CEO 76-21 -- January 16, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
PUBLIC OFFICER DONATING TIME NOT EMPLOYMENT
To: Curtis L. Mack, Chairman, Public Employees Relations Commission, Tallahassee
Prepared by: Gene Rhodes
Although Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(7)(1975) provides that no public officer may hold outside employment with an agency regulated by his public agency, where a state officer agrees to teach a university course for no compensation, he is not deemed to be "employed" by said university. Therefore, no conflict of interest is deemed to exist in such pro bono teaching.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest exist were I, as chairman of PERC, to teach a course in labor relations at Florida A & M University without pay?
This question is answered in the negative.
Your letter of inquiry advises us that you have agreed to teach a university course during the 1976 winter quarter for which you will receive no compensation. The Public Employees Relations Commission, of which you are chairman, regulates university instructors in that it makes determinations as to the legality of questions involving collective bargaining and the right of faculty members to form or join unions.
The situation which you have described possibly would violate Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(7)(1975), were you to be employed on a compensated basis for your services to FAMU; however, by giving of your time and expertise to the university without compensation, we perceive your anticipated relationship with the university to be more in the nature of a donor than an employee. There being no compensation given for your services, we find s. 112.313(7) inapplicable.
While no other provision of the Code of Ethics appears relevant to the situation you have posed, it is clear from the code's declaration of policy that the Legislature intended to prohibit conflicts of interest wherein public office is used for private gain other than remuneration provided by law. Fla. Stat. s. 112.311(1)(1975). No such case presents itself here.
Accordingly, we find no prohibited conflict of interest in your pro bono teaching of a labor relations course at Florida A & M University.