CEO 85-83 -- November 26, 1985
STATE REPRESENTATIVE'S FIRM WRITING GRANT APPLICATIONS FOR MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENTS
To: The Honorable Michael E. Langton, State Representative, District 15, Jacksonville
Article II, Section 8(e), Florida Constitution, would not prohibit the consulting firm of a state representative from writing grant applications for various municipal and county governments. However, the provision would prohibit the representative from personally contacting state agencies other than judicial tribunals in behalf of the firm's clients.
Would Article II, Section 8(e), of the Florida Constitution prohibit your consulting firm from writing grant applications for various municipal and county governments, where you have been elected to serve as a member of the Florida House of Representatives?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that recently you were elected as a member of the Florida House of Representatives. You also advise that you are the owner and president of a public affairs consulting firm which is engaged in the business of writing grant applications for various municipal and county governments. In the past your firm has applied to the Department of Commerce, the Department of Community Affairs, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Environmental Regulation, as well as various Federal agencies, for grant monies in behalf of clients of the firm, which are small cities and counties generally located in northeast Florida.
All grant applications are in the name of the client, you advise, and grant money usually does not flow to the firm. The firm operates under annual contracts with each client and is paid a monthly retainer. Following your election, you intend to continue to own and coordinate the overall direction of the firm and to continue to draw compensation for your services to the firm. However, you will discontinue all personal contact with agencies or bodies of the State which would be prohibited.
Article II, Section 8(e), Florida Constitution, provides in relevant part:
No member of the legislature shall personally represent another person or entity for compensation during term of office before any state agency other than judicial tribunals.
In CEO 84-9 we advised that this provision would prohibit a state representative from personally participating in marketing computer software systems to state attorney and public defender offices, noting that the constitutional prohibition is not phrased in terms of representation of a "client" but rather in the broader terms of representation of persons or entities. In addition, in CEO 81-57 we interpreted the term "entity" to include a governmental entity. However, in CEO 84-21, CEO 82-33, and CEO 81-24 we recognized that the firms of state legislators may do business with State agencies so long as the legislator does not personally represent the firm before the State agency.
Accordingly, we find that Article II, Section 8(e), Florida Constitution, would not prohibit your firm from continuing to write grant applications for municipal and county governments under the circumstances and limitations you have described.