CEO 83-80 -- October 27, 1983
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR SERVING AS RESERVE DEPUTY SHERIFF
To: Mr. F. W. Chambers, III, County Administrator, Marion County
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a County Administrator to serve as a non-compensated reserve deputy sheriff with the County Sheriff's Department Reserve Unit. Section 112.313(3), Florida Statutes, would not be violated as a reserve deputy sheriff is not selling any services to the Sheriff's Department. Section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes, would not be violated as the County Commission does not regulate or do business with the Sheriff's Department, and as service as a reserve deputy would not present a continuing or frequently recurring conflict or impede the discharge of the County Administrator's duties.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a County Administrator, to serve as a non- compensated reserve deputy sheriff with the County Sheriff's Department Reserve Unit?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you serve as the County Administrator for Marion County. You also advise that as a result of burglaries in your home, you became involved with the Sheriff's Department and were invited to join its reserve unit in a non-paid position. After attending a four-month night recruit school to become eligible, you have served as a reserve deputy on nights and weekends.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees states in relevant part:
DOING BUSINESS WITH ONE'S AGENCY. -- No employee of an agency acting in his official capacity as a purchasing agent, or public officer acting in his official capacity, shall either directly or indirectly purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for his own agency from any business entity of which he or his spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or his spouse or child, or any combination of them, has a material interest. Nor shall a public officer or employee, acting in a private capacity, rent, lease, or sell any realty, goods, or services to his own agency, if he is a state officer or employee, or to any political subdivision or any agency thereof, if he is serving as an officer or employee of that political subdivision. The foregoing shall not apply to district offices maintained by legislators when such offices are located in the legislator's place of business. This subsection shall not affect or be construed to prohibit contracts entered into prior to:
(a) October 1, 1975.
(b) Qualification for elective office.
(c) Appointment to public office.
(d) Beginning public employment.
[Section 112.313(3), Florida Statutes (1981).]
This provision prohibits a county employee from acting in a private capacity to sell services to any agency of the county. However, because your service with the Sheriff's Department is as a non-paid volunteer, we find that you are not selling your services to the Sheriff's Department.
In addition, the Code of Ethics 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).]
This provision prohibits you from having any employment with an agency which is doing business with or is subject of the regulation of your agency, and from having any employment which would present you with a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest or would impede the full and faithful discharge of your public duties as County Administrator.
In a telephone conversation with our staff, you advised that reserve deputies are covered by workers' compensation while on duty. You also advised that although the County Commission has the authority to approve the Sheriff's budget, you play no role in that budgetary process. The only other direct relationship between the County Commission and the Sheriff's Department, you advised, is that the County Commission is required to provide space for the operation of the Sheriff's Department.
In our view, we need not determine whether you are an employee of the Sheriff's Department as a reserve deputy, as we find no prohibited conflict of interest regardless of whether you are considered an "employee." We do not find that the County Commission either regulates or is doing business with the Sheriff's Department within the contemplation of Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes. See CEO 76-2(IX), CEO 80-5, and CEO 81-5. Nor do we find that your service with the Sheriff's Department presents you with a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest or impedes the full and faithful discharge of your duties as County Administrator, since you do not have any substantial responsibilities relating to the Sheriff's Department and since your service as a reserve deputy is on nights and weekends.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest exists where you serve as a reserve deputy sheriff with the Sheriff's Department while also serving the County as County Administrator.