CEO 76-210 -- December 16, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
PORT COMMISSIONER EMPLOYED AS BUSINESS REPRESENTATIVE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
A public officer is prohibited from holding employment with an agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, the agency of which he is an officer. Section 112.313(7), F. S. 1975. This provision is not violated, however, where a commissioner of a port authority accepts employment with Bureau of International Development, Division of Economic Development of the Department of Commerce, as neither the bureau, division, nor department in any manner regulates the port authority. Although employment with the bureau will require travel, it is not anticipated at this time that such travel will interfere with the full and faithful discharge of the individual's duties as a port commissioner, pursuant to the second clause of the above-cited s. 112.313(7).
Would a prohibited conflict of interest exist were a port commissioner of a port authority to be employed as a business representative by the Department of Commerce, Division of Economic Development?
Your question is answered in the negative.
You have stated in your request that ____ is an elected member and chairman of the Port Commission of the ____, a public corporation charged with the responsibility for the operation of the port. The authority is a special taxing district whose functions, powers, and authority, as set forth in Ch. 59-1157, Laws of Florida, as amended, relate only to the operation, maintenance, construction and development of the facilities at the port. The subject port commissioner is interested in becoming an employee of the Department of Commerce as a business representative in their Division of Economic Development, Bureau of International Development. The bureau promotes Florida economic development by persuading foreign businesses to make investments in Florida and by matching overseas concerns with exporting Florida businesses.
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. [Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S. 1975.]
This provision prohibits a public officer from being employed by an agency which is subject to the regulation of or is doing business with the agency of which he is an officer. The port commissioner's agency, as defined by s. 112.312(2), F. S. (1976 Supp.), is the port authority. The subject port commissioner wishes to be employed by another agency, the Bureau of International Development. We previously have determined that a public agency cannot be considered to be doing business with another public agency for purposes of the Code of Ethics. See CEO 76-2. The Department of Commerce has informed our staff that the department neither regulates nor is regulated by the authority. Consequently, the first clause of the above-quoted provision does not apply to the instant case.
The Bureau of International Development has informed us that this position may require some travel, perhaps even out of the country. We do not find that this necessarily will impede the full and faithful discharge of the port commissioner's duties, which require him to prepare for and attend the twice-monthly meetings of the port commission. We do not say that such travel could not be so frequent as to interfere with the port commissioner's duties, but we do not anticipate at this time that he would not be able to successfully fulfill the responsibilities of his public office because of the travel requirements of his public employment. Nor do we feel that his interests in promoting international commerce with Florida businesses as a business representative would create a frequently recurring conflict with his duties as a port commissioner.
Accordingly, we find no prohibited conflict of interest were the subject port commissioner to accept employment as a business representative with the Bureau of International Development of the Department of Commerce.