CEO 76-59 -- March 16, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER EMPLOYED AS COUNTY BUILDING INSPECTOR
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
Florida Statute s. 112.313(10)(1975) provides that a public employee may not hold office as a member of the governing board which is his employer while remaining an employee of such employer. This prohibition does not affect a county building inspector, who is employed by a board of county commissioners, from sitting on the district school board, however, inasmuch as the county commission and the school board are separate and distinct political subdivisions. As the school board exercises no authority over the county commission or its employees, neither is a violation of Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(7) constituted by the school board member's potential employment as county building inspector.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest under provisions of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees be created were I, a member of a district school board, to accept employment as county building inspector by appointment of the board of county commissioners of the same county in which the school district exists?
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees states in relevant part:
EMPLOYEES HOLDING OFFICE. -- (a) No employee of a state agency or of a county, municipality, special taxing district, or other political subdivision of the state shall hold office as a member of the governing board, council, commission, or authority, by whatever name known, which is his employer while, at the same time, continuing as an employee of such employer. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(10)(1975).]
The above-quoted provision prohibits a county employee from holding office as a member of the governing board which is his employer while at the same time retaining employment subject to the board. Because the district school board, existing under provisions of Fla. Stat. s. 230.01(1975), and the board of county commissioners, established by Fla. Stat. s. 124.01, are separate and distinct political subdivisions, however, the situation you describe would not be affected by this prohibition.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees further states:
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee . . . ; nor shall an officer or employee of an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties . . . . [Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(7)(a)(1975).]
Inasmuch as the school board does not regulate the board of county commissioners, by whom the county building inspector is employed, the situation you describe would not be prohibited by this provision either. In our view, employment as building inspector would not create a "continuing or frequently recurring conflict" with your public duties as a member of the school board.
We would point out, however, that a conflict of interest would exist if, in your capacity as county building inspector, you were called upon to approve any work which you might have done in a private capacity. We are enclosing a copy of a previous opinion in this regard, CEO 76-42, the last paragraph of which addresses this issue.