CEO 89-60 -- October 26, 1989
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
SPEAKER OF HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SERVING AS CHIEF
ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE
To: T. K. Wetherell, State Representative, 29th District (Daytona Beach)
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees would not prohibit the Speaker of the House of Representatives from being employed as the chief administrative officer of a community college. CEO 81-14 and CEO 79-59 are referenced.
Does any provision of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees prohibit you from serving as the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives while being employed as the chief administrative officer of a community college, if you were to perform your legislative duties while on leave without pay from the community college?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry, you advise that you are a member of the Florida House of Representatives. You inquire whether you may be employed as chief administrative officer of a community college were you to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives. During the time you would perform your legislative duties, you advise, you would be on leave without pay from your position with the community college.
The only provision of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees that may be applicable to your question is Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, which provides:
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 anagency 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.
In connection with this prohibition, Section 112.313(7)(a)2, Florida Statutes, provides:
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.
Under these provisions of the Code of Ethics, we previously have advised that a member of the Legislature may be employed as an administrator of a State university or community college (CEO 79-59) and that a State Representative may be employed by a State university (CEO 81-14). Similarly, we have advised that the Code of Ethics would not prohibit a State legislator from being employed as executive director of a nonprofit corporation receiving State funds. See CEO 85-86 and CEO 82-92. We believe the rationale of these opinions is applicable here, with the result that your employment by a community college would not present a prohibited conflict of interest with your responsibilities as a legislator.
We do not believe that this result should differ because you contemplate serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Whether serving as Speaker or in another capacity within the House, your public duties relate to the enactment of legislation affecting the interests of the State, its governmental agencies, and its people. Although your ability to influence the legislative process would increase while serving as Speaker, your responsibility to your constituents and the State as a whole remains identical and therefore, within a conflict of interest context, any conflict would not be magnified by the position you would hold within the Legislature.
Nor do we believe that holding the position of chief administrative officer of a community college necessarily presents a prohibited conflict of interest with the public responsibilities of a legislator or Speaker. We assume that the duties of such a position would not require you to lobby the Legislature in behalf of the community college, as we note the prohibition of Article II, Section 8(e), Florida Constitution, against a legislator personally representing another person or entity for compensation before any State agency other than a judicial tribunal. Under Section 240.319(3)(l), Florida Statutes, each board of trustees of a community college is responsible for determining the compensation and conditions of employment of its personnel. Therefore, it appears that the board of trustees of the college would be responsible for determining whether you may be able to fulfill the responsibilities of the college's chief administrative officer while serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to serve both as Speaker of the House of Representatives and as chief administrative officer of a community college.