CEO 86-22 -- February 20, 1986
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY MEMBER EMPLOYED BY BANK RETAINING LAW FIRM WHICH REPRESENTS DEVELOPER BEFORE THE AUTHORITY
To: (Name withheld at person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest exists where a member of a city downtown development authority is employed as vice-president of a bank which retains a law firm which represents a developer in the negotiation of an agreement between the developer and the authority. Section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes, would not be violated as the authority member is not employed by a business entity which is doing business with the authority and as there is no incompatibility between the interest of the bank and the interest of the authority.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where you, a member of a city downtown development authority, are employed as vice-president of a bank which retains a law firm which represents a developer in the negotiation of an agreement between the developer and the authority?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you serve as a member of the Jacksonville Downtown Development Authority, an independent agency of the City of Jacksonville. You also advise that the Authority currently is in the process of negotiating an agreement with a developer for a large multi-use downtown development. You have been appointed by the chairman of the Authority to be the chairman for the project, as well as to be the Authority member who will negotiate the proposed agreement with the developer.
In addition, you advise that you are employed as Senior Vice President of a local bank. The law firm which represents the bank also has been employed by the developer to assist and represent it in the negotiation process.
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 (1985).]
The first portion of this provision prohibits a public official from having any employment or contractual relationship with a business entity which is doing business with his agency. However, your indirect relationship with the developer is considerably removed from the prohibition of this statute, as your employment is with a business entity which is doing business with a law firm, which in turn is representing another business entity which would be doing business with the Downtown Development Authority.
The second portion of Section 112.313(7)(a) prohibits a public official from having any employment or contractual relationship which would present a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest or which otherwise would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. Under the circumstances presented, we find that this prohibition also does not apply to your situation. The term "conflict of interest" is defined in Section 112.312(6), Florida Statutes, to mean "a situation in which regard for a private interest tends to lead to disregard of a public duty or interest." Under the facts you have outlined, we perceive no incompatibility between the interests of the bank which employs you and your public duties as a member of the Authority.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest exists by virtue of your employment with a bank which is represented by a law firm which also represents a developer before the Downtown Development Authority.