CEO 85-91 -- December 11, 1985
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT SUPERVISOR REPRESENTING AS ATTORNEY EMPLOYEE OF DISTRICT'S CONSULTING ENGINEERING FIRM
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest exists where an elected member of the board of supervisors of an improvement district represents as an attorney an employee of an engineering firm which consults with the district. Section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes, would not be violated as the supervisor's contractual relationship is not with the engineering firm and as his representation is unrelated to district matters.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where you, an elected member of the board of supervisors of an improvement district, represent as an attorney an employee of an engineering firm which consults with the district?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are an elected member of the Board of Supervisors of the Plantation Acres Improvement District, a State created improvement district in Broward County. You also advise that you are an attorney and in that capacity you have represented an individual who now is an employee of the District's consulting engineering firm since prior to your election to the Board of Supervisors. To the best of your knowledge, the employee owns no equity in the engineering firm and is not a director or officer of the firm.
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).]
The first part of this provision prohibits a public officer from having a contractual relationship with a business entity which is doing business with his agency. However, your contractual relationship as an attorney is with the employee of the engineering firm and not with the firm, which is doing business with the Improvement District.
Section 112.313(7)(a) also prohibits a public officer from having any contractual relationship which would create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest or which would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. In a telephone conversation with our staff, you advised that the employee is the head engineer for the firm in charge of the work of the District. Your representation of the employee has been in civil matters arising out of events occurring prior to his employment with the engineering firm, you advised; your representation has nothing to do with the District and is not adverse to the interests of the engineering firm. For these reasons, we conclude that your representation of the employee does not present you with a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest and does not impede the full and faithful discharge of your duties as a member of the District Board of Supervisors.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest exists by virtue of your representation of an employee of the District's consulting engineering firm.