CEO 77-116 -- July 21, 1977
HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCACY COMMITTEE
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBERS
To: Leo Plotkin, Human Rights Advocacy Committee, Miami
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
Among the duties of the Statewide Human Rights Advocacy Committee are the responsibility to serve as a third-party mechanism for protecting the constitutional and human rights of any client of HRS; of receiving, investigating, and resolving reports of abuse or deprivation of constitutional and human rights referred by a district committee; and of developing policies and procedures for the disposition of such complaints. These duties are not solely advisory but involve investigation and adjudication of rights. Accordingly, the committee does not meet the definition of "advisory body" contained in s. 112.312(1), F. S. 1975, and members of the committee therefore constitute "state officers" subject to the annual filing of a statement of financial interests. See s. 112.3145(1)(c)2., (2)(b), and (3).
Am I, as a member of the Statewide Human Rights Advocacy Committee, a state officer subject to the annual filing of financial disclosure?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees, as contained in part III, Ch. 112, F. S., provides that state officers, local officers, and specified employees are subject to the annual filing of a statement of financial interests. Section 112.3145(2)(b). Section 112.3145(1)(a)2. defines the term "state officer" to include "[a]n appointed member of each board, commission, authority, or council having statewide jurisdiction, excluding a member of an advisory body." Further, the term "advisory body" is defined to mean
any board, commission, committee, council, or authority, however selected, whose total budget, appropriations, or authorized expenditures constitute less than 1 percent of the budget of each agency it serves or $100,000, whichever is less, and whose powers, jurisdiction, and authority are solely advisory and do not include the final determination or adjudication or any personal or property rights, duties, or obligations, other than those relating to its internal operations. [Section 112.312(1), F. S. (1976 Supp.).]
The statewide Human Rights Advocacy Committee, created by s. 20.19, F. S., is a body within the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services consisting of eight citizens, appointed by the Governor, who represent the interests of the public and the clients of the department. The committee's responsibilities, as set forth in s. 20.19(6)(e), are as follows:
1. Serving as a third-party mechanism for protecting the constitutional and human rights of any client within a program or facility operated, funded, or regulated by the department.
2. Receiving, investigating, and resolving reports of abuse or deprivation of constitutional and human rights referred to the Human Rights Advocacy Committee by a district human rights advocacy committee.
3. Prior to implementation, reviewing and making recommendation with respect to the involvement of departmental clients as subjects for research projects insofar as their human rights may be affected.
4. Reviewing existing programs or services and new or revised programs of the department and making recommendations as to how the rights of clients are affected.
5. Submitting an annual report to the Legislature no later than November 30 of each calendar year concerning activities, recommendations, and complaints reviewed or developed by the committee during the year.
6. Conducting meetings at least six times a year at the call of the chairman and at other times at the call of the Governor or by written request of four members of the committee.
7. Developing policies and procedures to carry out the purposes of this subsection, including procedures for appeal. An appeal to the state committee is made by a district human rights advocacy committee when a valid complaint is not resolved at the district level. The statewide committee may appeal an unresolved complaint to the secretary. If, after exhausting all remedies, the statewide committee is not satisfied that the complaint can be resolved within the department, the appeal may be referred to the Governor.
The duties contained in numbers 1, 2, and 7 above are not solely advisory but involve investigation and adjudication of rights. Accordingly, the Human Rights Advocacy Committee does not meet the definition of an advisory body for purposes of financial disclosure. As a member of the committee, you therefore are required by law to file annually a statement of financial interests.