CEO 75-83 -- April 25, 1975
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST WHERE PUBLIC OFFICER IS PRESIDENT OF A FOUNDATION
To: Bruce Smathers, Secretary of State, Tallahassee
Prepared by: Jeff Trammel
No conflict of interest exists where the Director of the Florida Fine Arts Council also serves as the president of a private, nonprofit foundation devoted to the arts. As the foundation neither receives, utilizes, nor expends any funds under the control of the council, no conflict is created between the officer's public duties and his private interests. Rather, the two entities share a common interest in promoting the arts in Florida.
Does a conflict of interest exist where the Director of the Florida Fine Arts Council, a full- time, paid state employee, also serves as the president of a private, nonprofit foundation for which he receives salary?
This question is answered in the negative.
From the information provided in your letter and the additional information provided by Mr. S. Leonard Pas, Jr., the director in question, a few items are readily established. First, as Director of the Florida Fine Arts Council, Mr. Pas is a public officer within the meaning of that term as used in the Code of Ethics, which states that a public officer includes "any person employed . . . in the office of any member of the cabinet who is exempt from the career service system . . . ." Section 112.312(7)(e), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74- 177, Laws of Florida. Second, the foundation of which Mr. Pas is president is a business entity as designated by the term "corporation" as defined in s. 112.312(2), supra, and s. 691.11, F. S., describing charitable trusts.
The possible conflict of interest you wish resolved results from the fact that the director also serves as the remunerated president of a foundation. However, the articles of incorporation of the foundation state that "the corporation shall not receive, utilize or expend any funds directed to or under the control of the Florida Fine Arts Council." Further, the foundation and the Fine Arts Council have a common purpose -- the furthering of the arts and cultural endeavors in Florida. There appear to be no activities of the foundation which would be "subject to the regulation of" the Fine Arts Council. Likewise, it is apparent that the foundation is not "doing business" with the council, nor does Mr. Pas's serving as president "create a conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties." Section 112.313(5), F. S.
We find nothing in the applicable laws that would prohibit the director from serving as president of the foundation and receiving compensation therefor. As the foundation is not a "business entity subject to the regulation of or doing business with" the Fine Arts Council and the director would be working toward the same ends in carrying out his public and private duties, we can find no conflict of interest under s. 112.313(5), supra.