CEO 85-44 -- June 13, 1985
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW TO ATTORNEY VOLUNTARILY PROVIDING SERVICES FOR CITY
To: Mr. Harold P. Kravitz, Attorney, Hialeah
An attorney who has provided legal services to a municipality on an occasional basis and without compensation is not a "local officer" subject to the requirement of filing a statement of financial interests annually under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes. Although a county or municipal attorney is required to file financial disclosure, occasional, voluntary assistance without compensation to a municipality does not constitute service as a city attorney.
Are you, an attorney who has provided legal services to a municipality on an occasional basis and without compensation, a "local officer" subject to the requirement of filing a statement of financial interests annually?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and in a telephone conversation with our staff, you have advised that you are an attorney who has a weekend home in the City of Layton. Through the years, either on weekends or during the week, you have been requested by the Mayor or a City Council member to render legal assistance, usually on minor matters. As the City is small and its officers and employees serve on strictly a voluntary basis, your legal work also has been done without compensation. However, on one occasion another attorney in your firm represented the City in a lawsuit, for which the firm was compensated by the City.
You have advised that there is no agreement or understanding between you and the City about your services. Rather, you have provided assistance on the request of the City, occasionally drafting an ordinance the City feels is important, giving opinions and advice on planning and zoning matters, and appearing on specific matters at Council meetings upon request. You estimate that you are contacted by the City an average of once every two months. To the best of your knowledge, no one else does legal work for the City.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that each "local officer" shall file a statement of financial interests annually. Section 112.3145(2)(b), Florida Statutes. The term "local officer" is defined to include any person holding the position of county or municipal attorney. Section 112.3145(1)(a)3, Florida Statutes.
Our previous opinions dealing with the question of who is a "city attorney" under this provision, such as CEO 77-171, CEO 77-138, and CEO 75-101, have involved attorneys or law firms retained by a municipality to provide services as city attorney. We are of the opinion that you are not serving as City Attorney, as you have not been retained by the City to perform the duties of a city attorney, which generally would include such matters as regularly attending meetings to provide legal advice, preparing contracts and other instruments, prosecuting and defending lawsuits, and approving the form of ordinances and resolutions. Here, you have no ongoing relationship with the City, and we are of the view that your occasional, voluntary assistance to the City is not sufficient to bring you within the classification of a "municipal attorney" for purposes of the financial disclosure law.
Accordingly, we find that you are not a "local officer," and therefore that you are not subject to the requirement of filing a statement of financial interests annually.