CEO 80-66 -- September 19, 1980
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
MOTHER OF DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES EMPLOYEE ACTING AS FOSTER PARENT OF CHILD PLACED BY THE DEPARTMENT
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the foster parent of a child placed by the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (D.H.R.S.) to be the mother and mother-in-law of, and live with, two employees of the department, one an attorney with the D.H.R.S. Office of Licensure and Certification and the other a reporter and field worker in the immunization program. Under s. 112.313(7)(a) there is no frequently recurring conflict or impediment of public duties inasmuch as their duties as employees of the department do not relate to its foster parent program.
1. Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist when I am employed as an attorney in the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services Office of Licensure and Certification and my mother, who lives with me, is a foster parent of a child placed by the department in my home?
2. Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist when the mother-in-law of an employee of the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services Immunization Program is a foster parent of a child placed by the department in the home they share?
Question 1 is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and in a telephone conversation with our staff, you advised that although you were formerly an attorney on contract with the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (D.H.R.S.), you are now a full-time employee of the department. In that capacity, you advised, you are an attorney in the Office of Licensure and Certification, with responsibilities pertaining to nursing home and adult congregate living facilities licensing. Thus your duties in no way involve the department's foster care program.
You also advised that your mother, who lives with you and your husband, has applied to become a foster mother for one of the recently arrived unaccompanied Cuban children, a 15-year-old boy whom the department has placed in your home. At present, you state, your mother has received a provisional license from the department for the foster care of the child. The department will make direct foster care board payments to your mother. These payments, allocated for the care of the child, include payment for clothing, incidentals, and the child's allowance.
Section 112.313(3), F. S., prohibits a public employee from selling any services to his agency. Under the circumstances you have presented, it does not appear that you are involved in the sale of any services; therefore, we find this provision of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees to be inapplicable.
The Code of Ethics, in s. 112.313(7)(a), F. S., also prohibits a public employee from having any employment or contractual relationship with a business entity or an agency which is either subject to the regulation of his agency or which is doing business with his agency. That provision also prohibits a public employee from having any employment or contractual relationship which would create a frequently recurring conflict of interest with his public duties or which would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. However, it does not appear that you have any employment or contractual relationship which could result in a conflict of interest under s. 112.313(7)(a). In addition, we note that your duties as a public employee do not relate to the D.H.R.S. foster parent program.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest exists when you are employed in the D.H.R.S. Office of Licensure and Certification and your mother, who lives with you, is foster parent of a child placed by the department in your home.
In your letter of inquiry you advised that your husband also is an employee of the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, but in its immunization program. He advised in a telephone conversation with our staff that his duties include the investigative reporting of vaccine-preventable diseases, the preparation of monthly reports on the immunization of children, and the giving of immunizations in the field. He further advised that his responsibilities do not relate to the department's foster parent program.
Based on the rationale of our response to your first question, we answer your second question also in the negative.