CEO 94-25 -- June 2, 1994
POST-OFFICEHOLDING RESTRICTIONS; CONFLICT OF INTEREST
COUNTY PUBLIC HOSPITAL BOARD MEMBER CONSIDERING EMPLOYMENT
WITH SIDE-BY-SIDE CORPORATION CREATED BY HOSPITAL BOARD
To: Mr. Richard H. Nash, Member, Sarasota County Public Hospital Board (Nokomis)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a member of a county public hospital board to become employed by or consult with a private, nonprofit corporation after leaving public office. The post-employment restrictions contained in Sections 112.313(9) and 112.3185, Florida Statutes, are inapplicable to members of a county public hospital board. Additionally, the post-officeholding restriction against lobbying one's former agency, which governs local elected officers, is inapplicable since the grandfather provision contained in Section 112.313(14), Florida Statutes, applies to this particular member. CEO 89-36 is referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a member of a county public hospital board, to be employed by or consult with a private, nonprofit support corporation created by the hospital board after leaving public office?
Your question is answered in the negative.
Through your letter of inquiry and in discussions with our staff, we are advised that you presently serve as an elected member of the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board. You are considering retiring from the Board when your term ends in November 1994 and advise that you are contemplating an employment or contractual arrangement with the private, nonprofit corporation which was created by the Hospital Board and which serves as its side-by-side affiliate. You question whether standards of conduct contained in the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees address your post-officeholding interest in this proposed relationship.
Initially, we would point out that Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, which prohibits public officers from being employed by or contracting with business entities doing business with their agencies, would not permit you to be employed by or contract with the side-by-side corporation while you serve on the Hospital Board, since the corporation has extensive business ties to the Hospital Board and would be considered to be "doing business" with the Hospital Board for purposes of Section 112.313(7)(a). See CEO 89-36. Thus, our discussion will focus on a potential business relationship with the corporation after you leave public office.
The Code of Ethics contains several provisions which limit or restrict the activities of public officers after they leave public office. However, the post-employment restrictions contained in Section 112.313(9), Florida Statutes, only apply to certain State employees, members of the Legislature, and statewide elected officers. Because members of the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board are not elected on a statewide basis, the post-employment restrictions contained in Section 112.313(9) are not applicable to you.
There is also a post-employment restriction contained in Section 112.3185, Florida Statutes. That provision prohibits State agency employees from having certain employment or contractual relationships during or after leaving State employment. Again, however, this provision is inapplicable to you as a member of the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board because the Board is not a State agency and you are not its employee.
The only other statutory provision which may be applicable to your situation is Section 112.313(14), Florida Statutes, which provides:
LOBBYING BY FORMER LOCAL OFFICERS; PROHIBITION.--A person who has been elected to any county, municipal, or special district office may not personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the governing body of which he was an officer for a period of 2 years after he vacates that office. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to elected officials holding office as of October 1, 1992, until after their next election. [Section 112.313(14), Florida Statutes (1993).]
This provision would prohibit you from personally representing the corporation before the Hospital Board for two years after leaving office if its grandfather provision is not applicable to you. However, we are advised that you were holding office on October 1, 1992 and have not stood for reelection since that date. Therefore, because you are subject to the grandfather provision, you would not be prohibited from lobbying the Hospital Board on behalf of the corporation after you leave public office.
Accordingly, we find that the Code of Ethics would not prohibit you from becoming employed by or consulting with the side-by-side corporation after you no longer serve as a member of the Public Hospital Board.