CEO 85-27 -- April 4, 1985
VOTING CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY COUNCIL MEMBER VOTING ON CONDEMNATION OF PROPERTY OWNED BY PARENT
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
A city council member is not prohibited by Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes, from voting on the condemnation of property owned by his mother, where the council member would receive no compensation or financial benefit from the sale of the property. Under these circumstances, issues regarding condemnation would not inure to the special private gain of the council member or to the special gain of any principal by whom he is retained. CEO 77-62 is revoked to the extent that it is inconsistent.
Are you, a city council member, prohibited by Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes, from voting on the condemnation of property which is owned by your mother?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you serve as a member of the Fort Walton Beach City Council, which may vote on the condemnation of property in a downtown redevelopment area. You further advise that a developer is purchasing an entire block of property in the redevelopment area for the purpose of building a shopping center. One of the owners of a large portion of this property is your mother, who has entered into an agreement with the developer to sell her property to him. In addition, there are three small parcels of property that are subject to condemnation for the purposes of tying the block together. Two of these parcels are critical as far as traffic flow and safety are concerned, and the Department of Transportation is considering blocking all ingress and egress from a Federal highway unless this property is consolidated into the proposed center.
You also advise that your mother owns all of her property in her name, and that you will receive no compensation or financial benefit from the sale of her property. You hold no mortgages and receive no income from her real estate, although you are a one-fourth heir to her estate. You question whether you would have a conflict of interest were a vote on the condemnation of the parcels of property to be required. Alternatively, you question whether you may vote if the vote were to condemn the entire block, with the City having the voluntary purchase contracts assigned to the City for the purpose of resale to the developer.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
No county, municipal, or other local public officer shall vote in his official capacity upon any measure which inures to his special private gain or shall knowingly vote in his official capacity upon any measure which inures to the special gain of any principal, other than an agency as defined in s. 112.313(2), by whom he is retained. Such public officer shall, prior to the vote being taken, publicly state to the assembly the nature of his interest in the matter from which he is abstaining from voting and, within 15 days after the vote occurs, disclose the nature of his interest as a public record in a memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting, who shall incorporate the memorandum in the minutes. However, a commissioner of a community redevelopment agency created or designated pursuant to s. 163.356 or s. 163.357 or an officer of an independent special tax district elected on a one- acre, one-vote basis is not prohibited from voting. [Section 112.3143(3), Florida Statutes (Supp. 1984).]
This provision prohibits you from voting on a measure which inures to your special private gain and from knowingly voting on a measure which inures to the special gain of a principal by whom you are retained.
In CEO 77-62 we advised that a member of the Cabinet could abstain from voting on a matter regarding the development of land located adjacent to land owned by his father. Without specifically considering how the matter under consideration would inure to the special private gain of the Cabinet member, we concluded that he would be required to file a memorandum of voting conflict if he were to vote (as permitted by Section 112.3143 at that time).
Upon further reflection, we are persuaded that a measure impacting on property owned by an official's parent would not inure to the special private gain of the official. Here, you have indicated that you have no interest in the property and that you will not receive any financial benefit from its sale. In our view, the possibility that you might inherit a portion of your mother's property or of the proceeds from the sale of that property does not indicate that the condemnation of the property would inure to your special private gain, or to the special gain of a principal by whom you are retained. Although the condemnation of the property would inure to the gain of your mother, the possibility that you would inherit the property or the proceeds from its sale is too remote and indirect an interest in the property for us to conclude that condemnation of the property would inure to your special private gain. Similarly, we are of the opinion that the condemnation of the other parcels of property in the block would not inure to your special private gain.
Accordingly, we find that you are not prohibited by Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes, from voting on the condemnation of property owned by your mother or on the condemnation of adjacent property. For the reasons set forth in CEO 77-62, we are of the opinion that you would be permitted to abstain from voting on this matter. Finally, to the extent that CEO 77-62 is inconsistent with this opinion, CEO 77-62 is revoked.