CEO 85-86 -- November 26, 1985
CONFLICT OF INTEREST; SUNSHINE AMENDMENT
STATE LEGISLATOR EMPLOYED AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY ACTION AGENCY
To: Mr. William A. McGill, Executive Director, Capital Area Community Action Agency, Midway
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the executive director of a community action agency, which receives state funds, to be elected to the Florida Legislature. CEO 82-92 is referenced. However, Article II, Section 8(e), Florida Constitution, would prohibit a legislator who is employed as executive director of a community action agency from representing the agency before any state agency other than a judicial tribunal.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you to be elected to the Florida Legislature while being employed as executive director of a community action agency?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are employed as the executive director of a community action agency, which has been established as a private, nonprofit corporation. In a telephone conversation with our staff, you advised that the agency receives federal block grant funds through the Department of Community Affairs, with federal law requiring the agency to receive a certain percentage of the block grant funds received by the Department. In addition, you advised that occasionally the agency applies for grants from other State departments and works with various departments to encourage the funding of other organizations and projects. You question whether a prohibited conflict of interest would be created should you be elected to the Florida Legislature.
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).]
When the agency referred to is a legislative body and the regulatory power over the business entity resides in another agency, or when the regulatory power which the legislative body exercises over the business entity or agency is strictly through the enactment of laws or ordinances, then employment or a contractual relationship with such business entity by a public officer or employee of a legislative body shall not be prohibited by this subsection or be deemed a conflict. [Section 112.313(7)(a)2, Florida Statutes (1983).]
In a previous opinion, CEO 82-92, we concluded that these provisions of the Code of Ethics would not prohibit a State Representative from being employed as executive director of a nonprofit corporation receiving State and county funding. See also CEO 81-6, CEO 80-7, and CEO 77-129.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to serve as a member of the Legislature while retaining your employment as executive director of the community action agency. Please be advised that Article II, Section 8(e), Florida Constitution, would prohibit you from representing the agency before any State agency other than a judicial tribunal. We are enclosing copies of advisory opinions CEO 84-9, CEO 84-21, CEO 82-33, and CEO 81-24 for your information in this regard.