CEO 85-11 -- January 24, 1985
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER EMPLOYED BY OFFICE SUPPLY COMPANY DOING BUSINESS WITH BOARD
To: Mr. George L. Knight, Vice Chairman, Suwannee County School Board
A prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a school board member to be employed by an office supply company as a salesman outside of the county, where the company does business with the school board, unless one of the exemptions provided in Section 112.313(12), Florida Statutes, applies. CEO's 77-51, 77-182 and 81-28 are referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a school board member, to be employed by an office supply company as a salesman outside of the county, where the company does business with the school board? Your question in answered in the affirmative, subject to the exemptions noted below.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you serve as a member of the Suwannee County School Board and that you have been offered a job as a salesman outside of the County by a local office supply company. The company does business with the School Board, you advise, but if you accept the position you would do no business in the County.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees prohibits a public officer from having any employment with a business entity which is doing business with his agency. Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes (1983). This provision would prohibit your employment by the office supply company if it is doing business with the School Board.
However, there are a number of exemptions provided by Section 112.313(12), Florida Statutes (1983), to this prohibition. These exemptions are discussed in CEO 77-182. In particular, we note that the office supply company could do business with the School Board by sealed, competitive bid so long as you abstain from decisions relating to the bid and file CE Form 3A, Interest in Competitive Bid for Public Business, with the supervisor of elections. In addition, Section 112.313(12)(e) would permit sales to the School Board if the company is the only source of supply within the County, provided that you make disclosure to the School Board on CE Form 4A, Disclosure of Business Transaction, Relationship, or Interest. Finally, Section 112.313(12)(f) would permit the School Board to make up to $500 worth of purchases from the company within any calendar or fiscal year.
In a previous opinion, CEO 77-51, we advised that a school board member could be employed by a corporation which sold educational materials to the school board not available from other sources, where the board member did not represent the corporation in his county. As we have advised in CEO 81-28, however, CEO 77-51 was based not only on the fact that the school board member did not represent the company within the area of his school district, but also the fact that the materials sold by the company were not available to the school district from alternate sources. As explained above, if the office supply company is the sole source of materials within the county, the sole source exemption (which was not enacted until after CEO 77-51 was issued) would exempt the school board's purchases of those materials.
Accordingly, we find that a prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to be employed by the office supply company unless its sales to the School Board come within the terms of the exemptions noted above.