CEO 75-71 -- March 31, 1975
STATUS OF MEMBERS OF FLORIDA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION AS PUBLIC OFFICERS
To: Jim Tait, General Counsel, Department of Community Affairs, Tallahassee
Prepared by: Gene L. "Hal" Johnson
Members of the Florida Human Relations Commission are "public officers" pursuant to s. 112.312(7)(b), F. S. (1974 Supp.). As the powers of the commission include the right to receive funds, to recommend measures to eliminate discrimination, and to pass on complaints alleging discrimination, the commission does not fall within the exclusion of solely advisory bodies. Under the Code of Ethics a member of the Board of Building Codes and Standards may, in his private capacity as a general contractor, bid on state and local contracts pursuant to s. 112.312(2), F. S. He should consider, however, the possible application of ss. 839.07 and 839.10, F. S., criminal statutes outside the jurisdiction of this commission, which cover certain business dealings by a public officer.
1. Is Mr. Elvin Martinez, a member of the Florida Human Relations Commission, a public officer within the meaning of part III, Ch. 112, F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida?
2. May Mr. Hayden McCormick, as a member of the Board of Building Codes and Standards, bid on state and local contracts in his private capacity as a general contractor?
Your first question is answered in the affirmative.
As we have stated in previous commission opinions, the test for determining whether the members of a governmental body are public officers is the capacity in which that body functions. Only where the body functions in a solely advisory capacity does the law exclude them from the meaning of the term "public officer." Section 112.312(7)(b), F. S.; CEO 74-22.
A "commission," as defined in s. 20.03(10), F. S., includes:
. . . a body established within a department and exercising limited quasi-legislative or quasi- judicial powers or both independently of the head of the department.
The powers of the Florida Human Relations Commission include the right to receive funds, to recommend measures to eliminate discrimination, and the power to receive, initiate, investigate, hold hearings on, and pass upon complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Section 13.251, F. S.
Based upon this definition and the powers possessed by the commission, we must conclude that the Florida Human Relations Commission does not function in a solely advisory capacity. Thus, its members are public officers and subject to the disclosure provisions of part III, Ch. 112, F. S.
Your second question is answered in the affirmative.
Please find enclosed a copy of a previous commission opinion, CEO 75-7, which we feel is equally applicable to your stated situation.
It should be noted that this opinion is confined to the applicability of the Code of Ethics to the situation you have described. We express no opinion as to the possible application in this instance of ss. 839.07 and 839.10, F. S., criminal statutes covering certain business dealings by a public officer.