CEO 80-72 -- September 19, 1980
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
MEMBERS OF WATER MANAGEMENT BASIN BOARD SERVING ON COUNTY STUDY COMMITTEE
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
When a water management basin board member is appointed as a member of a county study committee created to advise the county commission on possible redevelopment of an area located within the basin and the county, there is no violation of the Code of Ethics because appointment to the committee does not constitute an employment or contractual relationship for purposes of applying s. 112.313(7)(a), F. S. Nor does any other provision of the Code of Ethics apply. However, this finding does not address the potential applicability of the dual officeholding prohibition of s. 5, Art. II, State Const., which must be interpreted by the Attorney General.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist when a water management basin board member is appointed as a member of a county study committee created to advise the county commission on the possible redevelopment of an area located within the basin and the county?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advised that ____ and ____ are members of the Big Cypress Basin Board, a subdistrict of the South Florida Water Management District. As members of that board appointed by the Governor, their duties include the administration of the basin area and development of an overall basin plan of secondary water control facilities, as well as other duties provided in s. 373.0695, F. S. You further advise that ____ and ____, as voting members of the basin board, have committed public funds for the basin's participation in a program to aid the drainage of a particular area within the basin, the Golden Gate Estates development.
In addition, you advise that ____ and ____ have been appointed by the Collier County Commission to the Golden Gate Estates Redevelopment Study Committee. In a telephone conversation with our staff, ____ of your office advised that this committee was formed to act as a sounding board for the county commission as to the possible redevelopment of the Golden Gate Estates area, a large, partially completed development which has serious drainage and flooding problems. She also advised that the study committee's function is to hear and evaluate Army Corps of Engineers proposals and county staff proposals on the redevelopment of the area, and to make its recommendations to the county commission. Although the study committee has no authority to expend public funds, ____ and ____, as members of the study committee, have recommended that the county support programs which would assist the development of drainage for the particular area under concern. Also, in a telephone conversation with our staff, the county attorney advised that members of the study committee receive no compensation for their service on the committee.
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 officer from having any employment or contractual relationship with an agency which is subject to the regulation of his agency and prohibits a public officer from having any employment or contractual relationship which would present a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest or which would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. However, we find that the subject basin board members do not have an employment or contractual relationship with the county by virtue of their appointment to serve on the study committee. See CEO's 77-95, 77-143, and 79-80.
Accordingly, the subject basin board members' service on a county study committee would not create a prohibited conflict of interest with their responsibilities to the basin board. Please note, however, that this opinion does not address the application of the dual officeholding prohibition of s. 5, Art. II, State Const. You may wish to contact the Attorney General regarding the applicability of that provision, since we have no jurisdiction to interpret it in an advisory opinion.