CEO 78-13 -- February 16, 1978
VOTING CONFLICT OF INTEREST
COUNTY COMMISSIONER VOTING ON MINING PERMIT REQUEST OF COMPANY PURCHASING MINERAL INTERESTS FROM HIS DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
A voting conflict of interest requiring disclosure exists where a public officer votes in his official capacity upon a measure in which he has a personal, private, or professional interest which inures to his special private gain or the special gain of any principal by whom he is retained. Section 112.3143, F. S. 1975. This provision is not applicable, however, to a county commissioner voting on a mining permit request of a company which is purchasing mineral interests from the commissioner's daughter-in-law and her family. While the commissioner might be said to have a personal interest in the matter, it is clear that the measure would not inure to his special private gain, and his relationship to his daughter-in-law is not that of agent to principal. Accordingly, should the commissioner vote upon the mining permit application, no voting conflict of interest requiring disclosure would be created.
Would a voting conflict of interest exist were a county commissioner to vote on a mining permit application of a company which is purchasing mineral interests owned by his daughter-in-law where the sale is contingent upon the granting of the mining permit?
This question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of request you advise that ____ is a member of the ____ County Board of County Commissioners and that his daughter-in- law and her family own certain mineral interests which are being sold to a chemical company. You also advise that one condition to the sale is that a mining permit be obtained by the purchaser. This permit must be approved by the board of county commissioners, among other agencies. In addition, you advise that the subject commission member has no personal interest in the property being sold or in the transaction between his daughter-in-law's family and the chemical company.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
Voting conflicts. -- 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. [Section 112.3143, F. S. 1975.]
While the subject commissioner might be said to have a personal interest in the measure before the commission, the application for a mining permit, it is clear that the measure would not inure to his special private gain. Nor can we say that his relationship to his daughter-in-law is that of agent to principal.
Accordingly, should the subject commission member vote upon the company's application for a mining permit, he would not have a voting conflict of interest under the above-quoted provision, and he would not be required to file any disclosure pursuant to that provision. In addition, we are of the opinion that the subject commission member may abstain from voting upon the company's application because of the appearance of a conflict under s. 286.012, F. S. 1975, as explained in CEO 77-62, a copy of which is enclosed.