CEO 83-9 -- March 10, 1983
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBERS OF ORLANDO-ORANGE COUNTY EXPRESSWAY AUTHORITY
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
The members of the governing board of the Orlando- Orange County Expressway Authority are neither "state officers" nor "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing a statement of financial interests annually. Although the Authority is created as an agency of the State under Section 348.753(1), Florida Statutes, it does not appear that the Authority has statewide jurisdiction, and therefore its members are not "state officers" as defined in Section 112.3145(1)(c)2, Florida Statutes. Nor would the members of the Authority be "local officers" as defined in Section 112.3145(1)(a)2, Florida Statutes, as the Authority is not an authority of a political subdivision of the State.
Are the members of the governing board of the Orlando- Orange County Expressway Authority "state officers" or "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing a statement of financial interests annually?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority is established by Part III, Chapter 348, Florida Statutes. The governing body of the Authority consists of five members, three of whom are appointed by the Governor, with the remaining two members being the Chairman of the County Commission and a representative of the Department of Transportation, serving ex officio. Section 348.753(2), Florida Statutes. The Authority is created as a "body politic and corporate agency of the state," with the latter term being defined to include "the state and any department of, or corporation, agency, or instrumentality heretofore or hereafter created, designated or established by, the state." Sections 348.753(1) and 348.752(9), Florida Statutes. The Authority is authorized to exercise numerous, non-advisory powers, including the right to construct, maintain, and own the Orlando-Orange County Expressway System, to establish and collect fees and charges, to borrow money and issue bonds, and to exercise the power of eminent domain. Section 348.754, Florida Statutes.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that each "state officer" and "local officer" is required to file a statement of financial interests annually. Section 112.3145(2)(b), Florida Statutes. The term "state officer" is defined in part to mean
[a]n appointed member of each board, commission, authority, or council having statewide jurisdiction, excluding a member of an advisory body. [Section 112.3145(1)(c)2, Florida Statutes.]
Although the Authority is designated as an agency of the state, it does not appear that the Authority has statewide jurisdiction, as its primary purpose and function is related to the Orlando-Orange County Expressway System. In addition, we note that the Attorney General advised in Opinion AGO 073-32 that members of the governing body of the Authority are not state officers for purposes of the dual- officeholding prohibition of the Constitution, and that employees of the Authority were not State employees for purposes of the State officers' and employees' group insurance program or the State Career Service System.
The term "local officer" is defined in part to mean
[a]ny appointed member of a board, commission, authority, community college district board of trustees, or council of any political subdivision of the state, excluding any member of an advisory body . . . . [Section 112.3145(1)(a)2, Florida Statutes.]
We are of the opinion that a member of the Authority is not an appointed member of an authority of a political subdivision of the state within the contemplation of this definition of "local officer." As the Code of Ethics does not contain a definition of "political subdivision," we must rely on the following definition:
The words 'public body' 'body politic' or 'political subdivision' include counties, cities, towns, villages, special tax school districts, special road and bridge districts, bridge districts, and all other districts in this state. [Section 1.01(9), Florida Statutes.]
No provision of Chapter 348 speaks of the Authority in terms of comprising a district or any of the other entities named in this definition. In contrast, for example, we note the following definition of "political subdivision" provided in the Emergency Interim Executive and Judicial Succession Act:
'Political subdivision' includes counties, cities, towns, villages, townships, districts, authorities, and other public corporations and entities whether organized and existing under charter or general law. [Section 22.03(5), Florida Statutes.]
We doubt that the Legislature intended to exempt from the financial disclosure law members of bodies such as the Authority whose powers, including the power of eminent domain, clearly are not solely advisory. However, in construing the financial disclosure law, we must interpret it according to the precise language adopted by the Legislature. Florida Gulf Health Systems Agency, Inc. v. Commission on Ethics, 354 So.2d 932 (Fla. 2d DCA 1978).
Accordingly, although the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority is a body politic and corporate and an agency of the State, we find that its members are neither "state officers" nor "local officers" for purposes of the financial disclosure law. Please note, however, that the members of the Authority would be subject to the requirement of filing a Disclosure of Specified Business Interests (Commission on Ethics Form 3) under Section 112.313(9), Florida Statutes. Section 112.313 applies to officers of an "agency," which term is defined in Section 112.312(2), Florida Statutes, to mean any authority of the State.