CEO 78-81 -- November 15, 1978
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY CHIEF OF POLICE ACCEPTING FEES FOR LECTURES AND CONSULTATIONS WITH PRIVATE BUSINESSES
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
A municipal chief of police, who formerly served as a federal agent with extensive experience relating to organized crime, is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from accepting compensation for lectures and consulting services to private businesses outside his municipality during his off-duty hours. Given the nature of the lectures, consultations, and organizations to be addressed, it does not appear that the compensation received would be given to influence the performance of his public duties in violation of s. 112.313(4), F. S. 1977. Also, as it is apparent that the police chief's expertise in the matters on which he will be lecturing and consulting is derived primarily from his former service with the federal government, no violation of s. 112.313(8) is indicated as there would be no use of privileged information.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were I, the chief of police of a municipality, to accept compensation for lectures and consulting services to private businesses which would be rendered during my off-duty hours?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and in a telephone conversation with our staff, you advise that you are the chief of police of the City of ____ and that recently you have been approached by a private security firm with the possibility of being hired as a consultant to the firm in order to present lectures and seminars to private businesses. In this situation you would lecture to organizations which would pay the security firm which, in turn, would compensate you for your efforts. You also advise that these lectures and seminars would cover such subjects as organized crime, the use of illegally obtained funds in legitimate businesses, the economics of crime, hostage situations, and kidnappings of business officials. In addition, you advise that you have lectured at area universities and conferences and for governmental bodies on the same subjects.
You further advise that your expertise in these matters is derived from your background as a federal agent with extensive experience relating to organized crime. Finally, you advise that your lecturing and consulting activities would take place either after the hours of normal employment or by utilizing vacation or leave time, and that it would not be performed for organizations and businesses located within the area of your jurisdiction as chief of police.
We perceive three provisions of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees which are relevant to the circumstances you have described. Section 112.313(4), F. S. 1977, provides as follows:
UNAUTHORIZED COMPENSATION. -- No public officer or employee of an agency or his spouse or minor child shall, at any time, accept any compensation, payment, or thing of value when such public officer or employee knows, or, with the exercise of reasonable care, should know, that it was given to influence a vote or other action in which the officer or employee was expected to participate in his official capacity.
Given the nature of the lectures, consultations, and the organizations involved, it does not appear that you would have any reason to believe that compensation you would receive for such services would be given to influence the performance of your public duties. This is especially true since, as you have advised, you would not be performing such services for businesses or organizations within your municipality.
The Code of Ethics also prohibits a public officer or employee from having any employment or contractual relationship with a business entity which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, his agency. Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S. 1977. As the activities you contemplate would not be performed for businesses or organizations within your municipality, this provision would not apply to your situation. Any private security firm for which you might work as a consultant would be subject to the regulation of the Department of State under Ch. 493, F. S., rather than to the police department of your city.
Finally, the Code of Ethics provides:
DISCLOSURE OR USE OF CERTAIN INFORMATION. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall disclose or use information not available to members of the general public and gained by reason of his official position for his personal gain or benefit or for the personal gain or benefit of any other person or business entity. [Section 112.313(8), F. S. 1977.]
In our opinion, this provision also does not apply to the facts you have outlined. It is apparent that your expertise in the matters on which you will be lecturing and consulting is derived primarily from your former service as a federal agent and your experiences regarding organized crime. Therefore, you have assured our staff, this is knowledge which you brought to your present position of chief of police rather than information gained by reason of your holding that position.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to accept compensation for lectures and for consulting services with private businesses which would be rendered during your off-duty hours.