CEO 86-31 -- April 3, 1986
SUNSHINE AMENDMENT; CONFLICT OF INTEREST
STATE REPRESENTATIVE LEASING PROPERTY TO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES
To: Mr. Alvin McLain, Candidate for State Representative, Crestview
A state representative is not deemed to be doing business with his agency in violation of Section 112.313(3), Florida Statutes, where he leases property to the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, inasmuch as the legislator's agency is the Florida Legislature. Nor is such leasing of property in violation of Section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes, as that subsection provides an exemption where the officer's agency is a legislative body which regulates strictly through the enactment of laws. The legislator would not violate Article II, Section 8(e), Florida Constitution, if he renews the lease while in office because this provision expressly prohibits only representing another person or entity for compensation during a term of office.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you to serve as a State Representative while leasing property to the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services or negotiating a renewal of the lease?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are considering running as a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. You further state that you lease a building to the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. This lease runs through December of 1989. You question whether this relationship would create a prohibited conflict of interest should you be elected to the House and whether you may negotiate a renewal of the lease while in office.
In a previous opinion, CEO 77-13, we advised that the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees would not prohibit a member of the House of Representatives from leasing business property to the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. Based on the rationale of that opinion, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created should you serve in the House while leasing property to the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services.
Regarding the renewal of the lease, 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.
The term "represent" is defined in the Code of Ethics as follows:
"Represent" or "representation" means actual physical attendance on behalf of a client in an agency proceeding, the writing of letters or filing of documents on behalf of a client, and personal communications made with the officers or employees of an agency on behalf of a client. [Section 112.312(17), Florida Statutes (1985).]
The plain reading of these provisions expressly prohibits a legislator from representing another person or entity for compensation before the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. However, the prohibition of the Constitution is expressly limited to representing "another" person or entity. Clearly, therefore, you would not be prohibited from representing yourself in negotiating a renewal of the lease for the property in question.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to lease property to the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services while serving in the House of Representatives or were you to renew the lease while in office.