CEO 79-53 -- September 6, 1979
STAFF ATTORNEY FOR LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE
APPLICABILITY OF STATUTORY FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW
To: Chris Haughee, Staff Attorney, House Committee on Regulated Industries and Licensing, Tallahassee
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Reference is made to CEO 75-183 in which it was advised that, for purposes of the definition of "specified employee" in s. 112.3145(1)(b)1., F. S., the phrase "full-time state employee who serves as counsel or assistant counsel to any state agency" should be read as including legal counsel to a state agency. As the definition of "agency" found in s. 112.312(2), F. S., includes any state government entity, whether executive, judicial, or legislative, one who serves as legal counsel to a legislative committee meets the definition of "specified employee" and accordingly is subject to the annual filing of financial disclosure.
Am I, the Staff Attorney for the House of Representatives Committee on Regulated Industries and Licensing, a "specified employee" subject to the requirement of filing financial disclosure annually?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are a full-time employee of the Florida House of Representatives who acts as Staff Attorney for the Committee on Regulated Industries and Licensing. You also state that, in addition to other responsibilities, you advise the committee on legal issues which arise in the consideration of matters within its legislative jurisdiction.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that each "specified employee" shall file a statement of financial interests annually. Section 112.3145(2)(b), F. S. 1977. Persons defined within the Code of Ethics as "specified employees" include:
Public counsel created by chapter 350; an assistant state attorney; an assistant public defender; a full-time state employee who serves as counsel or assistant counsel to any state agency; a judge of industrial claims; and a hearing examiner. [Section 112.3145(1)(b)1., F. S. 1977; emphasis supplied.]
In a previous advisory opinion, CEO 75-183, we advised that the terms "counsel" and "assistant counsel" should be read as including legal counsel to a state agency. In light of that interpretation, we advised that persons holding positions which were classified as attorney I, II, III, or IV within the executive branch of state government were "specified employees" as their positions require the giving of legal advice or performance of other duties which amount to the practice of law. Thus, we have not read the above-quoted definition to include only general counsel or assistant general counsel, but rather to include full-time state employees who give legal counsel and advice to a state agency.
As the definition of "agency" found in s. 112.312(2), F. S., includes any state government entity, whether executive, judicial, or legislative, and as you render legal advice to the Committee on Regulated Industries and Licensing, we find that you are a "specified employee"; therefore, you are required to file financial disclosure as provided in s. 112.3145, F. S.