CEO 83-16 -- March 10, 1983
APPLICABILITY OF POST-OFFICEHOLDING RESTRICTION ON LOBBYING
To: Mr. Wilmer H. Mitchell, Attorney, Pensacola
Article II, Section 8(e), Florida Constitution, does not prohibit a former member of the House of Representatives from receiving reimbursement for travel, lodging, food, and other expenses incurred in activities he has undertaken involving the Legislature in behalf of a nonprofit organization. Section 8(e) prohibits a former legislator from personally lobbying the Legislature for compensation within two years after leaving office. However, reimbursement for expenses is not "compensation." CEO 80-41 is referenced.
Does Article II, Section 8(e), Florida Constitution, prohibit a former member of the House of Representatives from receiving reimbursement for travel, lodging, food, and other expenses incurred in activities he has undertaken involving the Legislature in behalf of a nonprofit organization?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and in a telephone conversation with our staff, you have advised that Mr. Tom Patterson, formerly a member of the Florida House of Representatives, presently serves as Executive Director of a newly formed association of entertainment and dining interests which has been created as a nonprofit organization. You also advised that he has not been compensated for his work in this capacity, although it is intended that he will be compensated in the future. He will not undertake any activities in behalf of the association which might constitute lobbying before the Legislature while receiving compensation from the association, you advised. However, prior to the date of your inquiry he undertook some activities for this group which might be construed as "representing another" before the Legislature under the provisions of Article II, Section 8, Florida Constitution. He was not due or paid any salary or other compensation during the time he undertook these activities, and you advised that he will not be compensated for these activities. You question whether the association may reimburse him for out-of- pocket travel, food, lodging, or similar expenses he incurred in these activities.
Article II, Section 8(e), Florida Constitution, provides in relevant part:
No member of the legislature or statewide elected officer shall personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the government body or agency of which the individual was an officer or member for a period of two years following vacation of office. . . .
In CEO 80-41, we advised that this provision would not prohibit a former member of the House of Representatives from serving as a legislative officer for a veterans' organization without salary but with reimbursement for travel expenses. That opinion was based upon our interpretation of the word "compensation" as not including reimbursement for expenses. Similarly, we do not find that Article II, Section 8(e) would prohibit the reimbursement for expenses which is contemplated by the association in this case.
Accordingly, we find that Article II, Section 8(e), Florida Constitution, would not prohibit the subject former legislator from receiving reimbursement for expenses incurred in activities in behalf of the association which might constitute representing the association before the Legislature.