CEO 75-175 -- August 26, 1975
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
MAYOR IN BUSINESS WITH ONE WHO IS ALSO A PRINCIPAL OF FIRM DOING BUSINESS WITH THE CITY
To: Richard E. Singer, Mayor, Lauderdale Lakes
Prepared by: Gene Rhodes
No conflict prohibited by the Code of Ethics exists where a mayor enters into private business with an individual who is a principal of a marketing services firm retained by the city. The business entered into jointly by the mayor and the principal does no business with the city of which the petitioner is mayor. Reference is made to CEO 74-50 in which a similar situation is addressed in greater detail. Since the mayor votes only in the event of a tie, there is minimal likelihood of a voting conflict of interest resulting from the business venture. Should the mayor be faced with a vote relating to the principal's firm, however, he should be aware of his responsibilities under s. 112.314(2), F. S. (1974 Supp.), relating to voting conflicts of interest.
Does a conflict of interest exist where I, as Mayor of the City of Lauderdale Lakes, am in business with a person who is also a principal of a firm doing business with the city?
Your question is answered in the negative.
Your letter of inquiry advises us that the City of Lauderdale Lakes retains the services of Marketing Services Corporation (MSC) as an outside consultant on a fee basis. Ten months after this agreement was entered into, a principal of MSC, Mr. Jack Cory, and you entered into a separate corporation, Executive Publications, Inc. Executive Publications is involved in printing and distributing television guides in market areas throughout Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. The City of Lauderdale Lakes does not advertise in the publication and will not be asked to do so. We also understand that you have a vote on the City Commission only in the event of a tie.
There is nothing in the Code of Ethics that would prohibit your business relationship with Mr. Cory inasmuch as the business in which the two of you are engaged does not do business with the city of which you are mayor. We are enclosing a previous opinion of this commission, CEO 74-50, in which we address in greater detail a situation similar to the one you describe.
It is unlikely that you would be voting on a matter concerning MSC since you vote only to break a tie. If you do find yourself in a position to vote on such an issue and feel that doing so would create a conflict between your private interests and your public duties, then you should be aware of the code's provision regarding voting conflicts.
No public officer shall be prohibited from voting on any matter in his official capacity. However, when the matter being considered directly or indirectly inures to the public officer's particular private gain, as opposed to his private gain as a member of a special class or creates a conflict between such officer's private interests and his public duties he may abstain from voting on the matter and shall file a statement explaining the conflict with the appropriate officials. [Section 112.314(2), F. S. (1974 Supp.).]
Thus, you would never be prohibited from voting; but if you feel that a conflict exists, you are required to file a statement explaining the conflict.