CEO 84-118 - November 29,1984
CONFLICT OF INTEREST; VOTING CONFLICT
CITY-COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION MEMBER SERVING ON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE TASK FORCE REGARDING LAND USE PLANNING
To: Ms. Debra L. Romanello, Counsel for HiIlsborough County City-County, Planning Commission
No prohibited conflict of interest exists under Section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes, where a member of a City-County Planning Commission serves on a Chamber of Commerce Task Force which will make recommendations regarding growth management and land use planning, as the Commission member does not have an employment or contractual relationship with the Task Force. No voting conflict of interest would be created under Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes, for a Planning Commission member who is a member of the Task Force if a recommendation or proposal of the Task Force comes before the Commission, as the recommendation or proposal would not inure to the special gain of the Commission member or of a principal by whom he is retained. CEO 78-72 is referenced.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where a member of a city county planning commission serves on a chamber of commerce task force which will make recommendations regarding growth management and land use planning?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that Mr. O. E. Melo and Mr. Joe Chillura, Jr. are members of the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission, which coordinates all planning and land use activities within the County. You also advise that the two Commissioners serve on a task force of the local Chamber of Commerce which has been created to study problems relating to development along the I-75 corridor in east Hillsborough County. Membership on the task force is voluntary and without compensation. It is anticipated that the task force will make recommendations or proposals to the Planning Commission regarding growth management and land use planning along the I-75 corridor.
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 (1983).]
This provision prohibits public officers from having certain conflicting employment or contractual relationships. However, as membership on the task force is voluntary and without cornpensation, we find that neither Planning Commissioner has an employment or contractual relationship with the task force. See CEO 80-45 and CEO 82-10.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest exists where two members of the City-County Planning Commission serve on the Chamber of Commerce task force.
Would a voting conflict of interest be created for a planning commission member who is a member of the chamber of commerce task force if a recommendation or proposal of the task force comes before the planning commission?
This question is answered in the negative.
Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes, as amended by Chapter 84-357, Laws of Florida, prohibits a local public officer from voting in his official capacity upon a measure which inures to his special private gain, and from knowingly voting on a measure which inures to the special gain of a principal by whom he is retained. In addition to requiring abstention, the new voting conflict law also requires oral and written disclosures. Under the previous law, which used substantially identical language, we found that a county commissioner was not faced with a voting conflict of interest when a recommendation of an advisory committee on which he served came before the county commission. CEO 78-72.
Here, it does not appear that the recommendations of the Task Force would inure to the special private gain of either of the two subject Planning Commissioners. Nor does it appear that the task force is a 'principal" by whom they are retained.
Accordingly, we find that no voting conflict of interest requiring abstention from voting would be created because of the subject Commissioners' membership on the task force were recommendations or proposals of the task force to come before the Planning Commission. We note that in an analogous situation, the Third District Court of Appeal has concluded that members of a County Commission are not disqualified from voting on a rezoning matter because of prior public pronouncements. Izaak Walton League of America v. Monroe County, 448 So.2d 1170 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1984).