CEO 83-45 -- June 16, 1983
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
STATE REPRESENTATIVE EMPLOYED BY COMPANY PROVIDING BUSINESS TAX SERVICES
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a State Representative to be employed by a company which provides services to businesses regarding tax benefits, including benefits provided by Florida law. To the extent that the Representative would be employed by a company which is subject to the regulation of the Legislature, the exemption for legislative bodies provided in Section 112.313(7)(a)2, Florida Statutes, would apply, as the regulatory power exercised by the Legislature would be strictly through the enactment of laws.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a State Representative, to be employed by a company which provides services to businesses regarding tax benefits, including benefits provided by Florida law?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you serve as a member of the Florida House of Representatives. You question whether you may be employed by a company to market several tax advantage programs offered by the company to the business community. One of these programs, you advise, involves the Florida Enterprise Zone Act of 1982, which provides certain State and local incentives and programs for areas of the State designated as "enterprise zones." Section 220.181, Florida Statutes (Supp. 1982), allows an income tax credit for businesses which establish new jobs to employ persons who live in "enterprise zones." This legislation expires June 30, 1986 and, you advise, will be up for reconsideration by the Legislature in 1986.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
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), Florida Statutes (1981).]
When the agency referred to is a legislative body and the regulatory power over the business entity resides in another agency, or when the regulatory power which the legislative body exercises over the business entity or agency is strictly through the enactment of laws or ordinances, then employment or a contractual relationship with such business entity by a public officer or employee of a legislative body shall not be prohibited by this subsection or be deemed a conflict. [Section 112.313(7)(a)2, Florida Statutes (1981).]
Although the company which would employ you may be considered to be subject to the regulation of the Legislature, Section 112.313(7)(a)2 exempts the situation, as the regulatory power exercised by the Legislature would be strictly through the enactment of laws. Nor does it appear that any continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest would arise under the circumstances presented, or that your proposed employment would impede the full and faithful discharge of your public duty.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created by your proposed employment. Regarding the possibility of a voting conflict of interest if the Legislature reconsiders this program in 1986, please see previous opinions CEO 77-129 and CEO 80-7. Because the determination of whether a voting conflict of interest exists in a particular situation depends on the nature and impact of the measure being considered, factors which are unknown at this time, we are unable to render more specific advice. You may wish to request another opinion in the future on this subject.