CEO 90-13 -- January 24, 1990
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY FIREMAN OWNING AND OPERATING
FIRE EQUIPMENT COMPANY
To: Jeffrey L. Kossis, Attorney (Deerfield Beach)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a city fireman to own and operate a business selling and servicing fire equipment outside the area serviced by the City fire department. CEO 77-75 is referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a city fireman to own and operate a fire equipment company doing business outside of the area serviced by the city fire department?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that Michael Robinson is employed as a firefighter with the City of Deerfield Beach. In that capacity, his duties include responding to emergency calls and inspecting commercial and residential properties within the City to determine compliance with City codes and ordinances. Mr. Robinson plans to open a business through which he will sell and service fire extinguishing equipment and supplies while off-duty. He does not plan to do business either with or within the City or any municipality served by the City's Fire Department. You question whether the Code of Ethics prohibits such activity.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
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 of 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]
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]
These provisions would prohibit a city employee from selling goods or services to the city which employs him or to any agency thereof and from or having any employment or contractual relationship with a business entity regulated by or doing business with his agency.
Since the subject employee would not be doing business within the areas served by the Fire Department and the City does not regulate or license the fire equipment company, these provisions are inapplicable to this situation.
Section 112.313(7)(a) also prohibits a public employee from having employment that would create a frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties. In this regard, we found in CEO 77-75 that a firefighter should not place himself in a position to make fire inspections of private property and subsequently to sell equipment to the same persons whose property he had inspected. As the subject firefighter will not be selling or servicing equipment and supplies within the area served by the Fire Department, however, we find this prohibition also to be inapplicable.
Accordingly, under the circumstances presented, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the subject firefighter to own and operate a fire equipment company doing business outside the area served by the City Fire Department.