CEO 80-24 -- March 20, 1980
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY EMPLOYEE EMPLOYED PART TIME BY SECURITY COMPANY CONTRACTING WITH CITY
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Reference is made to prior opinions, CEO's 77-147 and 77-114. Although s. 112.313(7), F. S., prohibits a public employee from being employed by a business entity which is doing business with his public agency, s. 112.316 mandates that the Code of Ethics not be interpreted to preclude a public employee from engaging in private pursuits which do not interfere with the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a switchboard operator for a municipality to accept part- time employment as a security guard by a security company which contracts with the city inasmuch as such part-time employment in no way would interfere with the full and faithful discharge of the employee's public duties as a switchboard operator.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were I, a city switchboard operator, to be employed as a security guard by a security company which has contracted with the city?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you presently are employed full time as switchboard operator for the City of St. Petersburg. You also advise that you have been licensed to accept assignment as a security guard for a local security company. However, you advise, that company has informed you that it does not have any openings other than at city installations since the company has a contract with the city. Therefore, you question whether you may be employed by the company part time as a security guard either at city facilities or at other facilities.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees 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 employee from being employed by a business which is doing business with his agency. However, the Code of Ethics also contains the following provision:
Construction. -- It is not the intent of this part, nor shall it be construed, to prevent any officer or employee of a state agency or county, city, or other political subdivision of the state or any legislator or legislative employee from accepting other employment or following any pursuit which does not interfere with the full and faithful discharge by such officer, employee, legislator, or legislative employee of his duties to the state or the county, city, or other political subdivision of the state involved. [Section 112.316, F. S.]
This section mandates that the Code of Ethics not be interpreted to prohibit a public employee from engaging in private pursuits which do not interfere with the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. In previous advisory opinions, we have found that this provision would create a limited exemption from the prohibition contained in s. 112.313(7)(a) under circumstances which indicate that a public employee is in no way involved in his agency's regulation of the business entity which privately employs him. For example, in CEO 77-147, we advised that social workers and nurses employed by a county department of public health could be employed part time at nursing homes regulated by the department. Similarly, in CEO 77-114, we advised that s. 112.313(7)(a) would not prohibit city employees from receiving free checking accounts from a local bank doing business with the city. Here, it is apparent that your part-time employment as a security guard would in no way interfere with the full and faithful discharge of your public responsibilities as a switchboard operator.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to be employed part time as a security guard by a security company which is doing business with the City of St. Petersburg.