CEO 77-6 -- February 1, 1977
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
STATE LEGISLATOR CONSULTANT TO BUSINESS ENTITY PERFORMING WORK FOR AGENCIES OF GOVERNMENT
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S. 1975, prohibits a public officer from holding employment or a contractual relationship with any business entity or agency subject to the regulation of his public agency. However, subparagraph 2. of that statute provides an exemption when the officer's agency is a legislative body whose regulatory authority over the business entity is strictly through the enactment of laws or ordinances. Accordingly, no prohibited conflict is created in a state legislator's serving as a consultant to a family- owned business which does business with government agencies, so long as the business does not transact with the Florida Legislature, the legislator's agency, in violation of s. 112.313(3).
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a business entity which I, a state legislator, serve as consultant to do business with governmental entities within the state?
Your question is answered in the negative.
You inform us in your letter of inquiry that prior to your election to the State Legislature you served as a corporate officer and member of the Board of Directors of ____, general contractors and a family-held corporation in which your father controls all of the stock. Your further advise that upon taking office as a state representative, you resigned both positions with the corporation and presently hold the title of "consultant" to the business. In such capacity you retain the use of a corporation-owned car as well as medical and life insurance coverage written through the corporation's group policy. Your duties as consultant will be to act for the corporation president, your father, only in the event of his serious illness or extended absence from the business. You have further advised our staff that you will be compensated at the rate of $100 per week while being employed as a consultant to the corporation.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part as follows:
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP. --(a) 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.]
A public officer accordingly is prohibited from holding employment or having a contractual relationship with any agency subject to the regulation of his public agency. As the Florida Legislature regulates all governmental entities within the state, your situation would appear to be precluded by the above-quoted provision of the law. However, s. 112.313(7)(a) further provides as follows:
2. When the agency referred to is a legislative body and the regulatory power over the business entity resides in another agency, or when the regulatory power which the legislative body exercises over the business entity or agency is strictly through the enactment of laws or ordinances, then employment or a contractual relationship with such business entity by a public officer or employee of a legislative body shall not be prohibited by this subsection or be deemed a conflict.
As the Florida Legislature clearly is a legislative body whose regulatory authority over other agencies of government is strictly through the enactment of laws or ordinances, the situation about which you inquire falls squarely within this exemption. Accordingly, no prohibited conflict of interest is constituted in your serving as consultant to a family-owned corporation which does business with governmental agencies.
We would point out, however, that should you, during your tenure as a state representative, resume your duties as an officer or director of the corporation, that corporation would be precluded from transacting business with the Legislature, your agency, pursuant to the mandate of s. 112.313(3), F. S. 1975.