CEO 90-38 -- April 26, 1990
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY COMMISSIONER LANDLORD IN PROGRAM ADMINISTERED
BY CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY
To: Carl V.M. Coffin, West Palm Beach City Attorney
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a city commissioner to participate as a landlord in a federal housing program administered by the city housing authority. The housing authority is a separate agency from the city and is not subject to the regulation of, or doing business with, the city under Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes. Nor would a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest be created under this provision where the city has no role in the subject program.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a city commissioner to participate as a landlord in a federal housing assistance program which is administered by the city housing authority?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry, you advise that Mr. Arthur Bullard is a West Palm Beach City Commissioner. You also advise that he is a landlord in a federal housing assistance program administered by the West Palm Beach Housing Authority. You inquire whether this contractual relationship with the Authority creates a prohibited conflict of interest.
Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, 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 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.
This section prohibits the Commissioner from holding a contractual relationship with an agency which either is doing business with, or is subject to the regulation of, the City Commission. In CEO 81-77, Question 2, we advised that a county commissioner's construction company could bid on the construction of a low-cost housing project proposed by the county housing authority. In that opinion, we noted that neither the power of appointment of authority members nor a cooperation agreement with the county commission indicated that the authority was regulated by or doing business with the commission. See also CEO 83-83. We find the rationale of that opinion to be applicable here, where you indicate that the Housing Authority is statutorily independent of the City and there is no indication of a regulatory or business relationship with the City Commission.
You have directed our attention to CEO 81-87 and CEO 86-60, which found prohibited conflicts where housing authority members or employees participated in authority programs. However, we find these opinions to be inapplicable on the basis that the subject commissioner is not an officer or employee of the Authority and so is not doing business with his agency. In addition, you cite CEO 77-88, in which a county commissioner was prohibited from participating in a federal housing assistance program operated through the county housing assistance office. We likewise find that opinion to be inapplicable because the assistance office there was an entity of the county, whereas the Housing Authority here is an independent entity.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the subject City Commissioner to participate as a landlord in a federal housing assistance program operated by the City Housing Authority.