CEO 75-214 -- December 15, 1975
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER PROVIDING EMERGENCY DENTAL TREATMENT TO STUDENTS IN DISTRICT
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
A violation of s. 112.313(3), F. S. 1975, is constituted where a member of a school board provides emergency dental treatment to school children on a fee- for-service basis paid for by the school board. The dental practice of which he is a professional associate is a "business entity" within the meaning of s. 112.312(2), and the board member is therefore prohibited from acting in his official capacity to purchase services from his own business and is prohibited from acting in his private capacity to sell services to his own agency.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where I, a member of a county school board, provide emergency dental treatment to school children on a fee-for-service basis paid for by the school board on which I serve?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
You inform us in your letter of inquiry that, prior to your becoming a member of the school board in July of this year, you had been providing emergency dental treatment to indigent school children since the inception of the health services program of the school system. Pursuant to this program, participating dentists are paid on a fee-for-service basis by the school board. You further advise us that during the past several years you have treated an increasing number of students due to the convenient location of your dental office and because fewer dentists accept emergency cases.
The relevant section of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides:
DOING BUSINESS WITH ONE'S AGENCY. -- No employee of an agency acting in his official capacity as a purchasing agent or public officer acting in his official capacity shall either directly or indirectly for his own agency purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services from any business entity of which he, his spouse, or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor, or in which such officer or employee, his spouse or child, or any combination of them, has a material interest. Nor shall a public officer or employee, acting in a private capacity, rent, lease, or sell any realty, goods, or services to his own agency if he is a state officer or employee, or, if he is serving as an officer or employee of any political subdivision, to that subdivision or to any agency thereof. The foregoing shall not apply to district offices maintained by legislators when such offices are located in the legislator's place of business. This subsection shall not affect nor be construed to prohibit contracts entered into prior to:
(a) The effective date of this act;
(b) Qualifications for elective office;
(c) Appointment to public office;
(d) Beginning public employment
[Section 112.313(3), as amended by Ch. 75-208, Laws of Florida.]
The situation about which you inquire falls squarely within the above-quoted prohibition. As a member of a school board, you are a public officer pursuant to s. 112.312(7)(i), F. S. (1974 Supp.). The dental practice of which you are a professional associate is a "business entity" within the definition of that term as found in s. 112.312(2), F. S. (1974 Supp.). Accordingly, as a member of the school board you are acting in your official capacity to purchase services from your private business, and in a private capacity you are selling services to the agency of which you are an officer. We therefore deem your being paid by the school board for dental services provided school children to be prohibited by the Code of Ethics so long as you remain a member of the school board.