CEO 88-38 -- June 9, 1988
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY MAYOR WRITING ARTICLES FOR COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest is created where a city mayor writes articles for a community newsletter which is published by a private organization. Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, is not applicable as the mayor has no employment or contractual relationship with the private organization. Also, Section 112.313(8), Florida Statutes, is not violated as the information used by the mayor is a matter of public record. CEO's 88-2 and 86-6 are referenced.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where you, a city mayor, write articles for a community newsletter which is published by a private organization?
Under the circumstances presented, your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and telephone conversation with our staff you advise that you are the elected Mayor of the Town of Indialantic. You further advise that you regularly write articles for a bimonthly community newsletter. This newsletter is published by a private group which hopes to generate support for the development and refurbishment of the Town's commercial district. The group hopes to provide a positive service to citizens through the newsletter by keeping them informed about Town problems. The newsletter will include comments on Town issues and events and provide details as to how elected and nonelected officials and committee members vote on controversial subjects. The newsletter is distributed to all residents and business establishments within the Town. Membership in the organization which publishes the newsletter is currently available through donations which are used primarily for the publication and distribution of the newsletter. You do not have an employment or contractual relationship with the organization which publishes the newsletter, and you are not compensated for the articles which you write.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides:
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 (1987).]
DISCLOSURE OR USE OF CERTAIN INFORMATION. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall disclose or use information not available to members of the general public and gained by reason of his official position for his personal gain or benefit or for the personal gain or benefit of any other person or business entity.[Section 112.313(8), Florida Statutes (1987).]
Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, would not prohibit your endeavors, as that provision requires an employment or contractual relationship to create a conflict. Also, Section 112.313(8), Florida Statutes, would not be violated as you have advised that the information used in writing your articles for the newsletter would be a matter of public record. In previous opinions, we similarly have found no conflict under this statute where information used in publications was a matter of public record and therefore available to members of the general public. See CEO 88-2 and CEO 86-6, for example.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest is created where you, a City Mayor, write articles for a community newsletter.