s ethics laws rank second in the country, after New Jersey’s.