CEO 77-124 -- August 24, 1977
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
MANAGER OF TOLL BRIDGE FACILITY ALSO OWNER OF COMPANY HOLDING COUNTY FRANCHISE TO COLLECT SOLID WASTES
To: Norman Parker, Manager, Card Sound Road and Toll Bridge Facility, Islamorada
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Section 112.313(3), F. S. 1975, prohibits a public employee from acting in his private capacity to sell services to his public agency. A public employee also is prohibited by s. 112.313(7)(a) from having a contractual relationship with a business entity which does business with his agency. However, one who serves as manager of a road and toll bridge facility is not prohibited from serving as an officer of and owning a material interest in a family-owned corporation which holds a franchise from the county to conduct solid waste collection in a county district, inasmuch as the employee's agency, pursuant to the definition of that term contained in s. 112.312(2), is the special road and bridge district rather than the county within which the district is located.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where I, the manager of a toll bridge facility, am an owner and officer of a company which holds a franchise granted by the county commission to collect solid wastes in a portion of the county?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you have stated that you were employed by the Monroe County Commission as manager of the Card Sound Road and Toll Bridge Facility in 1969 and that you presently serve in that capacity. You have advised, and the county attorney has confirmed in a telephone conversation with our staff, that the Card Sound Bridge is operated by a special road and bridge district which has been established by special law and which is governed by the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners. In addition, you advise that you are an officer of and own more than 5 percent of a family-owned corporation which holds a franchise from the county to conduct solid waste collection in one of five districts comprising the unincorporated area of the county. The present franchise agreement, effective for 10 years until 1979, allows the corporation to collect wastes from private persons within the district at rates set by the county as well as to make one pickup from a county-owned facility. You have stated also that in your capacity as bridge facility manager, you have never directly or indirectly purchased, rented, or leased any realty, goods, or services from the corporation; nor has the corporation ever done any business with the bridge district.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
DOING BUSINESS WITH ONE'S AGENCY. -- No employee of an agency acting in his official capacity as a purchasing agent, or public officer acting in his official capacity, shall either directly or indirectly purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for his own agency from any business entity of which he or his spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or his spouse or child, or any combination of them, has a material interest. Nor shall a public officer or employee, acting in a private capacity, rent, lease, or sell any realty, goods, or services to his own agency, if he is a state officer or employee, or to any political subdivision or any agency thereof, if he is serving as an officer or employee of that political subdivision. [Section 112.313(3), F. S. 1975.]
The applicability of this provision turns on the identity of the agency which employs you as manager of the bridge facility. The term "agency" is defined to include "any . . . political subdivision of this state . . . ." Section 112.312(2), F. S. 1975. As "political subdivision" is defined to include "special road and bridge districts, bridge districts and all other districts in this state" [s. 1.01(9), F. S. 1975], your agency is the special road and bridge district. Therefore, it is clear that the above-quoted provision does not apply in this situation, since neither you nor the corporation is doing business with the bridge district.
The Code of Ethics also provides:
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.]
The first part of this provision, which prohibits a public employee from having a contractual relationship with a business entity which is doing business with his agency, does not apply because the corporation does not do business with the bridge district. Nor do we perceive that your relationship with the corporation would create a frequently recurring conflict or would impede the full and faithful discharge of your public duties.
Accordingly, we find that the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees does not prohibit you from serving as manager of a toll bridge facility while being an owner and officer of a company which holds a franchise granted by the county commission to collect solid wastes in a portion of the county.