CEO 74‑27 ‑‑ October 21, 1974
VALUATION AND DISCLOSURE OF INCOME AND ASSETS
To: Ralph B. Wilson, St. Lucie County Attorney, Ft. Pierce
Prepared by: Gene L. "Hal" Johnson
In listing sources of income as required by s. 112.3145(1)(a), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74‑177, Laws of Florida, and disclosure of assets as required by s. 112.3145(1)(e), F. S., a public officer need not list the dollar amount of each source or asset. While it is necessary to compute total income and total value of assets in order to determine which assets or sources of income meet the percentage requirements for disclosure, the disclosure law requires a public officer to disclose only the sources of income or assets. However, should the public officer choose the alternative disclosure procedure [s. 112.3145(2), F. S.], filing of Federal Reserve Form CB‑110A, a listing of dollar values for assets is required for certain items of information. In financial disclosure, an asset held by the public officer and his or her spouse in the entirety, whether real or personal property, is to be reported at full value as the asset of the public officer. See 17 Fla. Jur. Husband and Wife s. 19, (1958) and Wilson v. Florida National Bank & Trust Co., 64 So.2d 309, 313 (Fla. 1953). In accordance with s. 112.3145, supra, CE Form 1 must be filed by a public officer even if the answers to all statutorily required information are "none" or "not applicable." However, CE Forms 2, 3, and 4 are required to be filed only if applicable.
1. In the listing of sources of income as required by s. 112.3145(1)(a), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74‑177, Laws of Florida, and the disclosure of assets as required by s. 112.3145(1)(e), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74‑177, Laws of Florida, is it necessary to list the dollar amount of each source or asset?
2. Is the total value of an asset held by the entirety to be reported as an asset of the public officer or candidate in accordance with s. 112.3145(1)(e), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74‑177, Laws of Florida?
3. Must CE Form 1, the financial disclosure statement, be filed by a candidate or public officer if the answers to all statutorily required information would be "none" or "not applicable"?
Your question 1 is answered in the negative.
The disclosure law requires a public official to disclose only those sources of income or assets which contribute to his financial position in a significant manner. It is from these sources and assets that the Legislature concluded a possible conflict of interest might arise. It is, of course, necessary to compute one's total income and the value of one's total assets in order to determine which assets or sources of income meet the percentage requirements. However, these dollar amounts and computations are not required to be disclosed.
It should be noted that the Legislature provided an alternate means of financial disclosure in s. 112.3145(2), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74‑177, Laws of Florida, which states in part:
In lieu of any financial disclosure required by the provisions of this section, any public officer or candidate may file a current certified financial statement on a form of the type approved for use by State or national banks in Florida, together with a copy of his latest federal income tax return.
The Ethics Commission has designated Federal Reserve Form CB‑110A for candidates and officers who, in their own discretion, choose to file a certified financial statement. A copy of this form is enclosed. You will note that, if this method of disclosure is selected, completion of items 1 through 17 would result in a listing of dollar values for an officer's or candidate's assets. Apart from this alternative method of disclosure, there are no other disclosures of dollar amounts called for by the disclosure law.
Your question 2 is answered in the affirmative.
An asset, whether it is real or personal property, held by a husband and wife in the entirety is characterized by unity of possession, unity of interest, unity of control, and unity of person. The unity of person is from the common law concept that the husband and wife are but one person. See Fla. Jur. Husband and Wife (1958). In Wilson v. Florida National Bank & Trust Co., 64 So.2d 309, 313 (Fla. 1953), the court stated:
When husband and wife are jointly seized of land they are seized thereof by the entirety . . . : In other words, each owns the whole. (Emphasis supplied.)
"Indeed, the essential characteristic of an estate by the entireties is that each spouse is seized of the whole or the entirety and not of a share . . . . There is but one estate, and in contemplation of law it is held by but one person." 17 Fla. Jur. Husband and Wife s. 19, (1958). Because the characteristic of an asset held by the entirety is such that both the husband and the wife own the whole, we conclude that an asset so held must be included in the public officer's financial disclosure statement at full value.
Your question 3 is answered in the affirmative.
Section 112.3145, F. S., states imperatively that "all public officers and candidates shall disclose" their income by source, any interest they may have in certain business enterprises, debts on which they may have received a preferential rate of interest, and a list of their total assets with certain exceptions. It should be noted that a minimum percentage is included below which these items need not be included. The law also makes certain exceptions as to sources of income which need not be disclosed. By ordering the statute in this manner, the Legislature has indicated its desire that the financial disclosure statement be filed even if the response to each question would be "none" or "not applicable." If the floor percentages are not met, or if the total source of income is excluded, this should be shown simply by placing the word "none" in the appropriate space.
There are practical reasons also which support our conclusion. Without such a filing, it would be difficult for the Ethics Commission to distinguish between those candidates and officers who had complied with the law but did not meet the minimum percentage requirements and those who simply failed to comply with the law.
Although the law requires every public officer and candidate to file CE Form 1, the Statement of Financial Disclosure, the remaining forms: CE Form 2, Disclosure of Clients Represented Before Agencies; CE Form 3, Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest; and CE Form 4, Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest by Public Officers in Voting Situations, need be filed only if they are applicable. If the answers to all requested information on CE Forms 2, 3, and 4 are "none" or "not applicable," the form is not to be filed by the public officer or candidate.