CEO 85-18 -- March 6, 1985
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART TRUSTEE OFFICER OF ARCHITECTURAL FIRM CONTRACTING WITH BUSINESS ENTITY LEASING PROPERTY FROM MUSEUM
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created under Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, were the architectural firm of a trustee of the Ringling Museum of Art to contract with a nonprofit corporation which has leased property from the museum in order to develop a theater. CEO's 79-1, 79-13, 81-47 and 81-58 are referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were the architectural firm of which you are an officer to contract with a business entity which has leased property from the Ringling Museum of Art, where you serve as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Museum?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you have been appointed as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Ringling Museum of Art. You also advise that prior to your appointment there had been discussion by the Board of Trustees concerning the lease of property to a nonprofit corporation which had been formed to develop a new theater for the Sarasota area. The theater would be underwritten by the Florida State University Foundation, Inc.; private monies; and State funds appropriated by the Legislature.
Approximately two months after your appointment, the Board of Trustees of the Museum agreed to permit the location of the theater facility on State-owned land controlled by the Museum. No exchange of money will be required under the lease agreement. The ownership and operation of the nonprofit corporation's theater facility will be solely the responsibility of the corporation.
At this time, the nonprofit corporation is in the process of selecting an architectural firm and proceeding with the development of plans and specifications for the new facility. You are the president of an architectural, planning, and interiors firm which has had significant experience in the design of performing arts facilities. You question whether a conflict of interest would be created were your firm to be selected as the architect for the theater project.
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).]
In several opinions we have concluded that although this provision prohibits a public officer from having any employment with a business entity which is doing business with his agency, it does not prohibit a public officer from employment with a business entity doing business with another business entity, which in turn is doing business with his agency. See CEO 79-1, CEO 79-13, CEO 81-47 and CEO 81-58. Nor do we perceive that your relationship with the architectural firm would create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest, or impede the full and faithful discharge of your public duties.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the architectural firm of which you are president to be selected by the nonprofit theater corporation.