CEO 76-166 -- September 13, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
EMPLOYEES OF PROPERTY APPRAISER TEACHING REAL ESTATE COURSES
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Roger Merriam
A public employee is prohibited from holding employment or a contractual relationship with any business entity or agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, his public agency. Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(7)(a)(1975). As a property appraiser does not regulate real estate licenses or the administration of examinations to obtain such licenses, no conflict of interest would be created where employees of the property appraiser teach classes preparing students to obtain licenses for the teaching of real estate courses. Nor would a conflict of interest be created were the employees to be part owners in a school devoted to the teaching of real estate courses, as no business would be transacted with the property appraiser's office in violation of s. 112.313(3).
1. Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where an employee in a property appraiser's office teaches real estate courses or desires to obtain such a license to allow him to teach such courses?
2. Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where employees of the property appraiser's office are part owners of a school which teaches real estate courses?
Question 1 is answered in the negative.
You state in your letter of inquiry that an employee in your office holds a state license which enables him to teach real estate courses required to obtain a real estate salesman's or broker's license and that another employee wishes to take the examination to obtain such a license.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
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); emphasis supplied.]
The emphasized portion of the above prohibits a public employee from having employment with any business entity which is regulated by his agency. As your office does not regulate the issuance of real estate licenses or the administration of examinations required to obtain them, no prohibited conflict of interest exists under the italicized language above.
Assuming that teaching which may be practiced by the subject employees will be during off-duty hours, we perceive no recurring conflict with the discharge of their public duties.
Question 2 is answered in the negative.
Your letter of inquiry states that employees in your office own an unspecified interest in a school which teaches real estate courses. Florida Statute s. 112.313(7)(a), quoted in question 1 above, is not applicable, inasmuch as a real estate school is not regulated by your office and presents no continuing or frequently recurring conflict between such employee's private interests and public duties.
The Code of Ethics further provides as follows:
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 or sell 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).]
The above-quoted provision prohibits a public employee from acting in his official capacity as a purchasing agent to purchase services for his public agency from any business entity in which he owns a material interest and from acting privately to sell to his public agency. Inasmuch as the school does not do business with the property appraiser's office, no conflict of interest under this section is created by the situation you describe.
Accordingly, no conflict of interest is deemed to be created where employees of the property appraiser's office hold licenses to teach real estate courses or are part owners in a school which teaches such courses.