CEO 85-20 -- March 6, 1985
VOTING CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY COUNCIL MEMBER VOTING ON MATTERS AFFECTING COMPANY RETAINING HIM AS CONSULTING ENGINEER
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
A city council member who works as a consulting electrical engineer for a petroleum company, among other clients, is required by Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes (Supp. 1984), to abstain from voting on matters affecting the petroleum company. CEO's 78-59, 80-75, 84-1, 84-11 and 85-14 are referenced.
Are you, a city council member who works as a consulting electrical engineer for a petroleum company, among other clients, required by Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes, to abstain from voting on matters affecting the petroleum company?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you serve as a member of the Jacksonville City Council and that you perform work through your company as a consulting electrical engineer, among other things. You also advise that you receive a monthly retainer, plus certain insurance coverage, from a petroleum company and act when needed to draft, review, and inspect plans and construction relating to electrical engineering from time to time for the company. Currently, about 25% of your business is with the petroleum company, but this percentage will drop soon because of the planned expansion of your company with another. Finally, you advise that you are an independent contractor in your dealings with the company, and that you have many other customers in the City and surrounding area. You question whether you may vote on matters, such as rezoning petitions and development approvals, which the petroleum company occasionally brings before the City Council.
Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes (Supp. 1984), prohibits a municipal officer from voting on a measure which inures to his special private gain and from knowingly voting on any measure which inures to the special gain of a principal by whom he is retained. In previous opinions we have found the language concerning a principal retaining a public officer to include clients of an architect (CEO 80-75), a surveyor (CEO 78-59), an attorney (CEO 84-11), an engineer (CEO 84-1), and an accountant (CEO 85-14). In light of your continuing retainer by the petroleum company and your professional relationship with that company, we are of the opinion that the company is a principal by whom you are retained.
Accordingly, we find that you are required by Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes, to abstain from voting on matters inuring to the special gain of the petroleum company which has retained you as a consulting electrical engineer.