CEO 96-22 -- August 29, 1996
CONFLICT OF INTEREST; SUNSHINE AMENDMENT;
VOTING CONFLICT OF INTEREST
STATE SENATOR CONTEMPLATING BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
WITH DENTAL CARE PROVIDER
To: Mark Herron, Attorney (Tallahassee)
Based upon the rationale of CEO 96-4, the Code of Ethics would not be violated where a State Senator has an employment or contractual relationship with a business entity involved in dental practice administration. The same restrictions discussed in CEO 96-4 would also apply.
Does the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees prohibit a State Senator from becoming employed by or consulting with a dental practice administration company?
Your question is answered in the negative.
By letter you advise that you are seeking this opinion on behalf of Alberto Gutman, a member of the Florida Senate. You represent that the Senator is considering employment opportunities different from those which were addressed in CEO 96-4. He is now interested in consulting with or becoming employed by a publicly traded corporation which is involved in dental practice administration. You relate that this company may enter the dental managed care business, serving as a provider under the Medicaid program and to various HMO=s, PPO=s, insurance companies, and other State-regulated entities. Additionally, the company may apply for a license from the Florida Department of Insurance to operate a prepaid dental health plan.
You represent that health care entities and practitioners are subject to the regulation of the Florida Legislature, as are dental managed care organizations. Additionally, the scope of Florida=s Medicaid program is determined by the Legislature, which funds the program through the general appropriations process. Acknowledging the potential applicability of various provisions of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees which were discussed in our previous opinion to the Senator, you question whether his relationship with the dental practice administration company would compromise any of these constitutional or statutory proscriptions.
We see no basis to distinguish the factual situation presented here from that presented in CEO 96-4. Based upon the rationale of that opinion, we conclude that the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees would not be violated where a State Senator consults with or is employed by a dental practice administration company. The Senator is admonished to conduct himself in light of the restrictions discussed in CEO 96-4, which are also applicable here.
Your question is answered accordingly.
ORDERED by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics meeting in public session on August 29, 1996, and RENDERED this 3rd day of September, 1996.
Mary Alice Phelan