CEO 86-19 -- February 20, 1986
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY COMMISSIONER ACCEPTING TRIP FROM DEVELOPER WON IN DRAWING
To: (Name withheld at person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a city commissioner to accept an all-expense paid trip for two to London from a local developer which was won in a drawing at the opening of a subdivision of the developer in the City. Although the developer will continue to come before the city commission on matters relating to the development, the trip was won as a matter of chance in a drawing in which members of the general public could participate.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a City Commissioner, to accept an all-expense paid trip for two to London from a local developer which was won in a drawing at the opening of a subdivision of the developer in the City?
Under the circumstances presented, your question is answered in the negative.
Through your letter of inquiry and a telephone conversation with our staff, you have advised that you serve as a member of the Tarpon Springs City Commission. You also advise that recently you won the grand prize, an all-expense paid trip for two to London, in a drawing held by a local developer. The drawing was part of the grand opening of a residential subdivision which was open to the general public. Persons attending filled out cards at the door; the cards were placed in a box, and the winner's card was drawn from approximately 200 entries. Finally, you have advised that the developer will continue to come before the City Commission on matters relating to the development.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees does not prohibit a public official from receiving any gift from an entity which must come before the official's agency. Rather, with respect to the acceptance of gifts, the Code of Ethics provides:
SOLICITATION OR ACCEPTANCE OF GIFTS. -- No public officer, employee of an agency, or candidate for nomination or election shall solicit or accept anything of value to the recipient, including a gift, loan, reward, promise of future employment, favor, or service, based upon any understanding that the vote, official action, or judgment of the public officer, employee, or candidate would be influenced thereby. [Section 112.313(2), Florida Statutes (1985).]
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 (1985).]
Under the circumstances presented, it does not appear that the grand prize which you won is based upon any understanding that your official actions would be influenced. Nor do we find that the circumstances are such that with the exercise of reasonable care you should know that the all-expense paid trip was given to influence some action in which you are expected to participate. Here, the trip was won as a matter of chance in a drawing in which members of the general public could participate.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to accept the grand prize under these circumstances.