CEO 76-54 -- March 16, 1976
CIRCUIT COURT CLERK
APPLICABILITY OF THE FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW
To: D. O. Oxley, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Nassau County, Fernandina Beach
The Code of Ethics stipulates that local "agency heads" shall provide disclosure forms and a notice of filing deadlines to each local officer who filed disclosure the preceding year. The "agency head," however, is not deemed to be the circuit court clerk but, rather, the person or collegial body within a political subdivision who is responsible for final action in that political subdivision.
An employee in the circuit court clerk's office who is authorized to sign purchase orders is not a "specified employee" for purposes of disclosure. Purchasing agents within political subdivisions of the state must look to Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(1)(a)3.(1975) which defines as a "local officer" any person "having the authority to make any purchase exceeding $100 for any political subdivision of the state or any entity thereof."
Where the circuit court clerk filed a statement of financial disclosure early in 1976, he is not required to file an additional statement of disclosure as a candidate in July of the same year. See Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(6)(1975).
1. Am I, as Clerk of the Circuit Court in Nassau County, required by the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees to send by certified mail a copy of the financial disclosure forms and notice of the filing deadline to each person who filed disclosure with my office in 1975?
2. Is Ms. June Peters, a deputy clerk in my office, a "specified employee" pursuant to Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(1)(b)5.(1975) due to her authorization to sign purchase orders for the clerk's office?
3. Were I to file a statement of financial disclosure as clerk of the circuit court early in 1976, am I required to file an additional disclosure statement as a candidate in July of this year?
Question 1 is answered in the negative.
The Code of Ethics provides in relevant part:
The Secretary of State shall by certified mail, return receipt requested, send a copy of the forms required to be filed by this part and by s. 111.011, together with a notice of the filing deadlines, to each state officer and specified employee no later than 30 days prior to the annual or semiannual disclosure deadlines. The agency head shall send said forms and notice to each local officer no later than 30 days prior to the annual or semiannual disclosure deadlines. However, the requirements of this subsection shall not apply to candidates or to the first filing required of any state officer, specified employee, or local officer. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(5)(1975).]
The above-quoted section provides that all persons who have previously filed statements of financial disclosure will be provided, by certified mail, disclosure forms and a notice of the filing deadlines. While the Secretary of State is responsible for such mailings to state officers and employees, the responsibility to provide such forms and notice to local officers is assigned to the "agency head."
The Code of Ethics defines the term "agency" to mean
. . . any state, regional, county, local, or municipal government entity of this state, whether executive, judicial, or legislative; any department, division, bureau, commission, authority, or political subdivision of this state therein; or any public school, community college, or state university. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.312(2)(1975).]
For purposes of the requirement to provide forms and notice pursuant to s. 112.3145(5) above, the "agency head" is deemed to be the person or collegial body within a political subdivision who is responsible for final action in that political subdivision. For example, a city commission or city council constitutes the agency head of a municipality; the county commission of a county; the school board of a school district; the board of trustees of a community college; etc.
Question 2 is answered in the negative.
Florida Statute s. 112.3145 sets forth financial disclosure requirements for three distinct groups of public officials. Subsection (1)(a) of this provision enumerates those persons deemed to be "local officers" for purposes of financial disclosure and disclosure of clients represented before agencies, while subsection (1)(b) lists "specified employees" and subsection (1)(c) "state officers" subject to such disclosure.
An employee within a political subdivision who exercises purchasing agent authority must look to s. 112.3145(1)(a)3., which specifies that "a purchasing agent having the authority to make any purchase exceeding $100 for any political subdivision of the state or any entity thereof" is a local officer subject to disclosure. The provision contained in s. 112.3145(1)(b)5., that "purchasing agents" constitute specified employees subject to disclosure, applies strictly to such employees at the state level of government.
Question 3 is answered in the negative.
Florida Statute s. 112.3145(2)(a)(1975) provides that
[a] person seeking nomination or election to a state or local elective office shall file a statement of financial interests together with, and at the same time he files, his qualifying papers.
Contradictorily, s. 112.3145(2)(c) provides that "[l]ocal officers and persons seeking to qualify as candidates for local office shall file their statements of financial interests with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the county in which they are principally employed or are residents." However, s. 112.3145(6) further stipulates:
A public officer who has filed a disclosure for any calendar or fiscal year shall not be required to file a second disclosure for the same year or any part thereof notwithstanding any requirement of this act.
Therefore, where you have filed in 1976 in your capacity as circuit court clerk, you are not required to file again as a candidate during that same year inasmuch as both filings would be for the same year, 1975, pursuant to Fla. Stat. s. 112.312(8)(1975), assuming that the disclosure period is the preceding calendar year.