CEO 76-190 -- October 25, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
EMPLOYEE OF DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OPERATING CHILD STUDY CENTER
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Roger Merriam
A reading consultant with the Department of Education who wishes privately to codevelop, design, and operate a child study center, financed by private funds of those persons receiving its services, is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from such private pursuit. Florida Statute s. 112.313(7)(a)(1975) prohibits a public employee from holding employment with a business entity regulated by or doing business with his public agency. As the proposed child study center neither will be regulated by nor doing business with the Department of Education or with the employee's agency within that department, this prohibition is inapplicable. The statute further prohibits outside employment which will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict with an employee's public duty. As the center will have a full-time director, and as the subject employee's hours spent at the center are arranged so as not to interfere with her public responsibilities, no recurring conflict is perceived.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were an employee of the Department of Education to privately co-own and participate in the operation of a business entity devoted to the study and development of children's learning skills?
Your question is answered in the negative.
The information you have supplied states that a reading consultant with the Department of Education wishes to privately develop, design, and operate a child study center whose purpose is the study and development of reading and learning skills in children. The subject employee would serve as codirector of and consultant to the center. She would share equally in stock certificates with another individual, who will serve as full-time director of the business. The center is to be financed by the private funds of those persons receiving its services, and the hours spent at the center by the departmental employee would be scheduled so as not to interfere with her responsibilities in her public position.
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).]
The first clause of the above-quoted paragraph prohibits a public employee from holding employment with a business entity regulated by, or doing business with, his public agency. As the proposed child study center neither will be regulated by nor doing business with either the Department of Education or the employee's agency within that department, the prohibition is inapplicable. The above-quoted provision further prohibits a public employee from holding private employment which conflicts with his public duty on a continuing basis. Based on the facts before us, we perceive no such recurrent conflict in the proposed employment.
Accordingly, we find no conflict of interest in the proposed participation by a public employee in the operation of a private child study center.