FLORIDA STATE CODE OF ETHICS|
(FLORIDA STATUTES - SELECTED PROVISIONS)
112.311 Legislative intent and declaration of policy.
(1) It is essential to the proper conduct and operation of government that public officials be independent and impartial and that public office not be used for private gain other than the remuneration provided by law. The public interest, therefore, requires that the law protect against any conflict of interest and establish standards for the conduct of elected officials and government employees in situations where conflicts may exist.
(2) It is also essential that government attract those citizens best qualified to serve. Thus, the law against conflict of interest must be so designed as not to impede unreasonably or unnecessarily the recruitment and retention by government of those best qualified to serve. Public officials should not be denied the opportunity, available to all other citizens, to acquire and retain private economic interests except when conflicts with the responsibility of such officials to the public cannot be avoided.
(3) It is likewise essential that the people be free to seek redress of their grievances and express their opinions to all government officials on current issues and past or pending legislative and executive actions at every level of government. In order to preserve and maintain the integrity of the governmental process, it is necessary that the identity, expenditures, and activities of those persons who regularly engage in efforts to persuade public officials to take specific actions, either by direct communication with such officials or by solicitation of others to engage in such efforts, be regularly disclosed to the people.
(4) It is the intent of this act to implement these objectives of protecting the integrity of government and of facilitating the recruitment and retention of qualified personnel by prescribing restrictions against conflicts of interest without creating unnecessary barriers to public service.
(5) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state that no officer or employee of a state agency or of a county, city, or other political subdivision of the state, and no member of the Legislature or legislative employee, shall have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect; engage in any business transaction or professional activity; or incur any obligation of any nature which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest. To implement this policy and strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of the state in their government, there is enacted a code of ethics setting forth standards of conduct required of state, county, and city officers and employees, and of officers and employees of other political subdivisions of the state, in the performance of their official duties. It is the intent of the Legislature that this code shall serve not only as a guide for the official conduct of public servants in this state, but also as a basis for discipline of those who violate the provisions of this part.
(6) It is declared to be the policy of the state that public officers and employees, state and local, are agents of the people and hold their positions for the benefit of the public. They are bound to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the State Constitution and to perform efficiently and faithfully their duties under the laws of the federal, state, and local governments. Such officers and employees are bound to observe, in their official acts, the highest standards of ethics consistent with this code and the advisory opinions rendered with respect hereto regardless of personal considerations, recognizing that promoting the public interest and maintaining the respect of the people in their government must be of foremost concern.
As used in this part and for purposes of the provisions of s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) "Advisory body" means any board, commission, committee, council, or authority, however selected, whose total budget, appropriations, or authorized expenditures constitute less than 1 percent of the budget of each agency it serves or $100,000, whichever is less, and whose powers, jurisdiction, and authority are solely advisory and do not include the final determination or adjudication of any personal or property rights, duties, or obligations, other than those relating to its internal operations.
(2) "Agency" means any state, regional, county, local, or municipal government entity of this state, whether executive, judicial, or legislative; any department, division, bureau, commission, authority, or political subdivision of this state therein; or any public school, community college, or state university.
(3) "Breach of the public trust" means a violation of a provision of the State Constitution or this part which establishes a standard of ethical conduct, a disclosure requirement, or a prohibition applicable to public officers or employees in order to avoid conflicts between public duties and private interests, including, without limitation, a violation of s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution or of this part.
(4) "Business associate" means any person or entity engaged in or carrying on a business enterprise with a public officer, public employee, or candidate as a partner, joint venturer, corporate shareholder where the shares of such corporation are not listed on any national or regional stock exchange, or coowner of property.
(5) "Business entity" means any corporation, partnership, limited partnership, proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, self-employed individual, or trust, whether fictitiously named or not, doing business in this state.
(6) "Candidate" means any person who has filed a statement of financial interest and qualification papers, has subscribed to the candidate's oath as required by s. 99.021, and seeks by election to become a public officer. This definition expressly excludes a committeeman or committeewoman regulated by chapter 103 and persons seeking any other office or position in a political party.
(7) "Commission" means the Commission on Ethics created by s. 112.320 or any successor to which its duties are transferred.
(8) "Conflict" or "conflict of interest" means a situation in which regard for a private interest tends to lead to disregard of a public duty or interest.
