CEO 86-74 -- October 29, 1986
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY PURCHASING MANAGER FORMING COOPERATIVE PURCHASING ORGANIZATION FOR LAWN CARE PROFESSIONALS
To: Mr. James W. "Buddy" Crosby, Purchasing Manager, City of Largo
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a city purchasing manager to form a cooperative purchasing association for lawn care professionals. As the city would not be doing business with the association and as members of the association will not be providing services to the city, Section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes, would not apply.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a city purchasing manager, to form a cooperative purchasing association for lawn care professionals?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and in telephone conversations with our staff, you have advised that you serve as Purchasing Manager for the City of Largo. You also advise that you are considering forming a corporation which would act as a cooperative purchasing association for lawn service professionals. For the payment of a membership fee, members would be provided with information and advice on where to buy lawn maintenance equipment, repair services, and replacement parts. In addition, you contemplate periodically mailing relevant information to the members. The association would represent members in acquiring goods and services but would not make purchases on its own. This work would involve the assistance of your wife and would take place solely on your own time. The association would receive only membership fees, and would not receive any compensation or commissions from sales made to its members or from insurance offered to its members.
You have advised that the City does not contract for its lawn maintenance and therefore would not be doing business with members of the association. The City also would not do business with or through the association. Nor could the City become a member of the association, as the association would be created only for licensed residential and commercial lawn maintenance professionals and would not solicit governmental entities for membership.
Finally, you advised that similar purchases in behalf of the City would be handled by a buyer within the City Finance Department. If a particular item is available through a State contract, the purchase would be made under the State contract. If the purchase exceeds $1,000, the buyer obtains three quotations, assesses them, and issues a purchase order. If the purchase exceeds $7,500, the City Commission awards the contract based upon sealed, competitive bids obtained by the buyer. Although you supervise the buyer, you advised, you do not become involved in evaluating or making recommendations on the quotations or bids obtained by the buyer.
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).]
The first part of this provision prohibits you from having any employment or contractual relationship with a business entity which is doing business with your agency. However, as you have indicated that the City would not be doing business with the association and as members of the association will not be providing their services to the City, this prohibition would not apply.
Section 112.313(7) also prohibits you from having any employment or contractual relationship which would create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict with your duties as Purchasing Manager or which would impede the full and faithful discharge of those responsibilities. As neither the association nor its members will be doing business with the City, we see no basis for a conflict of interest in this respect. Further, although it is possible that the City may purchase from one or more dealers who also sell to the association's members, in our view under the circumstances presented this possibility would not create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict and would not impede the full and faithful discharge of your public duties.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to form a cooperative purchasing association for lawn service professionals.