CEO 87-5 -- January 29, 1987
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY MAYOR SERVING ON BOARD OF TRUSTEES
OF FLORIDA MUNICIPAL LIABILITY SELF-INSURANCE PROGRAM
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a city mayor to serve on the board of trustees of the Florida Municipal Liability Self-Insurance Program and to receive a minimal fee for attending meetings of the Board of Trustees while his city is participating in the self- insurance program. CEO 81-40, regarding a school board member serving as trustee of the Florida School Boards Association Insurance Trust, is referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a city mayor to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Florida Municipal Liability Self-Insurance Program and to receive a minimal fee for attending meetings of the Board of Trustees while the city is participating in the self- insurance program?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that .... serves as Mayor of the City of Bartow and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Florida Municipal Liability Self-Insurance Program. The program allows municipalities, counties, and special districts to pool their liability insurance risks and resources as a group. The Board of Trustees is composed entirely of locally elected officials of its member entities, as required by its bylaws.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
DOING BUSINESS WITH ONE'S AGENCY. -- No employee of an agency acting in his official capacity as a purchasing agent, or public officer acting in his official capacity, shall either directly or indirectly purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for his own agency from any business entity of which he or his spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or his spouse or child, or any combination of them, has a material interest. Nor shall a public officer or employee, acting in a private capacity, rent, lease, or sell any realty, goods, or services to his own agency, if he is a state officer or employee, or to any political subdivision or any agency thereof, if he is serving as an officer or employee of that political subdivision. The foregoing shall not apply to district offices maintained by legislators when such offices are located in the legislator's place of business. This subsection shall not affect or be construed to prohibit contracts entered into prior to:
(a) October 1, 1975.
(b) Qualification for elective office.
(c) Appointment to public office.
(d) Beginning public employment.
[Section 112.313(3), Florida Statutes (1985).]
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).]
In a previous opinion, CEO 81-40, we advised that neither of these provisions would prohibit a school board member from serving as a trustee of the Florida School Boards Association Insurance Trust, a nonprofit self-insurance program which enables school districts to self-insure as a group statewide, if his school district participated in the trust. There, we found that there would be a unity of interest, rather than a conflict of interest, in the school board member's serving as a trustee. On that basis, we found that Section 112.316, Florida Statutes, would operate to "exempt" what otherwise would have been a violation of Section 112.313(3), Florida Statutes.
Here, unlike the situation in CEO 81-40, the Trust desires to pay a minimal attendance fee to its Trustees for each meeting they attend in order to reimburse the Trustees for any inconvenience resulting from having to leave their homes and jobs for meetings. Nevertheless, it is clear that just as in CEO 81-40 there is a unity of interest in the Mayor's serving as a Trustee while his city participates in the self-insurance trust. Therefore, we find that the rationale of CEO 81-40 applies equally here and that Section 112.316, Florida Statutes, indicates that the Code of Ethics should not be construed to prevent the Mayor from serving as a Trustee under these circumstances.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the subject Mayor to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Florida Municipal Liability Self-Insurance Program and to receive a minimal fee for attending meetings of the Board of Trustees while his City is participating in the Trust.