CEO 76-182 -- October 25, 1976
VOTING CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY COUNCILMAN VOTING TO TAKE SPOUSE TO CONVENTION AT PUBLIC EXPENSE
To: Jack Block, Mayor, South Miami
As Florida Statute s. 112.3143(1975) provides that no public officer may be prohibited from voting in his official capacity on any matter, no prohibited conflict of interest is created where a city councilman votes on whether the city may spend public funds to enable him to take his spouse to a convention. That provision further states, however, that a public officer who votes upon a measure in which he has a personal, private, or professional interest which inures to his private gain or to that of a principal by whom he is retained is required to file a memorandum of voting conflict. As a vote to authorize expenditure of public funds to pay a spouse's travel expenses is one in which the voting officer has a private interest which inures to his gain, he must file said memorandum should he choose to vote on the matter.
It is further noted that the Ethics Commission lacks jurisdiction to advise as to the possible applicability of Florida Statute s. 112.061 to the provisions of the municipal ordinance allowing the expenditure of public funds for travel expenses of an officer's spouse.
1. May I, as a voting member of the city council, vote on whether the city may spend public funds to enable me to take my spouse to a convention?
2. Would the situation described in question 1 above constitute a voting conflict of interest requiring disclosure?
Question 1 is answered in the affirmative.
Your letter of inquiry advises us that you wish to vote on whether your spouse may accompany you to a convention at public expense. Your city previously has adopted a resolution which you interpret as requiring the consent of the city council for expenditure of public funds on your spouse's travel expenses.
Please find enclosed a copy of a previous opinion of this commission, CEO 76-62, the response to question 1 of which is equally applicable to your inquiry.
Question 2 is answered in the affirmative.
Relative to voting conflicts, the Code of Ethics provides as follows:
No public officer shall be prohibited from voting in his official capacity on any matter. However, any public officer voting in his official capacity upon any measure in which he has a personal, private, or professional interest and which inures to his special private gain or the special gain of any principal by whom he is retained shall, within 15 days after the vote occurs, disclose the nature of his interest as a public record in a memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting, who shall incorporate the memorandum in the minutes. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.3143(1975).]
A vote to authorize expenditure of public funds to pay your spouse's travel expenses is one in which you have a private interest which inures to your private gain. Therefore, should you elect to vote on the question, you would be required to file a Memorandum of Voting Conflict, CE Form 4, a copy of which is enclosed, with the person recording the minutes of the meeting at which the vote occurred. Should you choose to abstain from voting, no disclosure is required.
This commission lacks jurisdiction to advise you as to the possible applicability of Florida Statute s. 112.061 to the provisions of the subject ordinance.