CEO 74-9 -- September 25, 1974
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
APPEARANCES BY PUBLIC OFFICER WITHOUT
FEE OR COMMISSION
To: Bill Fulford, Representative, 40th District, Orlando
Prepared by: Gerald Knight
Notwithstanding the exclusion from disclosure provisions those appearances made without fee or commission by a public officer on behalf of another before his own agency or any agency at the same level of government as his own agency [s. 112.3145(1)(c), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida], the intent of the provision is to disclose situations in which public officers may use their office to influence actions by public agencies. The "fee or commission" provision should not be limited to moneys but applies to compensation by whatever name, since the provision is intended to disclose interests, not solely moneys. Therefore, Mr. Fulford, as president and major stockholder in a public carrier company, must file CE Form 2 disclosing his appearances (even those without fee or commission) as an attorney in behalf of such company before the Public Service Commission. Further, he is required to file CE Form 3 disclosing his status and interest in the public carrier company, as a business entity controlled by the Public Service Commission [see s. 112.312(7), supra].
As president and major stockholder of a public carrier company licensed and regulated by the Public Service Commission, is a member of the Florida House of Representatives required to comply with s. 112.3145(1)(c), F. S., as created by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, if he represents such company without fee or commission before the Public Service Commission in public necessity and convenience hearings?
Section 112.3145(1)(c), F. S., created by s. 5, Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, provides, in general, that
[a]ny public officer or candidate who represents another before his own agency or any agency at the same level of government as his agency, except in ministerial matters, for a fee or commission shall list the agencies before which he appears, and the name of the client whom he represented, in a quarterly report subsequent to such appearance.
The form for filing the quarterly report required by this provision is CE Form 2.
Against this background, you state that you are a member of the Florida House of Representatives and are president and major stockholder in a public carrier company licensed by the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.). You also state that you represent such company without fee or commission before the P.S.C. in public necessity and convenience hearings. You inquire as to whether you are required to file the disclosure statement required by s. 112.3145(1)(c), supra.
We are of the opinion that the foregoing provision of Ch. 74-177, supra, was directed at disclosing those situations in which public officers or candidates may attempt to use, or hold out the prospect of using, the office they hold or the office they seek to influence actions by such public agencies. We are aware of the possible interpretation of a limited application to those public officers or candidates who receive "a fee or commission" for their services, but we feel that this provision should be construed to apply to compensation by whatever name. Otherwise, the obligation could easily be avoided by a simple exercise in semantics. We feel, therefore, that you are required to file CE Form 2 under the circumstances stated.
You should also give consideration to the provisions of Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, which requires the filing of a statement of disclosure by any public officer or employee of an agency (see s. 112.312(1), id., for definition of "agency") who is an officer of, or who owns a material interest in, any business entity which is granted a privilege to operate. A business entity which is granted a "privilege to operate" is defined in s. 112.312(7), id., to include "any entity controlled by the public service commission." The form for making such a disclosure, apparently required in the instant situation, is CE Form 3.