CEO 76-134 -- July 26, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSIONER SELLING GAS TO CITY
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Gene Rhodes
A public officer is prohibited from acting in a private capacity to sell goods or services to the political subdivision of which he is an officer. A planning and zoning commissioner who is in the business of selling bulk gasoline is not prohibited from selling gasoline to the city, however, for that commission's duties in no way involve approval of or the giving of advice or recommendations to the city commission as to the purchase of gasoline; nor does the planning and zoning commission itself have any purchasing power. In such instances, primary emphasis is placed on Florida Statute s. 112.316(1975), which provides that it is not the intent of the Code of Ethics to prevent any public official from engaging in private pursuits which do not interfere with the full and faithful discharge of his public duties.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where a member of a city's planning and zoning commission sells gasoline in bulk to the city?
This question is answered in the negative.
Your letter of inquiry advises us that the above-named member of the city's planning and zoning commission is in the business of selling bulk gasoline and for many years has sold to the city. The powers and duties of the commission are confined to zoning matters, and the commission would never have occasion to purchase gasoline. Moreover, the commission has no purchasing power.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees prohibits a public officer from acting in a private capacity to sell goods or services to his political subdivision. Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(3)(1975). However, each provision of the code must be read in light of another section which states:
Construction. -- It is not the intent of this part, nor shall it be construed, to prevent any officer or employee of a state agency or county, city or other political subdivision of the state or any legislator or legislative employee from accepting other employment or following any pursuit which does not interfere with the full and faithful discharge by such officer, employee, legislator, or legislative employee of his duties to the state or the county, city, or other political subdivision of the state involved. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.316(1975).]
This section makes it clear that the Code of Ethics shall not be construed to prohibit a public officer from following any pursuit which does not interfere with the full and faithful discharge of his duties. Each standard of conduct must be read with this qualification in mind. As the planning and zoning commission has no purchasing power, and because its duties do not involve approval of or the giving of advice or recommendations as to the purchase of gasoline, it is our view that a planning and zoning commissioner's selling of gasoline to the city does not interfere with the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. Accordingly, we find no conflict of interest in the above-described situation.