CEO 83-17 -- March 10, 1983
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
STATE REPRESENTATIVE EMPLOYED BY LAW FIRM, ONE PARTNER OF WHICH APPEARS BEFORE LEGISLATURE
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a State Representative to be employed by a law firm, one partner of which appears before the Legislature on workers' compensation matters in behalf of the Speaker of the House and the Florida Bar without remuneration. Because of the partner's nonremunerated service as an appointee of the Speaker of the House and as a member of the Florida Bar, and because of the exemption for legislative bodies contained in Section 112.313(7)(a)2, Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, would not apply.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a State Representative, to be employed by a law firm, one partner of which appears before the Legislature on workers' compensation matters in behalf of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Florida Bar?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you intend to seek employment as a law clerk or legal researcher with a particular law firm. One of the partners of that law firm has been appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives to a commission overseeing workers' compensation and is a member of a Florida Bar committee which also is reviewing workers' compensation. The partner receives no remuneration for his work for the Speaker and the Florida Bar, and you advise that it is in these capacities that he appears before the Legislature.
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), Florida Statutes (1981).]
Under the circumstances you have presented, it is clear that the law firm with which you are seeking employment is not doing business with the House of Representatives. To the extent that the law firm might be considered to be subject to the regulation of the Legislature, we find that Section 112.313(7)(a)2, Florida Statutes, would be applicable. That subsection provides:
When the agency referred to is a legislative body and the regulatory power over the business entity resides in another agency, or when the regulatory power which the legislative body exercises over the business entity or agency is strictly through the enactment of laws or ordinances, then employment or a contractual relationship with such business entity by a public officer or employee of a legislative body shall not be prohibited by this subsection or be deemed a conflict.
Nor does it appear that your employment with the law firm would create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest or would impede the full and faithful discharge of your public duties as a State Representative. In particular, we note that the partner's appearances before the House result from his nonremunerated service as a member of the Speaker's workers' compensation commission and service as a member of the Florida Bar.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to be employed by a law firm, one of the partners of which appears before the Legislature as a member of a Florida Bar committee and as a member of a commission appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. You may wish to contact the Speaker's Office or the House Committee on Ethics and Elections regarding the applicability of the Rules of the House of Representatives to your situation.