CEO 75-164 -- August 6, 1975
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
NO CONFLICT WHERE MEMBER OF CHARTER REVIEW COMMISSION APPEARS BEFORE COUNTY AGENCIES
To: William E. Sherman, Member, Volusia County Charter Review Commission, DeLand
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
CE Form 2, Disclosure of Representation of Clients Before Agencies, is required to be filed only by public officers and candidates for office. Pursuant to CEO 75-163, members of the Volusia County Charter Review Commission are not public officers. A member of that commission therefore is not required to file CE Form 2, as he is not deemed to be a public officer.
Does a conflict of interest exist where I am a member of the Volusia County Charter Review Commission and appear, in my private capacity as an attorney, before county agencies on behalf of clients?
Your question is answered in the negative.
The applicable provision of the Code of Ethics states in pertinent part:
Any public officer or candidate who represents another before his own agency or any agency at the same level of government as his own agency, except in ministerial matters, for a fee or commission shall list the agencies before which he appears, and the name of the client whom he represented, in a quarterly report subsequent to such appearance. [Section 112.3145(1)(c), F. S. (1974 Supp.); emphasis supplied.]
As you can see from the above, the representation of clients before agencies is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics but, rather, must be disclosed on a quarterly basis. However, this section of the law only applies to public officers and candidates for elective office. In a previous opinion of this commission, CEO 75-163, we ruled that members of the Volusia County Charter Review Commission are not public officers within the meaning of that term as found in part III, Ch. 112, F. S. (1974 Supp.), due to the commission's solely advisory nature. A copy of that opinion is enclosed for your information. We therefore conclude that you are not a public officer and consequently are not subject to s. 112.3145(1)(c) by virtue of your serving on the Volusia County Charter Review Commission.
You state in your letter of inquiry, however, that one member of your law firm "represents a small city." Section 112.312(7)(i), supra, includes within the definition of the term "public officer" all city attorneys. Moreover, s. 112.3145(1)(c), quoted above, further provides that "[r]epresentation before any agency shall be deemed to include representation by such public officer or candidate, or any partner or associate of the professional firm of which he is a member and of which he has knowledge." Therefore, while you personally do not appear to be subject to the disclosure of representations provision, other members of your firm may be. If so, such member is required to disclose those applicable representations made by himself or by any other member of the firm.