CEO 79-68 -- October 17, 1979
SECTION 8(e), ARTICLE II, STATE CONSTITUTION
REPRESENTATION OF CLIENT BEFORE PAROLE AND PROBATION COMMISSION BY FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
The Sunshine Amendment to the State Constitution prohibits a statewide elected officer from personally representing another person or entity for compensation before the government body or agency he served for a period of 2 years following vacation of office. Section 8(e), Art. II, State Const. This prohibition would not be applicable to the representation of clients before the Parole and Probation Commission by a former Secretary of State because such former officer's agency was not the commission but, rather, the Department of State and the Cabinet.
As former Secretary of State, am I prohibited by s. 8(e), Art. II of the State Constitution from representing a client before the Florida Parole and Probation Commission for a period of 2 years after leaving office?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you served as Secretary of State of the State of Florida from your appointment on July 19, 1978, until January 2, 1979, and that you subsequently have returned to the private practice of law. Recently, you advise, you were contacted by a client and asked to represent that client before the Florida Parole and Probation Commission. You question whether you may undertake such representation in light of the prohibition contained in s. 8(e), Art. II, State Const.
That section of the Constitution provides in relevant part:
No member of the legislature or statewide elected officer shall personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the government body or agency of which the individual was an officer or member for a period of two years following vacation of office. . . .
Your inquiry raises two issues under this provision: first, whether you were a statewide elected officer, having been appointed as Secretary of State by the Governor; and secondly, whether the Parole and Probation Commission is a government body or agency of which you were an officer or member. In our view, however, we need not address the first issue because we find that the Parole and Probation Commission is not a government body or agency of which you were an officer or member.
The Secretary of State serves as a member of the Cabinet, as well as serving as the head of the Department of State. Section 4(a), Art. IV, State Const., and s. 20.10(1), F. S. 1977. The Parole and Probation Commission, on the other hand, is not part of the Department of State. Sections 20.10 and 20.32, F. S. Nor is the Secretary of State a member of that commission.
The Secretary of State, as a member of the Cabinet, does play a role in the selection of Parole and Probation Commission members. Under that process the Governor and the Cabinet appoint the members of a Parole and Probation Commission Qualifications Committee, who review the performance of incumbent commission members and who recommend three eligible persons for appointment by the Governor and the Cabinet. Section 947.02, F. S. (1978 Supp.). Nevertheless, the Secretary of State's participation in this process does not imply that he is an officer or a member of the Parole and Probation Commission.
Accordingly, we find that, as former secretary of state, you are not prohibited by s. 8(e), Art. II, State Const., from representing a client before the Florida Parole and Probation Commission for a period of 2 years after leaving office.