CEO 76-98 -- May 17, 1976
NURSING HOME OMBUDSMAN COMMITTEE
APPLICABILITY OF CODE OF ETHICS TO MEMBERS
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Gene Rhodes
The duties of a regional nursing home ombudsman committee include discovering, investigating, and determining the existence of abuse and neglect in any nursing home facility and eliciting, receiving, and responding to and resolving complaints made by or on behalf of nursing home residents. Fla. Stat. s. 400.307(2)(b) and (c)(1975). As such duties are not solely advisory in nature, district nursing home ombudsman committees do not come within the definition of "advisory body" as contained in s. 112.312(1)(1975). Therefore, such committees do not fall within the exemption provided for advisory bodies under the definition of "local officer" for purposes of the Code of Ethics. Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(1)(a)2.(1975). Members of these district committees therefore are deemed to be local officers subject to financial disclosure.
Am I, as an appointed member of the District 2 Nursing Home Ombudsman Committee, required to file a statement of financial disclosure?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
The duties of the regional nursing home ombudsman committee include discovering, investigating, and determining the existence of abuse and neglect in any nursing home facility and eliciting, receiving, and responding to and resolving complaints made by, or on behalf of, nursing home residents. Fla. Stat. s. 400.307(2)(b) and (c)(1975).
The Code of Ethics requires that each local officer annually file a statement of financial disclosure. Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(2)(b)(1975). The term "local officer" is defined to include:
Any appointed member of a board, commission, authority, community college district board of trustees, or council of any political subdivision of the state, excluding any member of an advisory body. A governmental body with land-planning, zoning, or natural resources responsibilities shall not be considered an advisory body. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(1)(a)2.(1975).]
The Florida Statutes define a political subdivision to include all districts in the state. Accordingly, the members of the regional nursing home ombudsman committees are local officers unless those committees can be said to be advisory bodies. The term "advisory body" is defined to mean
any board, commission, committee, council, or authority, however selected, whose total budget, appropriations, or authorized expenditures constitute less than 1 percent of the budget of each agency it serves or $100,000, whichever is less, and whose powers, jurisdiction, and authority are solely advisory and do not include the final determination or adjudication of any personal or property rights, duties, or obligations, other than those relating to its internal operations. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.312(1)(1975).]
As you can see from the above-quoted provision, an advisory body must be solely advisory, and its duties cannot include the final determination or adjudication of any personal or property rights.
We have previously found that an agency is solely advisory where it renders advice to an officer or agency, which officer or agency then has complete discretion to accept or reject the advice or recommendation presented by the advisory body. See CEO 74-4. It is evident from the above-described duties that the nursing home ombudsman committees are not solely advisory.
Moreover, the regional nursing home ombudsman committees' duties include final determination of personal rights. This also excludes them from the definition of advisory bodies. Consequently, you are required to annually file a statement of financial disclosure.