CEO 81-9 -- January 22, 1981
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
TOWN BUILDING OFFICIAL DOING BUSINESS AS BUILDING CONTRACTOR
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
A public employee is prohibited by Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S., from engaging in private employment which is subject to the regulation of his public agency. Thus, in previous advisory opinions the Commission has found that building officials and building inspectors are prohibited from having private involvement in the building industry within the area of their jurisdiction, as they or their department would be cast in the role of approving their own work or that of their associates. See, for example, CEO's 76-42 and 78-87. Similarly, one may not engage in the construction industry within a municipality while serving simultaneously as building official or building inspector for that municipality.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where a town building official/building inspector is a contractor who builds within the town and who inspects his own construction?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that the Town of Hilliard employs a Building Official/Building Inspector who inspects all new construction and additions in the Town for compliance with the Southern Standard Building Code, which has been adopted by the Town. The Building Inspector receives as his compensation 75 percent of the building permit fees collected. You also advise that .... holds these positions and privately is a contractor who builds primarily in the area. Thus, at this time, he inspects his own construction and pays the full permit fee to the Town.
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 engaging in private employment which is subject to the regulation of his public agency. Thus, in previous opinions, we have advised that this provision prohibits building officials and building inspectors from private involvement in the building industry within the area of their jurisdiction, as they or their department would be cast in the role of approving their own work or that of their associates. See CEO's 78-87 and 76-42.
Accordingly, we find that the subject Building Official/Building Inspector may not engage in the construction industry within the Town of Hilliard while serving as Building Official/Building Inspector for the Town. Your letter also raises an issue under the Anti-Nepotism Law, Section 116.111, F. S. Please be advised that we have no authority to interpret this provision of law in an advisory opinion. You may wish to contact the Attorney General for his opinion on this matter.