CEO 75-161 -- August 6, 1975
HUMAN RELATIONS ADVISORY BOARD
APPLICABILITY OF DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBERS
To: A. Bice Hope, City Attorney, Gainesville
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
A municipal Human Relations Advisory Board which exercises the power to initiate complaints as well as to receive, investigate, hold hearings, issue remedial and affirmative orders, and institute legal proceedings on complaints, is not deemed to be an advisory body. Its members, therefore, do not meet the advisory board exclusion of s. 112.312(7)(b), F. S. (1974 Supp.). Rather, they are deemed to be public officers for purposes of disclosure under the Code of Ethics.
Are members of the City of Gainesville Human Relations Advisory Board public officers within the meaning of that term as found in part III, Ch. 112, F. S. (1974 Supp.), and therefore subject to those provisions of the Code of Ethics applicable to public officers?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
As you point out in your letter of inquiry, s. 10B-5 of City Ordinance 2039, adopted May 12, 1975, significantly expanded the duties and authority of the Human Relations Advisory Board. Of particular importance is the power of the board to initiate complaints as well as to receive, investigate, hold hearings, issue remedial and affirmative orders, and institute legal proceedings on complaints.
The statutory definition of the term "public officer" includes among others "[m]embers of boards . . . however selected but excluding advisory board members." Section 112.312(7)(b). As we have held in numerous advisory opinions, only where a board functions in a solely advisory capacity are its members exempt from "public officers" designation. It is clear, however, that the powers of the Gainesville Human Relations Advisory Board go far beyond the mere advisory. It is therefore our opinion that members of the board are public officers pursuant to part III, Ch. 112, supra, and thus are subject to those provisions of the Code of Ethics applicable to public officers.