CEO 82-66 -- September 20, 1982
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
COUNTY PROPERTY APPRAISER PARTICIPATING IN INFORMAL SEMINAR
To: Mr. Ed Crapo, Alachua County Property Appraiser
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a county property appraiser to receive a fee for participating in an informal seminar regarding the appraisal of condominium conversions sponsored by individuals not involved in such conversions within the county. As the individuals sponsoring the seminar are not involved with property located in the county, no conflict of interest would be created. As the information to be imparted includes only the application of Florida Statutes and Department of Revenue guidelines to condominium conversions, it does not appear that the property appraiser would be disclosing or using information not available to members of the general public, in violation of Section 112.313(8), Florida Statutes.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a county property appraiser, to receive a fee for participating in an informal seminar regarding the appraisal of property?
Your question is answered in the negative, under the circumstances you have presented.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are a county property appraiser and that you have been asked to participate in a small, informal seminar on ad valorem tax issues, for which you would receive a fee. It is your understanding that you would be participating to give answers on technical aspects of appraisal and the Florida Statutes regulating property appraisers.
In a telephone conversation with our staff, you advised that you have been approached by an attorney who represents several clients in the field of condominium conversion to present an informal, private seminar for his clients. You also advised that although some of these clients were involved in a condominium conversion within your County in the past, for which property you have already done the appraisal, none of the clients anticipates having any similar projects in the future in the County. The information you would be presenting would be based upon the Florida Statutes and upon guidelines of the Florida Department of Revenue to explain how an appraisal would be made on a condominium conversion, and not how to "beat" an appraisal. Finally, you advised that as property appraiser you would provide the same information without charging a fee for anyone undertaking a condominium conversion within the County, but that since the individuals who would be involved in the seminar are not converting property within the County to condominiums, you do not feel that it is your official responsibility to provide them with this information.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in part:
UNAUTHORIZED COMPENSATION. -- No public officer or employee of an agency or his spouse or minor child shall, at any time, accept any compensation, payment, or thing of value when such public officer or employee knows, or, with the exercise of reasonable care, should know, that it was given to influence a vote or other action in which the officer or employee was expected to participate in his official capacity. [Section 112.313(4), Florida Statutes (1981).]
We do not find that this provision would apply to the situation you have described. Since the individuals involved do not anticipate a condominium conversion in the County in the future, there is no reason to believe that the fee you would receive would be given to influence any action in which you are expected to participate in your official capacity.
Similarly, we do not find that your participation in the seminar would violate Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, which 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), Florida Statutes (1981).]
As the individuals sponsoring the seminar are not involved with property located in the County, it does not appear that you would have a contractual relationship with a business entity subject to the regulation of, or doing business with, the property appraiser's office, or that your participation in the seminar would create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest or would impede the discharge of your official duties.
In addition, the Code of Ethics provides:
DISCLOSURE OR USE OF CERTAIN INFORMATION. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall disclose or use information not available to members of the general public and gained by reason of his official position for his personal gain or benefit or for the personal gain or benefit of any other person or business entity. [Section 112.313(8), Florida Statutes (1981).]
Under the circumstances you have described, it does not appear that the information you will be imparting -- the application of Florida Statutes and Department of Revenue guidelines to condominium conversion -- is not available to members of the general public. For this reason, your disclosure or use of this information for your personal gain would not violate this provision of the Code of Ethics.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to receive a fee for participating in an informal seminar regarding the appraisal of property under these circumstances.