CEO 74-57 -- November 15, 1974
DEFINED TO INCLUDE MEMBER OF THE MINIMUM HOUSING APPEAL BOARD OF BROWARD COUNTY
To: Robert E. Ferris, Jr., Chairman, Minimum Housing Appeals Board of Broward County, Ft. Lauderdale
Prepared by: Gene L. "Hal" Johnson
The Minimum Housing Appeals Board of Broward County is empowered to hear appeals regarding unsafe structures in Broward County and to affirm, modify, or deny building or zoning code citations. These are regulatory, not advisory, powers. Members of the board are thus "public officers" within the meaning of part III, Ch. 112, F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, and must comply with all applicable disclosure and standards of conduct provisions. Financial disclosure laws require the public officer to disclose on CE Form 1 sources of 15 percent or more of the officer's gross income for the preceding taxable year. A law firm is considered to be within the definition of "business entity" as used in s. 112.312(2), F. S. A client who contributes 15 percent or more of the business entity's income and who is within the definition of "business entity" must be listed as a source of income pursuant to s. 112.312(8), F. S. Cf. s. 112.3145(1)(a), F. S.
1. Are members of the Minimum Housing Appeals Board of Broward County within the definition of the term "public officers" as used in part III, Ch. 112, F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, and therefore subject to the financial provisions of the law?
2. Must I, as an attorney, report the name of any client who contributes more than 15 percent of the income of my business on the financial disclosure statement, CE Form 1, question 2?
Question 1 is answered in the affirmative.
As we have stated in previous advisory opinions, the financial disclosure law is designed to reach public officers at every level of state and local government, with few exceptions. Included in the definition of the term "public officer" are "[m]embers of boards . . . however selected but excluding advisory board members." Section 112.312(7)(b), F. S. It has been our determination that an advisory board is one whose duties are solely advisory. See CEO 74-22.
As set out in your letter of inquiry, the purpose of the Minimum Housing Appeals Board of Broward County is to hear appeals regarding unsafe structures in Broward County. The appeals board has "the right to hear evidence presented to it and to either affirm, deny or modify" building or zoning code citations as served. The duty to either "affirm, deny or modify" such citations is of a regulatory nature and is binding in effect. Thus, your board cannot be classified as an "advisory board." Its members are public officers within the meaning of the disclosure law and must comply with those provisions of the act relating to public officers.
Your second question is answered in the affirmative.
A "business entity" as defined in the act means:
. . . any corporation, partnership, limited partnership, proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, self-employed individual, or trust, whether fictitiously named or not, doing business in the state of Florida. [Section 112.312(2), F. S.]
A law firm is clearly within this definition.
The term "source" as defined in the act means "the name, address, and description of the principal business activity of the business entity." Section 112.312(8), F. S. Under this definition of "source," any clients who fall within the business entity definition and who contribute 15 percent or more of your business entity's gross income for the preceding taxable year must be listed on CE Form 1, question 2, a copy of which is enclosed. See s. 112.3145(1)(a), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, supra.