CEO 76-147 -- September 13, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY EMPLOYEE LEASING PROPERTY FROM THE CITY
To: John Phillips, Jr., City Manager, Zephyrhills
Prepared by: Gene Rhodes
Although Florida Statute s. 112.313(3)(1975) prohibits a public employee from acting privately to lease realty to his agency or to any agency within his political subdivision, it does not preclude that subdivision from leasing realty to the employee. A public employee is further prohibited from having a contractual relationship with an agency subject to the regulation of his public agency. Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(7)(1975). This provision similarly is inapplicable as the city commission, with whom the employee has the lease, is not regulated by the public works department, the employee's agency. Accordingly, no prohibited conflict of interest is created where a municipal employee leases property from the city.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where an employee in a city's public works department leases property from the city?
Your question is answered in the negative.
You have advised our staff that Mr. I. B. Jones is a full-time city employee with the public works department. Under a lease executed in May of 1962, he has leased certain city property for the purpose of grazing his privately owned cattle. Mr. Jones does not pay rent, but rather is obligated to fence the property, maintain fire lanes, and keep the property mowed.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees states in relevant part:
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 purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for his own agency from any business entity of which he or his spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or 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 to any political subdivision or any agency thereof, if he is serving as an officer or employee of that political subdivision. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(3)(1975); emphasis supplied.]
The emphasized portion of the above-quoted provision prohibits a public employee from leasing realty to the political subdivision of which he is an employee. Obviously, this is not the case here as it is the city that is leasing realty to the employee.
Another provision of the code 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, excluding those organizations and their officers who, when acting in their official capacity, enter into or negotiate a collective bargaining contract with the state or any municipality, county, or other political subdivision of the state; 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).]
The above-quoted provision prohibits a public employee from having a contractual relationship with an agency which is subject to the regulation of his agency. We find this provision inapplicable in that the city commission, with whom the employee has the lease, is not regulated by the public works department, his public agency for purposes of the Code of Ethics. See Fla. Stat. s. 112.312(2)(1975).
Finding no other provision of the Code of Ethics relating to the transaction in question, it is our opinion that Mr. Jones is not prohibited from leasing realty from the city.