CEO 76-14 -- January 16, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
ACTIVE TRADESMEN ON EXAMINING BOARD
To: Lowell A. Hanks, Mayor, New Smyrna Beach
Prepared by: Gene Rhodes
The section of the Code of Ethics dealing with conflicting employment or contractual relationships, Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(7)(1975), prohibits a public officer from holding any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of or doing business with an agency of which he is an officer. This statute further provides, however, that exception is made where the practice of a particular profession is required or permitted by law or ordinance of persons holding public office. Therefore, there is no prohibited conflict where members of a municipal building trades examining board are themselves active tradesmen inasmuch as the ordinance creating the trades examining board stipulates that its members be engaged in their particular occupations.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where members of a city's building trades examining board are active tradesmen?
This question is answered in the negative.
Your letter of inquiry advises us that the building trades examining board is composed of two general contractors, electricians, plumbers, and mechanical contractors, and one gas installer, architect, engineer, and building official. Nine of these members are presently active in the business community. The examining board is charged with determining that an applicant for a certificate of competency has the qualifications for the examination for which he is applying; with satisfying itself as to the character and integrity of each applicant for a certificate of competency; with conducting hearings upon charges of violations of city building ordinances and suspending or revoking certificates of competency of any tradesmen found by the board to have violated any of these ordinances; with sitting as the board of adjustment and appeals to hear appeals to any ruling as order of the chief building official; and with recommending amendments to the building code.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees states 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 doing business with an agency of which he is an officer or employee excluding those organizations and their officers who enter into or negotiate a collective bargaining contract with any state, county, municipal, or other political subdivision of the state when acting in their official capacity; 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 subsection shall not prohibit a public officer or employee from practicing in a particular profession or occupation where such practice is required or permitted by law or ordinance of persons holding such public office or employment. [Emphasis supplied; Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(7)(1975).]
The above-quoted provision would prohibit the situation you have described were it not for the exemption provided by the italicized language above. As the ordinance creating the building trades examining board requires that its members be engaged in the previously enumerated occupation, such members of the building trades examining board fall within the exception to s. 112.313(7) and, therefore, are not prohibited from concurrently serving on said board and engaging privately in their particular trades.