CEO 75-10 -- January 6, 1975
CONFLICT OF EMPLOYMENT
PALM BEACH COUNTY ASSESSOR'S OFFICE DOING BUSINESS WITH TRAVEL AGENCY IN WHICH AN EMPLOYEE HOLDS A MATERIAL INTEREST
To: David L. Reid, Palm Beach County Assessor, West Palm Beach
Prepared by: Patricia Butler
Section 112.313(2), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-l77, Laws of Florida, prohibits an employee of the property appraiser who owns a material interest in a travel agency from doing business with the property appraiser's office when competitive bidding procedures are not followed. Further, the property appraiser has an affirmative duty to prevent such violations by his agency or stand in violation of the Code of Ethics and the oath of office for public service (Florida Constitution, Art. II, s. 5).
Does a prohibited employment exist under s. 112.313(2), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, where a coordinator with the Palm Beach County Assessor's office is an officer and owner of a material interest in Anderson Travel, Inc., a company which does business with the assessor's office?
This question is answered in the affirmative.
Mr. Thomas Anderson is employed as a coordinator with the Palm Beach County Assessor's office. In addition, he is also an officer of and owner of a material interest in Anderson Travel, Inc. This corporation does business with the assessor's office by making travel reservations and purchasing tickets for personnel in the assessor's office. There is no competitive bidding by the assessor's office for air transportation, since federal law prohibits the selling of airline tickets below the published price.
The applicable standard of conduct in this situation states:
No public officer or employee of an agency shall own a material interest in any business entity doing business with the agency of which he is an officer or employee, except in those cases when the business is contracted with full public competition and award is made to the lowest or best bidder or to a consultant in accordance with Chapter 287.055, Florida Statutes. [Section 112.313(2), supra; emphasis supplied.]
This section clearly prohibits an employee of an agency from also owning a material interest in a business entity which conducts business with that employee's agency. The only exception which is recognized to this general prohibition is cases in which the business is contracted with full public competition and award is made to the lowest or best bidder. Since the price of airline tickets may not be discounted, thus precluding full public competition and award to the lowest bidder, Anderson Travel, Inc.'s business with the Palm Beach County Assessor's office does not fall within this stated exception. Therefore, Mr. Anderson has a prohibited conflict under s. 112.313(2), supra. He is an employee of an agency, the assessor's office, owning a material interest in a business entity, Anderson Travel, which is doing business with his agency.
As to your personal involvement in this matter, you are under an affirmative duty to see that your agency does not become involved in conflicts of the type prohibited by part III, Ch. 112, F. S. It is your responsibility to see that this conflict does not continue; otherwise you, yourself, may become entangled in a violation of the Code of Ethics. The oath of office which you took when you entered public service states:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida; that I am duly qualified to hold office under the Constitution of the State; and that I will well and faithfully perform the duties of (title of office) on which I am now about to enter. So help me God. [Florida Constitution, Art. II, s. 5.]
You have a duty to uphold the laws of Florida and to see that they are not violated by any persons over whom you have responsibility.