CEO 76-170 -- September 13, 1976
QUARTERLY CLIENT DISCLOSURE
REPRESENTATIONS REPORTABLE ON CE FORM 2
To: Warren C. Hendry, Jr., Architect, Jacksonville
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
Pursuant to Florida Statute s. 112.3145(4)(1975), a local officer is required to report on a quarterly basis the names of all clients of whom he has actual knowledge who were represented, either by himself or by a partner or associate of his professional firm, before agencies at his level of government. One's level of government has previously been interpreted to refer to the political subdivision within which one serves. Although the space provided for disclosure on CE Form 2 suggests in the language of its column headings that appearances before agencies must be matched to clients represented, the law itself mandates no such correlation. Therefore, the reporting requirements would be satisfied in one's disclosing a complete list of clients as well as a list of all agencies before which representations could have been made during the disclosure period.
Would the mandate of Florida Statute s. 112.3145(4)(1975) be satisfied by a local officer's disclosing on CE Form 2, the quarterly client disclosure, a complete list of clients represented by the officer's firm during a given quarter and a list of all local government agencies before which representations could have been made?
This question is answered in the affirmative.
You inform us in your letter of inquiry that the mayor of your municipality recently appointed you to the city's construction trades qualifying board. Privately, you serve as vice president of an architectural corporation whose staff members have frequent contact on behalf of clients with virtually all agencies of local government. You therefore feel that it would be unreasonable, if not impossible, for you to certify on CE Form 2, the Quarterly Client Disclosure, a complete listing of all instances when local government agencies were contacted on behalf of a client during any particular reporting period. Accordingly, you wish to know if a listing of all clients and all local government agencies potentially contacted during a disclosure period would be responsive to the reporting requirements of CE Form 2.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
Each state officer, local officer, and specified employee shall file a quarterly report of the names of clients represented for a fee or commission, except for appearances in ministerial matters, before agencies at his level of government. For the purpose of this part, agencies of government shall be classified as state level agencies or agencies below state level. The report shall be filed only when a reportable representation is made during the calendar quarter and shall be filed no later than 15 days after the last day of the quarter. Representation before any agency shall be deemed to include representation by such officer or specified employee or by any partner or associate of the professional firm of which he is a member and of which he has actual knowledge. For the purposes of this subsection, "representation before any agency" shall not include appearances before any court or judges or commissioners of industrial claims or representations on behalf of one's agency in his official capacity. Such term shall not include the preparation and filing of forms and applications merely for the purpose of obtaining or transferring a license based on a quota or a franchise of such agency or a license or operation permit to engage in a profession, business, or occupation, so long as the issuance or granting of such license, [permit, or transfer does not require substantial discretion] a variance, a special consideration, or a certificate of public convenience and necessity. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(4)(1975).]
Accordingly, a local officer is required to report on a quarterly basis the names of all clients represented, either by himself or by a partner or associate of his professional firm, before agencies at his level of government. In a previous opinion of this commission, CEO 74-89A, we interpreted a local officer's level of government to be the political subdivision within which he serves. You therefore are required to disclose on Form 2 only those representations before agencies of the city.
Although the space provided for disclosure on CE Form 2 suggests, in the language of its column headings, that appearances before agencies must be matched to clients represented, a careful reading of s. 112.3145(4) reveals that no such correlation is mandated. We therefore read the provision to require the reporting on Form 2 of the names of clients represented and the names of agencies before which representations were made.
Turning to your particular situation, we note that s. 112.3145(4) specifies that the reporting person is responsible for disclosing his own representations and those by partners or associates of his professional firm "of which he has actual knowledge." It is our opinion that the reporting person therefore has an affirmative duty to see that he is informed of all representations required to be disclosed. Such duty would not be fulfilled by mere guessing, or by listing those agencies which "probably" were contacted, as you suggest at one point in your letter of inquiry. At another point, however, you employ the phrase "agencies for which we could have contact during [the] reported period." The disclosure of all agencies potentially contacted would, in our view, fulfill the disclosure requirement, provided that you exercise reasonable care in seeing that you receive knowledge of all firm activities which may prove to be subject to disclosure.
Accordingly, we deem the reporting requirements of s. 112.3145(4) to be satisfied in your disclosing a complete list of clients as well as a list of all municipal agencies before which representations could have been made during the disclosure period.