CEO 80-38 -- May 21, 1980
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
STATE REPRESENTATIVE LEASING PROPERTY TO COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
To: James Harold Thompson, Representative, 10th District, Tallahassee
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Reference is made to CEO 77-13, in which it was found that the Code of Ethics did not prohibit a state representative from leasing property to the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, because he would not be leasing property to his own agency and because the only regulation of the department by the Legislature is strictly through the enactment of laws. The same rationale is applicable when a state representative seeks to lease property to a county health department, and no prohibited conflict of interest is deemed to be created in such leasing.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest exist were I, a state representative, to lease property to a county for use by the county health department in the WIC Program?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are a member of the Florida House of Representatives and that recently you were contacted by members of the Gadsden County WIC Program about renting office space from you. According to Mr. Paul Boisvert, WIC Program Administrator for the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, the WIC Program is a federally funded, special supplemental food program for women, infants, and children ("WIC"). The program is administered by county health departments, which prescribe and provide supplemental food coupons to expectant mothers, infants up to age 1, and children up to age 5 who have been certified as incurring "nutritional risks."
You also advise that the health departments expend funds from the County Health Unit Trust Fund for the operation of the WIC Program and then claim monthly reimbursement from the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, which in turn receives funds from the Federal Government. These funds then are deposited into the County Health Unit Trust Fund. If a local health department needs to rent space, we are advised, it locates suitable accommodations and sends information about the proposed rental to the state WIC office. If that office feels that the rental is justified, approval is requested from the United States Department of Agriculture regional office, which grants or denies approval for the rental.
In CEO 77-13 we found that the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees did not prohibit a representative from leasing property to the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, as the representative would not be leasing property to his own agency and as the only regulation of the department by the Legislature was strictly through the enactment of laws. We are of the opinion that the rationale of that opinion is equally applicable to the situation you have described.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to lease property to a county for use by the county health department in the WIC Program.