CEO 76-212 -- December 16, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
EMPLOYEES OF CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT SELLING FIREFIGHTING EQUIPMENT TO THAT DEPARTMENT
To: J. H. Roberts, Jr., City Attorney, Lakeland
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
A public employee is precluded from acting in a private capacity to rent, lease, or sell any realty, goods, or services to his public agency or to any agency within the political subdivision by which he is employed. Section 112.313(3), F. S. 1975. Accordingly, employees of a municipal fire department are prohibited from privately selling firefighting equipment to that department.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a city fireman to sell firefighting equipment to the city fire department which employs him?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
In your request you have stated that Mr. Roger Castle presently is employed as a fireman by the City of Lakeland. In his off-time, he serves as the local distributor for several brands of firefighting equipment. He wishes to sell equipment to the City of Lakeland Fire Department, and the fire department has given its approval to the proposed sales subject to receipt of this opinion.
The Code of of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part as follows:
DOING BUSINESS WITH ONE'S AGENCY. -- No employee of an agency acting in his official capacity as a purchasing agent, or public officer acting in his official capacity, shall either directly or indirectly purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for his own agency from any business entity of which he or his spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or his spouse or child, or any combination of them, has a material interest. Nor shall a public officer or employee, acting in a private capacity, rent, lease, or sell any realty, goods, or services to his own agency, if he is a state officer or employee, or to any political subdivision or any agency thereof, if he is serving as an officer or employee of that political subdivision . . . . [Section 112.313(3), F. S. 1975; emphasis supplied.]
This provision clearly prohibits a public employee from selling to the agency which employs him. Commission on Ethics Opinion 76-6, referenced in your letter of inquiry, in which we found no conflict where municipal advisory board members were doing business with city agencies other than their boards, is not analogous to the present situation in which a municipal employee wishes to do business with the agency which employs him. See particularly the second full paragraph of the second page of that opinion.
Accordingly, we find that a prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a city fireman to sell firefighting equipment to the city fire department which employs him.