CEO 80-17 -- February 21, 1980
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
EMPLOYEE OF COUNTY JUVENILE WELFARE BOARD SERVING IN LEGISLATURE
To: Carl E. Meisner, Planning and Funding Consultant, Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County, St. Petersburg
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Reference is made to CEO's 77-13 and 79-59. No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were an employee of a county juvenile welfare board to serve as a member of the Legislature based on the exemption in s. 112.313(7)(a)2., F. S., to the prohibition against a public officer's being employed by an agency which is subject to the regulation of his public agency. That exemption makes the prohibition inapplicable when the regulatory power exercised by the officer's agency is strictly through the enactment of laws or ordinances, as would be the case in the Legislature's regulation of a county board.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were I, an employee of a county juvenile welfare board, to serve as a member of the State Legislature?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that presently you are employed by the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County as planning and funding consultant, in which capacity you work with governmental and voluntary providers of social services for children, review applications made to the juvenile welfare board for funds, consult with the director of the board and other staff, and make recommendations to the board regarding funding of programs. The juvenile welfare board was created by ch. 23483, 1945, Laws of Florida. As subsequently amended, that chapter provides that the nine-member board is responsible for providing for the care of dependent juveniles of the county; for providing for child guidance, psychological, or psychiatric clinics for juveniles; and for collecting information and statistical data regarding the needs of juveniles in the county, among other duties. You question whether the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees would prohibit your running for election to the Legislature while remaining employed by the board.
The Code of Ethics provides in relevant part:
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.]
This provision prohibits a public officer from being employed by an agency which is subject to the regulation of his agency and, thus, would have the effect of prohibiting a legislator from being employed by a public agency which was created by an act of the Legislature. However, the Code of Ethics also provides:
When the agency referred to is a legislative body and the regulatory power over the business entity resides in another agency, or when the regulatory power which the legislative body exercises over the business entity or agency is strictly through the enactment of laws or ordinances, then employment or a contractual relationship with such business entity by a public officer or employee of a legislative body shall not be prohibited by this subsection or be deemed a conflict. [Section 112.313(7)(a)2., F. S.]
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to serve as a member of the Legislature while being employed by the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County.