CEO 75-132 -- July 25, 1975
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
ATTORNEY SERVING AS SPECIAL EXAMINER FOR SCHOOL BOARD WHERE HIS LAW FIRM EMPLOYS SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER AS A PARALEGAL
To: Allan M. Parvey, Fort Myers
Prepared by: Lawrence A. Gonzalez
Where an attorney is appointed as special examiner for a school board when a member of the school board is employed by the examiner's law firm, no conflict would exist under s. 112.313(5), F. S. (1974 Supp.), on the part of the examiner. The school board member who is an employee of the examiner's law firm would be in conflict, however, as s. 112.313(5) prohibits a public officer from holding employment with an entity which is doing business with the agency of which he is an officer.
Would a conflict of interest exist if I am appointed by the school board attorney as a special examiner for the School Board of Lee County when a member of the school board is employed as a paralegal by my law firm?
This question is answered in the affirmative.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in pertinent part:
No public officer or employee of an agency shall accept other employment with any business entity subject to the regulation of, or doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee nor shall an officer or employee of an agency accept other employment that will create a conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties, or will impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties . . . . [Section 112.313(5), F. S. (1974 Supp.).]
If appointed as a special examiner by the Lee County School Board Attorney, you will become a public officer pursuant to s. 112.312(7)(c), F. S. (1974 Supp.), and therefore will be subject to the above-quoted statute. While this would not, in fact, create a conflict of interest which would prohibit you from serving in this capacity, it would create a conflict on the part of the paralegal with your firm who is also a member of the school board.
In a previous ruling of this commission, CEO 75-4, the term "shall accept" was interpreted to mean "hold" in relation to employment. Therefore, the continuation of the paralegal's employment by your law firm would bring him within the specific language of s. 112.313(5) prohibiting the holding of employment with an entity which is doing business with an agency of which he is an officer.
Based upon this conclusion, we find that acceptance by you of the position of special examiner for the Lee County School Board would create a conflict of interest.