CEO 80-6 -- January 17, 1980
VOTING CONFLICT OF INTEREST
FIRM OF SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER'S SPOUSE DOING BUSINESS WITH COMPANIES CONTRACTING WITH SCHOOL BOARD
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Section 112.3143, F. S., requires a public officer to file a memorandum of voting conflict if he votes upon a measure in which he has a personal, private, or professional interest and which inures to his special private gain or the special gain of a principal by whom he is retained. When a school board member's husband supports their family, whatever inures to his special private gain through his accounting firm also is deemed to inure to her, the board member's, gain. However, measures before the school board which conceivably could affect two businesses which are audited by the accounting firm would not inure to the gain of the firm except in some remote and indirect manner. In these circumstances no voting conflict of interest would be created.
Is a voting conflict of interest created if I, a school board member, vote upon measures affecting companies which are doing business with the accounting firm of my spouse?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are a housewife and a member of the Duval County School Board. Other than your school board salary and some investments in your name, you advise, your husband supports your family. You write that he is a certified public accountant and a partner in a local firm which audits two businesses with which the school board presently is contracting or with which the school board may contract. One of these businesses is the local public broadcasting system station with which the school board contracts for educational television programming. The second business concern is a group of doctors who own real property which the school board is considering purchasing from another person who has an option on the property. In neither case is your husband personally involved with the client. Finally, you advise that you are the beneficiary of your husband's interest in the firm should he die.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
Voting conflicts. -- No public officer shall be prohibited from voting in his official capacity on any matter. However, any public officer voting in his official capacity upon any measure in which he has a personal, private, or professional interest and which inures to his special private gain or the special gain of any principal by whom he is retained shall, within 15 days after the vote occurs, disclose the nature of his interest as a public record in a memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting, who shall incorporate the memorandum in the minutes. [Section 112.3143, F. S.]
This provision requires a public officer to file a memorandum of voting conflict if he votes upon a measure in which he has a personal, private, or professional interest and which inures to his special private gain or the special gain of a principal by whom he is retained. Since your husband supports the family, we are of the opinion that whatever inures to his special private gain through his firm also would inure to your special private gain. In the instant case, however, the measures which conceivably could affect the firm's clients apparently would not inure to the gain of the accounting firm except in some remote and indirect manner. Furthermore, it does not appear that you are retained by any principal.
Accordingly, under the circumstances you have presented, we perceive no special private gain inuring to your husband by virtue of your voting on matters related to the Jacksonville public broadcasting station or the subject land being considered for purchase. Thus, no voting conflict of interest would be created in either of these actions.