(9) "Corruptly" means done with a wrongful intent and for the purpose of obtaining, or compensating or receiving compensation for, any benefit resulting from some act or omission of a public servant which is inconsistent with the proper performance of his or her public duties.
(10) "Disclosure period" means the taxable year for the person or business entity, whether based on a calendar or fiscal year, immediately preceding the date on which, or the last day of the period during which, the financial disclosure statement required by this part is required to be filed.
(11) "Facts materially related to the complaint at issue" means facts which tend to show a violation of this part or s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution by the alleged violator other than those alleged in the complaint and consisting of separate instances of the same or similar conduct as alleged in the complaint, or which tend to show an additional violation of this part or s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution by the alleged violator which arises out of or in connection with the allegations of the complaint.
(12)(a) "Gift," for purposes of ethics in government and financial disclosure required by law, means that which is accepted by a donee or by another on the donee's behalf, or that which is paid or given to another for or on behalf of a donee, directly, indirectly, or in trust for the donee's benefit or by any other means, for which equal or greater consideration is not given within 90 days, including:
1. Real property.
2. The use of real property.
3. Tangible or intangible personal property.
4. The use of tangible or intangible personal property.
5. A preferential rate or terms on a debt, loan, goods, or services, which rate is below the customary rate and is not either a government rate available to all other similarly situated government employees or officials or a rate which is available to similarly situated members of the public by virtue of occupation, affiliation, age, religion, sex, or national origin.
6. Forgiveness of an indebtedness.
7. Transportation, other than that provided to a public officer or employee by an agency in relation to officially approved governmental business, lodging, or parking.
8. Food or beverage.
9. Membership dues.
10. Entrance fees, admission fees, or tickets to events, performances, or facilities.
11. Plants, flowers, or floral arrangements.
12. Services provided by persons pursuant to a professional license or certificate.
13. Other personal services for which a fee is normally charged by the person providing the services.
14. Any other similar service or thing having an attributable value not already provided for in this section.
(b) "Gift" does not include:
1. Salary, benefits, services, fees, commissions, gifts, or expenses associated primarily with the donee's employment, business, or service as an officer or director of a corporation or organization.
2. Contributions or expenditures reported pursuant to chapter 106, campaign-related personal services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering their time, or any other contribution or expenditure by a political party.
3. An honorarium or an expense related to an honorarium event paid to a person or the person's spouse.
4. An award, plaque, certificate, or similar personalized item given in recognition of the donee's public, civic, charitable, or professional service.
5. An honorary membership in a service or fraternal organization presented merely as a courtesy by such organization.
6. The use of a public facility or public property, made available by a governmental agency, for a public purpose.
7. Transportation provided to a public officer or employee by an agency in relation to officially approved governmental business.
8. Gifts provided directly or indirectly by a state, regional, or national organization which promotes the exchange of ideas between, or the professional development of, governmental officials or employees, and whose membership is primarily composed of elected or appointed public officials or staff, to members of that organization or officials or staff of a governmental agency that is a member of that organization.
(c) For the purposes of paragraph (a), "intangible personal property" means property as defined in s. 192.001(11)(b).
(d) For the purposes of paragraph (a), the term "consideration" does not include a promise to pay or otherwise provide something of value unless the promise is in writing and enforceable through the courts.
(13) "Indirect" or "indirect interest" means an interest in which legal title is held by another as trustee or other representative capacity, but the equitable or beneficial interest is held by the person required to file under this part.
(14) "Liability" means any monetary debt or obligation owed by the reporting person to another person, entity, or governmental entity, except for credit card and retail installment accounts, taxes owed unless reduced to a judgment, indebtedness on a life insurance policy owed to the company of issuance, contingent liabilities, or accrued income taxes on net unrealized appreciation. Each liability which is required to be disclosed by s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution shall identify the name and address of the creditor.
(15) "Material interest" means direct or indirect ownership of more than 5 percent of the total assets or capital stock of any business entity. For the purposes of this act, indirect ownership does not include ownership by a spouse or minor child.
(16) "Materially affected" means involving an interest in real property located within the jurisdiction of the official's agency or involving an investment in a business entity, a source of income or a position of employment, office, or management in any business entity located within the jurisdiction or doing business within the jurisdiction of the official's agency which is or will be affected in a substantially different manner or degree than the manner or degree in which the public in general will be affected or, if the matter affects only a special class of persons, then affected in a substantially different manner or degree than the manner or degree in which such class will be affected.
