CEO 75-135 -- June 23, 1975
APPLICABILITY TO ELECTED OFFICIALS LEAVING PUBLIC OFFICE AT EXPIRATION OF PRESENT TERM
To: Joseph Nazzaro, City Attorney, North Miami Beach
Prepared by: Carol Ann Turner
Section 112.3145(1), F. S. (1974 Supp.), requires that all public officers file yearly statements of financial disclosure, including the year following the last year a public officer is in office. The penalty provisions of the Code of Ethics, s. 112.322(2), F. S., apply to all persons serving in a public capacity but do not extend to private citizens. Therefore, should a former public official fail to comply with the requirement to file disclosure following his last year in public office, no effective penalty could be imposed upon such person as a private citizen. The intent of the Legislature, however, is that all such persons comply with the law, and cooperation with the spirit of the Code of Ethics is urged.
1. Do the financial disclosure provisions of part III, Ch. 112, F. S. (1974 Supp.), apply to elected officials of the City of North Miami Beach who were in office as of July 1, 1974, when the financial disclosure law took effect, but who did not seek reelection in April of 1975?
2. May a penalty be imposed upon these former officials whose term expired in April of 1975 and who failed to file financial disclosure in 1975 as required by law?
Question 1 is answered in the affirmative.
Enclosed please find a copy of a previous opinion of this commission, CEO 75-32, the rationale of which is equally applicable to your question. Your question is answered accordingly.
Question 2 is answered in the negative.
As provided by law, the commission may determine when violations of the law have been committed by "an official or employee of the state, or of a county, city, or other political subdivision of the state . . . ." Section 112.322(2), supra. The enumeration of persons who may be assessed penalties by the commission does not include private persons, but only those serving in a public capacity. An elected official who returns to private life is not subject to the penalty provisions of the Code of Ethics. We therefore conclude that should an elected official fail to comply with the requirement to file disclosure statements following such official's last year in public office, the Commission on Ethics would be unable to impose a penalty on such person as a private citizen. We can only stress the obvious intent of the Legislature that all persons who serve the public comply with the spirit of the Code of Ethics through filing disclosure forms as required by law.