CEO 88-15 -- March 16, 1988
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
STATE REPRESENTATIVE SERVING ON ADVISORY BOARD
TO CORPORATION CONTRACTING WITH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a State Representative to serve on an advisory board to a corporation which is contracting with the Department of Corrections. Previous opinions CEO 84-21 and CEO 87-47 are referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a State Representative, to serve on an advisory board to a corporation which is contracting with the Department of Corrections?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and subsequent correspondence you advise that you serve as a member of the Florida House of Representatives and as Chairman of the House Committee on Corrections, Probation, and Parole. You also advise that you have been asked to serve on an advisory board to a corporation which is involved in contractual prison projects with the Department of Corrections. The advisory board is responsible for advising the board of directors of the corporation on any company proposal or projects brought to the advisory board. Advisory board members receive a stipend for each meeting, you advise, but they receive no other compensation to your knowledge. Finally, you advise that neither the Committee on Corrections nor the Legislature is involved in these contractual matters; the Legislature appropriates funds to carry out the mission of the Department of Corrections but the Department is responsible for administering all of its contracts.
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 (1987).]
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 (1987).]
In a previous opinion, CEO 84-21, we advised that the Code of Ethics would not prohibit a State Representative who served as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Prison Overcrowding from being employed as a consultant by a company doing business with the Department of Corrections. Similarly, we advised in CEO 87-47 that a State Representative who chaired the Appropriations Education Subcommittee would not be prohibited from investing in a portable classroom building company which would do business with public schools, community colleges, and universities in this State. For the reasons expressed in those opinions and in the opinions referenced therein, we find that no provision of the Code of Ethics would prohibit your serving on the advisory board to this corporation.
We also find applicable the rationale of these opinions regarding the Sunshine Amendment's prohibition against a legislator personally representing an entity for compensation during term of office before a State agency other than judicial tribunals (Article II, Section 8(e), Florida Constitution). Under the circumstances you have presented, it does not appear that your service on the advisory board to the corporation would contemplate any representation of the corporation before the Department of Corrections.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to serve on an advisory board of a corporation which is involved in contractual prison projects with the Department of Corrections.