CEO 75-137 -- June 23, 1975
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
NO CONFLICT IN HIRING CONSULTANT FIRM WITH WHOM DIVISION CHIEF HAS BEEN ASSOCIATED ON NONFEE BASIS
To: Kevin M. O'Melia, Department of Human Resources, Jacksonville
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
Where a division chief of a state agency has been associated in the past with a consulting firm for which no compensation was received, no violation of the Code of Ethics exists where the chief's agency subsequently contracts with the consulting firm to conduct a training program for employees of the agency. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, none of the standards-of- conduct provisions contained in s. 112.313, F. S. (1974 Supp.), are violated by such a transaction.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist in my hiring a consultant with Michael E. Kurtz Associates to conduct a 2-day in-service training program for staff of the manpower division, of which I am chief, when I have in the past done consultant work for Kurtz Associates on a nonfee basis?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you indicate that, as Chief of the Manpower Division of the Department of Human Resources, you wish to hire a consultant from Michael E. Kurtz Associates to conduct a 2-day in-service training program for your staff at a cost of $1,700. You further indicate that you have done consultant work with Kurtz Associates on a nonfee basis, and you are concerned that your relationship with the firm might create a conflict of interest should you contract with Kurtz Associates for the training program.
Section 112.313, supra, establishes standards of conduct for public officers and employees; however, none of the provisions seem to apply to the factual situation you describe. There is no indication of your receiving a gift that would influence you in the discharge of your public duties, as prohibited by subsection (1) of s. 112.313, supra. Subsections (2) and (3) likewise do not appear applicable inasmuch as you neither own a material interest nor hold an office in Kurtz Associates. Under subsection (5) there is no "employment" by Kurtz Associates so as to make this provision applicable. The only subsections which have any potential impact upon the instant case are (4) and (6). In order for either section to be applicable, however, you would have to corruptly use your official position to secure special privileges, benefits, or exemptions for yourself or others or disclose information gained by reason of your official position for personal gain or benefit for yourself or another. In the absence of any evidence provided by you to the contrary, these are circumstances we assume do not exist.
It is therefore our opinion, based on the facts as stated in your letter of inquiry, that no conflict exists under part III, Ch. 112, F. S. (1974 Supp.).