CEO 85-22 -- March 6, 1985
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
POLICE OFFICER EMPLOYED BY AVIATION AUTHORITY SEEKING EMPLOYMENT WITH BUSINESS AT AIRPORT
To: Ms. Edwina J. Duryea, Attorney, Tampa
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a police officer with an aviation authority to be employed as a service agent while off-duty by a car rental business located at the airport operated by the authority. Here, the officer plays no role in enforcing civil regulatory compliance matters within the airport and has no official responsibility concerning the car rental company.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest exist were a police officer employed by an aviation authority to be employed while off-duty by a business located at the airport operated by the authority?
Your question is answered in the negative, under the circumstances presented.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that Mr. Gerald Way is employed as a police officer with the Police Department of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. In that position, his duties include the enforcement of the criminal and traffic laws applicable to all citizens equally, as well as the enforcement of rules and regulations peculiar to airports, such as the anti-hijacking laws. Police officers at the airport, however, are not charged with the enforcement of civil regulatory compliance matters within the airport.
You also advise that the subject officer was offered a part-time off-duty job with a car rental business at the airport as a "service agent." His duties were to be cleaning and gasing rental cars, conducting inventory, and delivering rental cars to the rental counter. You question whether this employment would have created a prohibited conflict of interest under the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees.
The Code of Ethics 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).]
We do not consider law enforcement officers to be involved in regulatory activity within the contemplation of this provision when they engage in enforcing criminal laws. See CEO 81-67. However, it does appear that the subject officer would have had employment with a business entity, the car rental company, which is doing business with his agency, the Aviation Authority.
Nevertheless, we are of the opinion that the officer's proposed employment would not be prohibited by the Code of Ethics, because of the following provision:
Construction. -- It is not the intent of this part, nor shall it be construed, to prevent any officer or employee of a state agency or county, city, or other political subdivision of the state or any legislator or legislative employee from accepting other employment or following any pursuit which does not interfere with the full and faithful discharge by such officer, employee, legislator, or legislative employee of his duties to the state or the county, city, or other political subdivision of the state involved. [Section 112.316, Florida Statutes (1983).]
First, we note that the subject officer plays no role in enforcing civil regulatory compliance matters within the airport. Secondly, the officer's position description evidences no duties with respect to the relationship between the Authority and the car rental company which is doing business at the airport. Finally, we see no other reason which would indicate that the officer's proposed employment would create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest or would interfere with the full and faithful discharge of the officer's public duties.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest under the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees would be created were the subject police officer to be employed as a "service agent" by a car rental company located at the airport which is operated by the Aviation Authority. Please be advised that we have no authority to interpret any provision within the special act creating the Aviation Authority which might be applicable to this situation.