(17) "Ministerial matter" means action that a person takes in a prescribed manner in obedience to the mandate of legal authority, without the exercise of the person's own judgment or discretion as to the propriety of the action taken.
(18) "Parties materially related to the complaint at issue" means any other public officer or employee within the same agency as the alleged violator who has engaged in the same conduct as that alleged in the complaint, or any other public officer or employee who has participated with the alleged violator in the alleged violation as a coconspirator or as an aider and abettor.
(19) "Person or business entities provided a grant or privilege to operate" includes state and federally chartered banks, state and federal savings and loan associations, cemetery companies, insurance companies, mortgage companies, credit unions, small loan companies, alcoholic beverage licensees, pari-mutuel wagering companies, utility companies, and entities controlled by the Public Service Commission or granted a franchise to operate by either a city or county government.
(20) "Purchasing agent" means a public officer or employee having the authority to commit the expenditure of public funds through a contract for, or the purchase of, any goods, services, or interest in real property for an agency, as opposed to the authority to request or requisition a contract or purchase by another person.
(21) "Relative," unless otherwise specified in this part, means an individual who is related to a public officer or employee as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, grandparent, great grandparent, grandchild, great grandchild, step grandparent, step great grandparent, step grandchild, step great grandchild, person who is engaged to be married to the public officer or employee or who otherwise holds himself or herself out as or is generally known as the person whom the public officer or employee intends to marry or with whom the public officer or employee intends to form a household, or any other natural person having the same legal residence as the public officer or employee.
(22) "Represent" or "representation" means actual physical attendance on behalf of a client in an agency proceeding, the writing of letters or filing of documents on behalf of a client, and personal communications made with the officers or employees of any agency on behalf of a client.
(23) "Source" means the name, address, and description of the principal business activity of a person or business entity.
(24) "Value of real property" means the most recently assessed value in lieu of a more current appraisal.
112.313 Standards of conduct for public officers, employees of agencies, and local government attorneys.
(1) DEFINITION.--As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, the term "public officer" includes any person elected or appointed to hold office in any agency, including any person serving on an advisory body.
(2) SOLICITATION OR ACCEPTANCE OF GIFTS.--No public officer, employee of an agency, local government attorney, or candidate for nomination or election shall solicit or accept anything of value to the recipient, including a gift, loan, reward, promise of future employment, favor, or service, based upon any understanding that the vote, official action, or judgment of the public officer, employee, local government attorney, or candidate would be influenced thereby.
(3) DOING BUSINESS WITH ONE'S AGENCY.--No employee of an agency acting in his or her official capacity as a purchasing agent, or public officer acting in his or her official capacity, shall either directly or indirectly purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for his or her own agency from any business entity of which the officer or employee or the officer's or employee's spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or the officer's or employee's 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 the officer's or employee's own agency, if he or she is a state officer or employee, or to any political subdivision or any agency thereof, if he or she is serving as an officer or employee of that political subdivision. The foregoing shall not apply to district offices maintained by legislators when such offices are located in the legislator's place of business or when such offices are on property wholly or partially owned by the legislator. This subsection shall not affect or be construed to prohibit contracts entered into prior to:
(a) October 1, 1975.
(b) Qualification for elective office.
(c) Appointment to public office.
(d) Beginning public employment.
(4) UNAUTHORIZED COMPENSATION.--No public officer, employee of an agency, or local government attorney or his or her spouse or minor child shall, at any time, accept any compensation, payment, or thing of value when such public officer, employee, or local government attorney knows, or, with the exercise of reasonable care, should know, that it was given to influence a vote or other action in which the officer, employee, or local government attorney was expected to participate in his or her official capacity.
(5) SALARY AND EXPENSES.--No public officer shall be prohibited from voting on a matter affecting his or her salary, expenses, or other compensation as a public officer, as provided by law. No local government attorney shall be prevented from considering any matter affecting his or her salary, expenses, or other compensation as the local government attorney, as provided by law.
(6) MISUSE OF PUBLIC POSITION.--No public officer, employee of an agency, or local government attorney shall corruptly use or attempt to use his or her official position or any property or resource which may be within his or her trust, or perform his or her official duties, to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for himself, herself, or others. This section shall not be construed to conflict with s. 104.31.
