CEO 83-72 -- September 22, 1983
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY COMMISSIONER'S SPOUSE EMPLOYED BY CITY AS FIREFIGHTER
To: Ms. Irene Parker, City of Tarpon Springs
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were an individual to serve as a city commissioner while her spouse is employed by the city as a firefighter. As the spouse's employment as a firefighter would predate the individual's election to the city commission, neither Section 112.313(3) nor 112.313(4), Florida Statutes, would be violated.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you to serve as a city commissioner while your spouse is employed by the city as a firefighter?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are considering running for election to the City Commission of the City of Tarpon Springs. You also advise that your husband presently is employed by the City as a firefighter, and you question whether a conflict of interest would result if you are elected to the City Commission.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees contains only two provisions which prohibit conflicts of interest arising out of the activities of the spouse of a public officer or public employee at a local government level. Those provisions are as follows:
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), Florida Statutes (1981).]
UNAUTHORIZED COMPENSATION. -- No public officer or employee of an agency or his spouse or minor child shall, at any time, accept any compensation, payment, or thing of value when such public officer or employee knows, or, with the exercise of reasonable care, should know, that it was given to influence a vote or other action in which the officer or employee was expected to participate in his official capacity. [Section 112.313(4), Florida Statutes (1981).]
We are of the opinion that neither of these provisions would prohibit the situation you have described.
Section 112.313(3) would prohibit you as a City Commissioner from acting in an official capacity to directly or indirectly purchase any services for your agency from a business entity in which your spouse has an interest. However, as your husband would be employed by the City prior to your election to office, and as he would not constitute a "business entity" within the meaning of this provision, we find this provision to be inapplicable. Similarly, as your husband's employment as a firefighter would predate your election to the City Commission, it is apparent that no compensation or thing of value which he would receive could have been given to influence your actions as a City Commissioner.
Accordingly, we find that no provision of the Code of Ethics would prohibit you from serving as a City Commissioner while your spouse is employed by the City as a firefighter. You may wish to contact the Attorney General for his opinion regarding the applicability of the anti-nepotism law, Section 116.111, Florida Statutes.