CEO 76-176 -- October 25, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY COMMISSIONER SELLING GOODS TO CONTRACTOR DOING BUSINESS WITH CITY
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Gene Rhodes
Florida Statute s. 112.313(7)(a)(1975) prohibits a public officer from having a contractual relationship with a business entity which does business with his public agency. Ownership of a material interest in a business entity constitutes selling where that business entity sells (see CEO 75-196), and the selling of goods constitutes a contractual relationship. Accordingly, a prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a company in which a city commissioner holds a material interest to sell paint to that city for use in the construction of municipal tennis courts.
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
You inform us in your letter of inquiry that the city commission recently voted to erect 12 tennis courts on city-owned property. The subject city commissioner owns a material interest in a company which serves as distributor for a particular type of paint used on tennis courts. Although the commissioner is your area's only distributor of this leading brand of paint, we understand that it is possible to obtain the paint directly from the manufacturer.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees 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. . . . [Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(7)(a)(1975).]
A public officer thus is precluded from having a contractual relationship with a business entity which does business with his public agency. In our view, ownership of a material interest in a business entity constitutes selling where that business entity sells. See CEO 75-196. Additionally, we view the selling of goods as a contractual relationship.
Accordingly, the city commissioner in question is prohibited by Florida Statute s. 112.313(7) from selling to a business entity which is doing business with the city.