(7) CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP.--
(a) 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 or she is an officer or employee, excluding those organizations and their officers who, when acting in their official capacity, enter into or negotiate a collective bargaining contract with the state or any municipality, county, or other political subdivision of the state; 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 or her private interests and the performance of his or her public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his or her public duties.
1. When the agency referred to is that certain kind of special tax district created by general or special law and is limited specifically to constructing, maintaining, managing, and financing improvements in the land area over which the agency has jurisdiction, or when the agency has been organized pursuant to chapter 298, then employment with, or entering into a contractual relationship with, such business entity by a public officer or employee of such agency shall not be prohibited by this subsection or be deemed a conflict per se. However, conduct by such officer or employee that is prohibited by, or otherwise frustrates the intent of, this section shall be deemed a conflict of interest in violation of the standards of conduct set forth by this section.
2. When the agency referred to is a legislative body and the regulatory power over the business entity resides in another agency, or when the regulatory power which the legislative body exercises over the business entity or agency is strictly through the enactment of laws or ordinances, then employment or a contractual relationship with such business entity by a public officer or employee of a legislative body shall not be prohibited by this subsection or be deemed a conflict.
(b) This subsection shall not prohibit a public officer or employee from practicing in a particular profession or occupation when such practice by persons holding such public office or employment is required or permitted by law or ordinance.
(8) DISCLOSURE OR USE OF CERTAIN INFORMATION.--No public officer, employee of an agency, or local government attorney shall disclose or use information not available to members of the general public and gained by reason of his or her official position for his or her personal gain or benefit or for the personal gain or benefit of any other person or business entity.
(9) POSTEMPLOYMENT RESTRICTIONS; STANDARDS OF CONDUCT FOR LEGISLATORS AND LEGISLATIVE EMPLOYEES.--
(a)1. It is the intent of the Legislature to implement by statute the provisions of s. 8(e), Art. II of the State Constitution relating to legislators, statewide elected officers, appointed state officers, and designated public employees.
2. As used in this paragraph:
a. "Employee" means:
(I) Any person employed in the executive or legislative branch of government holding a position in the Senior Management Service as defined in s. 110.402 or any person holding a position in the Selected Exempt Service as defined in s. 110.602 or any person having authority over policy or procurement employed by the Department of the Lottery.
(II) The Auditor General, the Sergeant at Arms and Secretary of the Senate, and the Sergeant at Arms and Clerk of the House of Representatives.
(III) The executive director of the Legislative Committee on Intergovernmental Relations and the executive director and deputy executive director of the Commission on Ethics.
(IV) An executive director, staff director, or deputy staff director of each joint committee, standing committee, or select committee of the Legislature; an executive director, staff director, executive assistant, analyst, or attorney of the Office of the President of the Senate, the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Senate Majority Party Office, Senate Minority Party Office, House Majority Party Office, or House Minority Party Office; or any person, hired on a contractual basis, having the power normally conferred upon such persons, by whatever title.
(V) The Chancellor and Vice Chancellors of the State University System; the general counsel to the Board of Regents; and the president, vice presidents, and deans of each state university.
(VI) Any person having the power normally conferred upon the positions referenced in this sub-subparagraph.
b. "Appointed state officer" means any member of an appointive board, commission, committee, council, or authority of the executive or legislative branch of state government whose powers, jurisdiction, and authority are not solely advisory and include the final determination or adjudication of any personal or property rights, duties, or obligations, other than those relative to its internal operations.
c. "State agency" means an entity of the legislative, executive, or judicial branch of state government over which the Legislature exercises plenary budgetary and statutory control.
3. No member of the Legislature, appointed state officer, or statewide elected officer shall personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the government body or agency of which the individual was an officer or member for a period of 2 years following vacation of office. No member of the Legislature shall personally represent another person or entity for compensation during his or her term of office before any state agency other than judicial tribunals or in settlement negotiations after the filing of a lawsuit.
4. No agency employee shall personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the agency with which he or she was employed for a period of 2 years following vacation of position, unless employed by another agency of state government.
5. Any person violating this paragraph shall be subject to the penalties provided in s. 112.317 and a civil penalty of an amount equal to the compensation which the person receives for the prohibited conduct.
