CEO 74-75 -- November 25, 1974
APPLICABILITY TO SENATE SERGEANT AT ARMS
To: John Melton, Senate Sergeant at Arms, Tallahassee
Prepared by: Patricia Butler
Under existing statutes, the Senate Sergeant at Arms is not specifically included within the definition of "public officer" as set forth in part III, Ch. 112, F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida. Thus, Mr. Melton, as Senate Sergeant at Arms, is not a public officer for purposes of disclosure under the Code of Ethics. However, the Florida Senate, as a legislative entity, is an agency within the meaning of s. 112.312(1), supra. Mr. Melton is thus an employee of an agency who must comply with applicable provisions set forth in part III, Ch. 112, F. S., particularly the specified interest disclosures to be made on CE Form 3.
1. Is the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate a public officer within the definition of part III, Ch. 112, F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, and therefore subject to the disclosure provisions required of public officers?
2. Is the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate an employee of an agency within the meaning of part III, Ch. 112, supra, and therefore subject to the disclosure provisions as applied to employees of agencies?
Question 1 is answered in the negative.
The preliminary bill which led to the adoption of this law explicitly included within the definition of "public officer":
All legislative employees whose pay grade is staff director I or above, the sergeant at arms of the house and senate, the clerk of the house, the secretary of the senate, the executive director of the joint legislative management committee, the director of the house bill drafting service, and the director of the senate legislative services. [See s. 3, CS for HB 3418, s. 112.312(12)(i); emphasis supplied.]
By deleting this section prior to passage of this bill, the Legislature, in our opinion, intended to exclude this position from the definition of the term "public officer" for purposes of this law. This view is further supported by the fact that no other provision within the definition of this term appears to include the Senate Sergeant at Arms.
Therefore, the Senate Sergeant at Arms is not a public officer for purposes of disclosure under part III, Ch. 112, supra.
Question 2 is answered in the affirmative.
The standards of conduct set forth in part III, Ch. 112, supra, apply both to public officers and employees of agencies. As used in this act, "agency" means: "any state . . . governmental entity, whether executive, judicial or legislative . . . ." (Emphasis supplied.) Section 112.312(1), supra. The Florida Senate, being a state legislative entity, is squarely within the meaning of the term "agency." Thus, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, as an employee of an agency, must comply with the standards of conduct set forth in part III, Ch. 112, supra. See CEO 74-14 and CEO 74-45.
The disclosure provisions of s. 112.313(3), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, 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, such employees must file CE Form 3, Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest. It should be noted that this form is to be filed only if the person has the type of interest or business conflict described in s. 112.313(3), 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 and CEO 74-12.