CEO 90-22 -- March 8, 1990
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SPECIALIST
SEEKING TO ESTABLISH PRIVATE BUSINESS OUTSIDE COUNTY
To: Terry Graham, Environmental Specialist I, Baker County Health Department (Macclenney)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were an environmental specialist with a county health department responsible for sewage system inspection to perform soil analyses and site investigations for property owners and developers planning to install sewage disposal systems outside the county and having no interests inside the county subject to the regulation of the health department. Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, would not be violated because the employee would not hold any contractual relationship with a business entity subject to the regulation of his agency.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, an environmental health specialist with a county health department, to conduct soil analyses and site investigations for developers and property owners planning to install sewage treatment systems outside the county?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry and in telephone conversations with our staff, you have advised that you are an Environmental Health Specialist with the Baker County Health Department. Your duties include regulation of private, onsite sewage systems within the County, but you have no jurisdiction outside the County. You propose privately conducting soil analyses and site inspections for developers and property owners who are planning to install sewage systems. However, you would neither do business within the County nor work for any person or company that did work in the County. As part of this business, you would submit the application for installation of a sewage system to the appropriate county health department. You inquire whether your proposed business would constitute a prohibited conflict of interest with your public duties.
The Code of Ethics 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.
This provision would prohibit you from working with a business entity which is subject to the regulation of your agency. In CEO 84-27 and CEO 85-32, we advised that the agency of a health department employee for purposes of the Code of Ethics is that health department. Therefore, you could not perform work for entities regulated by the Baker County Health Department. However, you advise that you would not conduct business within Baker County or work for entities outside the county which also are doing business within the county and would be regulated through your office. On this basis, we find CEO 89-23 to be determinative of your question.
In that opinion we held that a county public health unit employee responsible for asbestos regulation could not perform private asbestos inspections within the county where his agency had jurisdiction, but could work outside the county. In CEO 89-37, we further advised that a county building official could not work outside the county for entities regulated within the county through his office, whether the business he would transact were subject to his regulation or not. Applying these decisions to your situation, you would not be prohibited from doing business outside Baker County, so long as you did not do business with developers or property owners who also have interests within Baker County regulated by your office.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you, a county health department employee responsible for regulation of private onsite sewage systems, to perform soil analyses and site inspections for developers and property owners outside the county who plan to install such systems and have no interests within the county subject to the regulation of the health department.