CEO 77-86 -- June 17, 1977
(Reconsidered; see 77-86A)
DISCLOSURE OF INTEREST IN TITLE INSURANCE AGENCY
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Section 112.313(9)(a), F. S. 1975, requires that public officers and employees disclose specified interests held in any business entity which is granted a privilege to operate in this state. Since the business in which a mayor, city attorney, and commissioner are interested is a title insurance company rather than an insurance company (which is specifically mentioned in s. 112.312(14), F. S. 1975) disclosure is not required.
Does the Code of Ethics require disclosure of a material interest held in a title insurance agency?
You have stated in your letter of inquiry and in a telephone conversation with our staff that you are the City Attorney for the City of Coral Springs and that you, Mayor Edward L. Heafy, and City Commissioner Walter Blake each have acquired a material interest in a corporation which will serve as a local agent for several title insurance companies. The corporation will perform as a title insurance agency, writing title insurance policies for the several insurance companies just as a life insurance agent, for example, writes policies for a life insurance company.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides:
DISCLOSURE OF SPECIFIED INTERESTS. --(a) If a public officer or employee of an agency is an officer, director, partner, proprietor, associate, or general agent (other than a resident agent solely for service of process) of, or owns a material interest in, any business entity which is granted a privilege to operate in this state, he shall file a statement disclosing such facts no later than 45 days after becoming an officer or employee or after the acquisition of such position or material interest. The statement shall give the name, address, and principal business activity of the business entity or the fact that a material interest is owned and the nature of said interest. New appointees to public office or new public employees shall file the statement required herein, if applicable, no later than 30 days after their appointment or after the date their employment begins. [Section 112.313(9)(a), F. S. 1975; emphasis supplied.]
The italicized phrase "business entity which is granted a privilege to operate in this state" is defined to include
state and federally chartered banks, state and federal savings and loan associations, cemetery companies, insurance companies, mortgage companies, credit unions, small loan companies, alcoholic beverage licensees, pari-mutuel wagering companies, utility companies, and entities controlled by the Public Service Commission or granted a franchise to operate by either a city or county government. [Section 112.312(14), F. S. (1976 Supp.).]
As the corporation in which each of you owns a material interest will act as an agent for a title insurance company rather than as an insurance company, we find that you need not disclose your ownership of that corporation pursuant to s. 112.313(9)(a), above.
However, please note that since each of you presently must file financial disclosure as a "local officer" under s. 112.3145(1)(a), F. S. 1975, should any of you receive over 5 percent of your gross income during a disclosure period from the title insurance agency, you are required to disclose that agency as a source of income on CE Form 1. Section 112.3145(3)(a), F. S. 1975.