CEO 74-4 -- September 3, 1974
APPLICABILITY OF TERM TO BROWARD COUNTY
CHARTER COMMISSION MEMBERS
To: Frank C. Walker, Fort Lauderdale
Prepared by: Lawrence A. Gonzalez
Definition of the term "public officer" as given in s. 112.312(7)(b), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, excludes only members of boards whose powers are solely advisory. A board with solely advisory powers submits recommendations to an officer or agency having complete discretion to accept or reject the advisory board's advice. Since the Broward County Charter Commission is drafting a charter to be presented to the electorate, the commission is directly responsible to the electorate and not to an officer or agency with final approval powers. The commission is therefore not an advisory board, and members of the commission are public officers subject to provisions for financial disclosure.
Are members of the Broward County Charter Commission, who were appointed by the legislative delegation, public officers within the meaning of Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
The opinion of the Ethics Commission is that the commission members are public officers within the definition of s. 112.312(7)(b), F. S. 1974, which includes: "[m]embers of boards, commissions, authorities, special taxing districts, and the head of each state agency, however selected, but excluding advisory board members." (Emphasis supplied.)
The broad language of s. 112.312(7)(b) is indicative of the intent of the Legislature that all commission members are within the definition of public officers. This broad reading is strengthened by the narrow and specific exception: Advisory board members. An advisory board is one which renders advice or recommendations to an officer or agency. This officer or agency then has complete discretion to accept or reject the advice or recommendation presented by the advisory board. Since the Broward County Charter Commission is drawing up a charter which is to be presented to the electorate, it would not be advisory in nature. The commission, in placing its proposed charter on the ballot, is directly responsible to the electorate, not to an officer or agency which would approve the charter before placing it on the ballot. Since the commissioners are not acting in an advisory capacity, they are public officers within the definition of s. 112.312(7)(b), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida.
Even though the commission will terminate in November 1974, the disclosures of the commissioners should be filed in accordance with s. 112.3145(1), F. S., which states: ". . . A public officer . . . shall file a statement of disclosure no later than twelve o'clock noon of May 15th of each year, including the May 15th following the last year a public officer is in office . . . ." (Emphasis supplied.) You are referred to "A Guide to the 1974 Public Disclosure and Conflicts of Interest Act," by the Ethics Commission of Florida, which will aid you in determining when and where the Financial Disclosure Statement is to be filed.