6. This paragraph is not applicable to:
a. A person employed by the Legislature or other agency prior to July 1, 1989;
b. A person who was employed by the Legislature or other agency on July 1, 1989, whether or not the person was a defined employee on July 1, 1989;
c. A person who was a defined employee of the State University System or the Public Service Commission who held such employment on December 31, 1994;
d. A person who has reached normal retirement age as defined in s. 121.021(29), and who has retired under the provisions of chapter 121 by July 1, 1991; or
e. Any appointed state officer whose term of office began before January 1, 1995, unless reappointed to that office on or after January 1, 1995.
(b) In addition to the provisions of this part which are applicable to legislators and legislative employees by virtue of their being public officers or employees, the conduct of members of the Legislature and legislative employees shall be governed by the ethical standards provided in the respective rules of the Senate or House of Representatives which are not in conflict herewith.
(10) EMPLOYEES HOLDING OFFICE.--
(a) No employee of a state agency or of a county, municipality, special taxing district, or other political subdivision of the state shall hold office as a member of the governing board, council, commission, or authority, by whatever name known, which is his or her employer while, at the same time, continuing as an employee of such employer.
(b) The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to any person holding office in violation of such provisions on the effective date of this act. However, such a person shall surrender his or her conflicting employment prior to seeking reelection or accepting reappointment to office.
(11) PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING BOARD MEMBERS.--No officer, director, or administrator of a Florida state, county, or regional professional or occupational organization or association, while holding such position, shall be eligible to serve as a member of a state examining or licensing board for the profession or occupation.
(12) EXEMPTION.--The requirements of subsections (3) and (7) as they pertain to persons serving on advisory boards may be waived in a particular instance by the body which appointed the person to the advisory board, upon a full disclosure of the transaction or relationship to the appointing body prior to the waiver and an affirmative vote in favor of waiver by two-thirds vote of that body. In instances in which appointment to the advisory board is made by an individual, waiver may be effected, after public hearing, by a determination by the appointing person and full disclosure of the transaction or relationship by the appointee to the appointing person. In addition, no person shall be held in violation of subsection (3) or subsection (7) if:
(a) Within a city or county the business is transacted under a rotation system whereby the business transactions are rotated among all qualified suppliers of the goods or services within the city or county.
(b) The business is awarded under a system of sealed, competitive bidding to the lowest or best bidder and:
1. The official or the official's spouse or child has in no way participated in the determination of the bid specifications or the determination of the lowest or best bidder;
2. The official or the official's spouse or child has in no way used or attempted to use the official's influence to persuade the agency or any personnel thereof to enter such a contract other than by the mere submission of the bid; and
3. The official, prior to or at the time of the submission of the bid, has filed a statement with the Department of State, if the official is a state officer or employee, or with the supervisor of elections of the county in which the agency has its principal office, if the official is an officer or employee of a political subdivision, disclosing the official's interest, or the interest of the official's spouse or child, and the nature of the intended business.
(c) The purchase or sale is for legal advertising in a newspaper, for any utilities service, or for passage on a common carrier.
(d) An emergency purchase or contract which would otherwise violate a provision of subsection (3) or subsection (7) must be made in order to protect the health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of the state or any political subdivision thereof.
(e) The business entity involved is the only source of supply within the political subdivision of the officer or employee and there is full disclosure by the officer or employee of his or her interest in the business entity to the governing body of the political subdivision prior to the purchase, rental, sale, leasing, or other business being transacted.
(f) The total amount of the transactions in the aggregate between the business entity and the agency does not exceed $500 per calendar year.
(g) The fact that a county or municipal officer or member of a public board or body, including a district school officer or an officer of any district within a county, is a stockholder, officer, or director of a bank will not bar such bank from qualifying as a depository of funds coming under the jurisdiction of any such public board or body, provided it appears in the records of the agency that the governing body of the agency has determined that such officer or member of a public board or body has not favored such bank over other qualified banks.
(h) The transaction is made pursuant to s. 240.229 or s. 240.241 and is specifically approved by the president and the Chancellor. The Chancellor shall submit to the Governor and the Legislature by March 1 of each year a report of the transactions approved pursuant to this paragraph during the preceding year.
(i) The public officer or employee purchases in a private capacity goods or services, at a price and upon terms available to similarly situated members of the general public, from a business entity which is doing business with his or her agency.
