CEO 81-25 -- May 14, 1981
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY COMMISSIONER EMPLOYED BY CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a city commissioner to be employed as a maintenance employee by the city's housing authority. Section 112.313(10)(a), F. S., would prohibit a city commissioner from also being an employee of the city commission, but not from being an employee of the housing authority commission. Nor would Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S., prohibit the proposed employment, despite the city commission's authority to concur in the appointment and removal of housing authority commissioners, since the housing authority is a public body corporate and politic, independent of the city. CEO's 76-112 and 76-199 are referenced in this regard.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created under the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees were you, a city commissioner, to be employed by your city's housing authority?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that prior to the time you were elected to the City Commission of the City of Apalachicola, you were a maintenance employee for the City's Housing Authority. Following your election to the City Commission, you advise, you were asked to and did resign your position with the Housing Authority. At the present time, you advise, there is an opening for a maintenance man with the Housing Authority, and you would like to apply for the position.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in part:
EMPLOYEES HOLDING OFFICE. -- No employee of a state agency or of a county, municipality, special taxing district, or other political subdivision of the state shall hold office as a member of the governing board, council, commission, or authority, by whatever name known, which is his employer while, at the same time, continuing as an employee of such employer. [Section 112.313(10)(a), F. S. (1979).]
This provision would prohibit you, as a City Commissioner, from being employed by the City Commission. However, housing authorities are authorized to employ such persons as they may require, and to determine their qualifications, duties, and compensation. Section 421.05(2), F. S. (Supp. 1980). If you were employed by the Housing Authority, the Housing Authority rather than the City Commission would be your employer. Thus, Section 112.313(10)(a) would not prohibit the employment you propose.
The Code of Ethics also provides:
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.]
The first portion in this provision prohibits you from being employed by an agency which is subject to the regulation of the City Commission.
The members of the Housing Authority Commission are appointed by the City Mayor with the approval of the City Commission; in addition, the Mayor, with the concurrence of the City Commission, may remove a Commissioner of a Housing Authority for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or misconduct in office. Sections 421.05 and 421.07, F. S. However, the Housing Authority is a public body corporate and politic in its own right. Section 421.04(1), F. S. The powers of the Housing Authority, which include the power to sue and be sued; to acquire, lease, and operate housing projects; to enter into contracts; to conduct investigations; and to exercise the power of eminent domain, are exercised by the Housing Authority Commission independently of the City Commission. Chapter 421, F. S.
In two previous opinions, CEO 76-112 and CEO 76-199, we found that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created if a city councilman were employed by a city hospital. There we advised that a city council's power to appoint and remove hospital board members did not constitute "regulation" in the sense contemplated by Section 112.313(7)(a), above.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to be employed by the Housing Authority of the City while serving as a City Commissioner. As you have not provided us with any information regarding your earlier resignation from employment with the Housing Authority, our opinion does not address that situation and should not be interpreted as having any bearing on it.