CEO 88-61 -- September 8, 1988






To:      (Name withheld at the person's request.)




A public officer or employee required to file financial disclosure under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes, must disclose a first mortgage on his residence if the debt owed on that mortgage exceeds his net worth. CEO 76-131 is referenced.




Must a public officer or employee who is required to file a financial disclosure statement list a first mortgage on his home if the amount of the mortgage exceeds his net worth?


Your question is answered in the affirmative.


We have addressed a similar question under the 1976 financial disclosure law in our opinion CEO 76-131, where we reached the same conclusion. Section 112.3145(3)(e), Florida Statutes, presently requires a public officer or employee who must file a statement of financial interests to disclose "[e]very liability which in sum equals more than the reporting person's net worth." A "liability" is defined in Section 112.312(11), Florida Statutes, as:


[A]ny monetary debt or obligation owed by the reporting person to another person, except for credit card and retail installment accounts, taxes owed, indebtedness on a life insurance policy owed to the company of issuance, contingent liabilities, or accrued income taxes on net unrealized appreciation. Each liability which is required to be disclosed by s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution shall identify the name and address of the creditor.


From this definition, it appears that the Legislature intended to include every liability which is not specifically exempted. Since this statutory section is not ambiguous, it must be strictly construed. See CEO 76-131.

Accordingly, we are of the opinion that a first mortgage must be disclosed if the amount of the debt exceeds the disclosing person's net worth.