CEO 76-33 -- February 13, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
OFFICER PURCHASING AUTOMOBILE FROM COMPANY WHOSE PRODUCT HE PROMOTES PRIVATELY
To: Thomas L. Hazouri, State Representative, District 21, Jacksonville
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
A state legislator who purchases by "balloon" note a new automobile from a company whose product he promotes in his private capacity as a public relations employee does not breach any provision of the Code of Ethics. Such notes are a common business practice and, because the automobile company is properly compensated, the vehicle could not be considered a conflicting gift pursuant to the prohibition contained in Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(2)(1975).
Are any provisions of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees violated where I purchase by "balloon" note a new automobile from an automobile company whose product I promote in my private capacity as a public relations employee?
Your question is answered in the negative.
It is our understanding, based upon your letter of inquiry, that you hold an occupational license to engage in work under the name "TLH Enterprises: Administrative Management and Public Relations." In this capacity you promote the product of Gordon Thompson Chevrolet of Jacksonville.
In a personal capacity you recently purchased a new automobile from Thompson Chevrolet, making a down payment and financing the balance on a "balloon" note. Under this method you entered into an 11-month contract, making monthly payments at a high rate of interest. Within 9 or 10 months you will be offered the options of paying off the balance in one sizable payment, refinancing the balance, or trading the car for a comparable 1977 model and continuing similar monthly payments. We further understand that such "balloon" notes are not uncommon but, in fact, are especially favored by those who choose to trade their automobiles at the end of each year.
The arrangement described above appears to have no bearing on your public position as a State Representative inasmuch as it constitutes a common business practice. We therefore perceive no conflict of interest pursuant to Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(6)(1975). Nor could the automobile be considered a conflicting gift under Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(2)(1975) inasmuch as the client/company is being properly compensated by you.
Based on the facts before us, we find no violation of any provision of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees.