CEO 86-39 -- May 15, 1986
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
STATE REPRESENTATIVE SERVING ON BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF NONPROFIT CORPORATION RECEIVING STATE AND FEDERAL FUNDING
To: Mr. Eugene M. Steinfeld, Attorney for Broward County Legislative Delegation, Fort Lauderdale
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a state representative to serve on the board of directors of a nonprofit corporation which receives state and federal funding to provide services to the elderly. Precedent opinions are referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a State Representative to serve on the board of directors of a nonprofit corporation which receives State and Federal funding to provide services to the elderly?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that State Representative Jack Tobin has been asked to serve on the board of directors of a nonprofit corporation which acts as the board of directors of a county area agency on aging. The sole purpose of the nonprofit corporation and of the area agency on aging is to provide for services to the older population of the county.
You further advise that the nonprofit corporation and the area agency function under the Older Americans Act to operate projects with federal funds allocated by the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, as well as projects which are funded by State grants. In a telephone conversation with our staff, you advised that directors of the nonprofit corporation receive no compensation for their service.
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 (1985).]
This provision prohibits a public officer from having certain types of employment and contractual relationships which present him with a conflict of interest. However, in previous opinions we have advised that noncompensated service as an officer or director of a nonprofit corporation does not constitute employment or a contractual relationship. See CEO 83-70, CEO 82-10, CEO 80-32, and CEO 77-55. In addition, in two opinions, CEO 85-86 and CEO 82-92, we have advised that the Code of Ethics would not prohibit a State legislator from being employed as executive director of a nonprofit corporation receiving State funds.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the subject State Representative to serve on the board of directors of the nonprofit corporation.