CEO 74-47 -- October 30, 1974
APPLICABILITY TO REGIONAL PLANNING COUNCIL MEMBERS AND EMPLOYEES
To: Ben Daniel, Ocala
Prepared by: Patricia Butler
Although the Withlacoochee Regional Planning Council is an advisory body, s. 112.312(7)(i), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, expressly includes within the definition of "public officer" members of planning boards or any boards having jurisdiction with respect thereto. This specific inclusion must control over s. 112.312(7)(b), which excludes advisory board members from general categories of public officers. Thus, members of said council are public officers subject to provisions for that status under part III, Ch. 112, F. S. Further, the Withlacoochee Regional Planning Council is an agency as defined in s. 112.312(1), supra. Employees of the council are thus subject to disclosure provisions of s. 112.313(3), supra, relevant to employees of agencies.
1. Are the members of the Withlacoochee Regional Planning Council public officers within the meaning of part III, Ch. 112, F. S., as amended by Ch. 74- 177, Laws of Florida, even though the council is an advisory body and the members serve without compensation?
2. Are full-time employees of the Withlacoochee Regional Planning Council employees of an agency within the meaning of part III, Ch. 112, F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, and therefore subject to the disclosure law as it applies to employees of agencies?
Question 1 is answered in the affirmative.
We are of the opinion that members of planning councils are public officers within the meaning of part III, Ch. 112, supra. Section 112.312(7)(i), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, supra, specifically defines public officers to include "[a]ll members of planning boards . . . or any boards having jurisdiction with respect thereto." This language, in its specificity, must control over s. 112.312(7)(b) which excludes advisory board members from the following general categories of officers: "[m]embers of boards, commissions, authorities, special taxing districts, and the head of each state agency, however selected . . . ." This exclusion of advisory boards applies only to those categories stated above; it has no application to other subsections or paragraphs within the definition section of this law.
Section 112.312(7)(i), supra, makes no reference whatsoever to any status of compensation in defining public officers. Consequently, this cannot be a factor in our determination of one's status under part III, Ch. 112, supra.
We must conclude that the members of the Withlacoochee Regional Planning Council are public officers because of the express inclusion of planning boards or any boards having jurisdiction with respect thereto. Section 112.312(7)(i), supra. We make no determination as to whether this council qualifies as an advisory board within the meaning of s. 112.312(7)(b), supra, as the members are deemed to be public officers whether or not an advisory status exists.
Your second question is answered in the affirmative.
The standards of conduct in s. 112.313, F. S., apply both to public officers and to employees of agencies. As used in this act, "agency" means:
. . . any state, county, local or municipal governmental entity, whether executive, judicial, or legislative, and therein any department, division, bureau, commission, authority . . . . [Section 112.312(1), F. S.]
It is our opinion that the Withlacoochee Regional Planning Council is an agency within the meaning of that term as defined above. The fact that the employees of the council are not paid directly from any city, county, state, or federal government has no bearing on the applicability of this law to them since they are employees of an agency and, as such, are subject to the provisions of s. 112.313, supra.
The disclosure provisions of s. 112.313(3), supra, state in part:
If a public officer or employee of an agency is an officer, director, partner, proprietor, associate or general agent (other than a resident agent solely for service of process) of, or owns a material interest in, any business entity which is granted a privilege to operate, or is doing business with an agency of which he is an officer or employee, he shall file a statement disclosing such facts within forty-five days of becoming an officer or employee or within forty-five (45) days of the acquisition of such position or of such material interest. (Emphasis supplied.)
If applicable, employees of the Withlacoochee Regional Planning Council must file CE Form 3, Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest. It should be noted that this form is to be filed only if an employee has the type of interests or business conflicts described by s. 112.313(3), F. S., supra. CE Form 3 is not required to be filed if the response to each question therein would be "none" or "not applicable." See CEO 74-2.
We emphasize that this opinion is based only on the factual situation which you have stated in your request for an official opinion. Therefore we have not addressed the possibility that certain employees may be public officers by virtue of having purchasing agent powers, or by accepting compensation for consultations with other state agencies.