CEO 82-25 -- April 8, 1982
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
STATE ATTORNEY PERMITTING BROTHER-IN-LAW'S COMPANY TO PROVIDE DENTAL INSURANCE PROGRAM TO EMPLOYEES OF HIS OFFICE
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a state attorney to allow a corporation owned by his brother-in-law to provide a dental insurance program to employees of his office as one of two companies permitted to provide such programs. Although Section 112.313(3), Florida Statutes, addresses the activities of a public officer's spouse and children, it does not go so far as to prohibit the purchase of services for a public officer's agency from a company with which his brother-in-law is associated.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a state attorney, to allow a corporation owned by your brother-in-law to provide a dental insurance program to employees of your office as one of two companies permitted to provide such programs?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advised that you are the State Attorney for the seventeenth judicial circuit and that your office has been approached by several dental insurance companies offering their services to the employees of your office. You also advised that to the best of your knowledge, only two of the programs have been approved by the Judicial Administrative Commission. One of these programs is offered by a corporation in which your brother-in- law is a principal. You question whether it is appropriate for your office to allow both of these approved programs to offer their services to the employees of your office, with each employee being able to take advantage of the program which he or she feels is most appropriate.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides:
DOING BUSINESS WITH ONE'S AGENCY. -- No employee of an agency acting in his official capacity as a purchasing agent, or public officer acting in his official capacity, shall either directly or indirectly purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for his own agency from any business entity of which he or his spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or his spouse or child, or any combination of them, has a material interest. Nor shall a public officer or employee, acting in a private capacity, rent, lease, or sell any realty, goods, or services to his own agency, if he is a state officer or employee, or to any political subdivision or any agency thereof, if he is serving as an officer or employee of that political subdivision. The foregoing shall not apply to district offices maintained by legislators when such offices are located in the legislator's place of business. This subsection shall not affect or be construed to prohibit contracts entered into prior to:
(a) October 1, 1975.
(b) Qualification for elective office.
(c) Appointment to public office.
(d) Beginning public employment.
[Section 112.313(3), F. S.]
Although this provision addresses the activities of a public officer's spouse and children, it does not go so far as to apply to the brother-in-law of a public officer.
The Code of Ethics also provides:
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee . . . ; nor shall an officer or employee of an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. [Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S.]
This provision prohibits you from having any employment or contractual relationship with a business entity which is doing business with your agency. However, this provision is not directed toward the activities of a public officer's brother-in-law.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to allow a corporation owned by your brother-in-law to provide a dental insurance program to employees of your office as one of two companies permitted to provide such programs. You may wish to contact the Attorney General for his opinion regarding the applicability of the anti-nepotism law, Section 116.111, Florida Statutes, to the situation you have described.