CEO 86-48 -- June 19, 1986
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
ASSISTANT COUNTY ATTORNEY'S SPOUSE REPRESENTING CLIENTS BEFORE COUNTY BOARDS
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest exists per se where the spouse of an assistant county attorney represents clients before various county boards, including boards advised by the assistant county attorney and other individuals in the county attorney's office. CEO's 86-5 and 85-52 are referenced.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where the spouse of an assistant county attorney represents clients before various county boards, including boards advised by the assistant county attorney and other individuals in the county attorney's office?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you serve as an Assistant County Attorney for Monroe County. You also advise that your husband is an attorney who represents clients before various County boards, including boards advised by you and by other attorneys in the County Attorney's office.
In CEO 86-5 we advised that no prohibited conflict of interest would exist where the wife of a county zoning administrator was employed as director of planning by a law firm which represented clients on zoning and other matters relating to the county's zoning code and sign ordinance. We advised there that Sections 112.313(3) and (4), Florida Statutes, are the only provisions of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees which specifically concern conflicts of interest for local public employees based upon a spouse's interests or actions. Those sections provide:
DOING BUSINESS WITH ONE'S AGENCY. -- No employee of an agency acting in his official capacity as a purchasing agent, or public officer acting in his official capacity, shall either directly or indirectly purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for his own agency from any business entity of which he or his spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or his spouse or child, or any combination of them, has a material interest. Nor shall a public officer or employee, acting in a private capacity, rent, lease, or sell any realty, goods, or services to his own agency, if he is a state officer or employee, or to any political subdivision or any agency thereof, if he is serving as an officer or employee of that political subdivision. The foregoing shall not apply to district offices maintained by legislators when such offices are located in the legislator's place of business. This subsection shall not affect or be construed to prohibit contracts entered into prior to:
(a) October 1, 1975.
(b) Qualification for elective office.
(c) Appointment to public office.
(d) Beginning public employment.
[Section 112.313(3), Florida Statutes (1985).]
UNAUTHORIZED COMPENSATION. -- No public officer or employee of an agency or his spouse or minor child shall, at any time, accept any compensation, payment, or thing of value when such public officer or employee knows, or, with the exercise of reasonable care, should know, that it was given to influence a vote or other action in which the officer or employee was expected to participate in his official capacity. [Section 112.313(4), Florida Statutes (1985).]
In CEO 85-52 we advised that generally no prohibited conflict of interest would exist where the spouse of a county commissioner was a member of a law firm which represented clients before the county commission, although we noted that there might be situations where it would be clear that the law firm had been retained for a matter to be decided by the county commission specifically because the Commissioner's spouse was a partner in the firm. As was the case in CEO 85-52, you have presented no information which would indicate that this is a possibility.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest exists per se by virtue of your spouse's representation of clients before various County boards while you remain employed as Assistant County Attorney.