No prohibited conflict of interest exists under Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, where a deputy sheriff works security at a private park/campground in exchange for a camp site. The situation is analogous to a number of our opinions finding no prohibited conflict for law enforcement officers engaged in similar secondary employment. CEO’s 77-79, 78-29, 79-81, and 92-48 are referenced.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where you, a member of a sheriff’s office, work security at a park/campground in exchange for a camp site?
Your question is answered in the negative.
By your letter of inquiry and an additional letter with accompanying information from you to our staff, we are advised that you serve as a major and are designated as the Undersheriff/Chief Deputy of the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office. In addition, you advise, for many years a music park/campground located in the County has hired off-duty law enforcement officers to work security at major concert events at the park, with the park compensating the officers at an hourly rate. Further, you advise that it has been common for officers who own camping trailers to stay at the park "free of charge" during these events. Additionally, in approximately May 2001, you advise, you and the park owner worked out an arrangement whereby you would work events at the park in exchange for a camp site with no money changing hands (a "barter" arrangement). You advise that this arrangement has worked well, that the Sheriff’s Office has no policies or procedures that prohibit such bartering, and that the Sheriff’s Office allows deputies to work off-duty jobs. Also, you advise that many of the Sheriff’s deputies do in fact work second jobs and that a majority of them have worked off-duty security at the park.
Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, the portion of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees (Part III, Chapter 112, Florida Statutes) at issue regarding your inquiry, 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 or she 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 or her private interests and the performance of his or her public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his or her public duties.
We find that the situation you describe is akin to a number of secondary ("off-duty") law enforcement officer employment situations in which we have found no prohibited conflict of interest, and thus that the situation you describe is not conflicting under Section 112.313(7)(a), whether your compensation is via money or barter. See, for example, CEO 77-79 (police officer working off-duty hours as security guard), CEO 78-29 (police officer employed during off-duty hours as security director of corporation located within municipality), CEO 79-81 (trooper escorting oversized loads), and CEO 92-48 (motor carrier compliance officers employed by road-construction firms).
Your question is answered accordingly.
ORDERED by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics meeting in public session on December 4, 2003 and RENDERED this 9th day of December, 2003.
Richard L. Spears
 Prior opinions of the Commission on Ethics are viewable on its website: www.ethics.state.fl.us