CEO 76-161 -- September 13, 1976
JUDICIAL NOMINATING COMMISSION
APPLICABILITY OF DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBERS
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
The term "local officer" is defined by the Code of Ethics to include an appointed member of a commission of any political subdivision of the state, excluding any member of an advisory body. The Second Judicial Circuit is a specifically defined district within the state (Fla. Stat. s. 26.021), and therefore constitutes a political subdivision pursuant to the definition of that term as found in s. 1.01(9). As judicial nominating commissions are charged with the responsibility of nominating persons to fill vacancies in judicial office, they are not solely advisory within the meaning of s. 112.312(1), as they, in effect, limit the Governor's options. Accordingly, a member of the Second Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission constitutes a local officer and thus is subject to the annual filing of financial disclosure pursuant to Florida Statute s. 112.3145, and to the quarterly disclosure of clients represented before agencies as mandated by s. 112.3145(4).
Were I to accept appointment to the Second Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, would I thereby become subject to disclosure requirements of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
Section 112.3145 of the Code of Ethics requires that each local officer annually file a statement of financial disclosure and quarterly file a disclosure of clients represented before agencies. Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(2)(b) and (4)(1975). The term "local officer" is defined to include
[a]ny appointed member of a board, commission, authority, community college district board of trustees, or council of any political subdivision of the state, excluding any member of an advisory body. A governmental body with land-planning, zoning, or natural resources responsibilities shall not be considered an advisory body. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(1)(a)2.(1975); emphasis supplied.]
The Florida Statutes define the term "political subdivision" to include "counties, cities, towns, villages, special tax school districts, bridge districts and all other districts in this state." Fla. Stat. s. 1.01(9)(1975). The Second Judicial Circuit is a specifically defined district in this state. See Fla. Stat. s. 26.021(1975). Members of the Second Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission consequently constitute local officers unless that body may be deemed an advisory body within the meaning of that term as it is defined in the Code of Ethics.
"Advisory body" means any board, commission, committee, council, or authority, however selected, whose total budget, appropriations, or authorized expenditures constitute less than 1 percent of the budget of each agency it serves or $100,000, whichever is less, and whose powers, jurisdiction, and authority are solely advisory and do not include the final determination or adjudication of any personal or property rights, duties, or obligations, other than those relating to its internal operations. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.312(1)(1975).]
Judicial nominating commissions, established pursuant to s. 11, Art. V, State Const., are charged with the responsibility of nominating not fewer than three persons to fill a vacancy in judicial office which is subject to appointment by the Governor. In making the appointment, the Governor must select one of the commission's nominees. Accordingly, members of judicial nominating commissions give the Governor more than advice. They are, in effect, limiting his options in making judicial appointments and are themselves an integral part of the judicial selection process. We therefore deem members of a judicial nominating commission to constitute local officers subject to disclosure requirements of the Code of Ethics.