(j) The public officer or employee in a private capacity purchases goods or services from a business entity which is subject to the regulation of his or her agency and:
1. The price and terms of the transaction are available to similarly situated members of the general public; and
2. The officer or employee makes full disclosure of the relationship to the agency head or governing body prior to the transaction.
(13) COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL ORDINANCES AND SPECIAL DISTRICT AND SCHOOL DISTRICT RESOLUTIONS REGULATING FORMER OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES.--The governing body of any county or municipality may adopt an ordinance and the governing body of any special district or school district may adopt a resolution providing that an appointed county, municipal, special district, or school district officer or a county, municipal, special district, or school district employee may not personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the government body or agency of which the individual was an officer or employee for a period of 2 years following vacation of office or termination of employment, except for the purposes of collective bargaining. Nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit such ordinance or resolution.
(14) LOBBYING BY FORMER LOCAL OFFICERS; PROHIBITION.--A person who has been elected to any county, municipal, special district, or school district office may not personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the governing body of which the person was an officer for a period of 2 years after vacating that office. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to elected officers holding office as of October 1, 1992, until after their next election, and shall not apply to elected officers of school districts holding office on January 1, 1995, until after their next election.
(15) ADDITIONAL EXEMPTION.--No elected public officer shall be held in violation of subsection (7) if the officer maintains an employment relationship with an entity which is currently a tax-exempt organization under s. 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code and which contracts with or otherwise enters into a business relationship with the officer's agency and:
(a) The officer's employment is not directly or indirectly compensated as a result of such contract or business relationship;
(b) The officer has in no way participated in the agency's decision to contract or to enter into the business relationship with his or her employer, whether by participating in discussion at the meeting, by communicating with officers or employees of the agency, or otherwise; and
(c) The officer abstains from voting on any matter which may come before the agency involving the officer's employer, publicly states to the assembly the nature of the officer's interest in the matter from which he or she is abstaining, and files a written memorandum as provided in s. 112.3143.
(16) LOCAL GOVERNMENT ATTORNEYS.--
(a) For the purposes of this section, "local government attorney" means any individual who routinely serves as the attorney for a unit of local government. The term shall not include any person who renders legal services to a unit of local government pursuant to contract limited to a specific issue or subject, to specific litigation, or to a specific administrative proceeding. For the purposes of this section, "unit of local government" includes, but is not limited to, municipalities, counties, and special districts.
(b) It shall not constitute a violation of subsection (3) or subsection (7) for a unit of local government to contract with a law firm, operating as either a partnership or a professional association, or in any combination thereof, or with a local government attorney who is a member of or is otherwise associated with the law firm, to provide any or all legal services to the unit of local government, so long as the local government attorney is not a full-time employee or member of the governing body of the unit of local government. However, the standards of conduct as provided in subsections (2), (4), (5), (6), and (8) shall apply to any person who serves as a local government attorney.
(c) No local government attorney or law firm in which the local government attorney is a member, partner, or employee shall represent a private individual or entity before the unit of local government to which the local government attorney provides legal services. A local government attorney whose contract with the unit of local government does not include provisions that authorize or mandate the use of the law firm of the local government attorney to complete legal services for the unit of local government shall not recommend or otherwise refer legal work to that attorney's law firm to be completed for the unit of local government.
112.3135 Restriction on employment of relatives.
(1) In this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) "Agency" means:
1. A state agency, except an institution under the jurisdiction of the Division of Universities of the Department of Education;
2. An office, agency, or other establishment in the legislative branch;
3. An office, agency, or other establishment in the judicial branch;
4. A county;
5. A city; and
6. Any other political subdivision of the state, except a district school board or community college district.
(b) "Collegial body" means a governmental entity marked by power or authority vested equally in each of a number of colleagues.
(c) "Public official" means an officer, including a member of the Legislature, the Governor, and a member of the Cabinet, or an employee of an agency in whom is vested the authority by law, rule, or regulation, or to whom the authority has been delegated, to appoint, employ, promote, or advance individuals or to recommend individuals for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement in connection with employment in an agency, including the authority as a member of a collegial body to vote on the appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement of individuals.
(d) "Relative," for purposes of this section only, with respect to a public official, means an individual who is related to the public official as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister.
(2)(a) A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, or advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a position in the agency in which the official is serving or over which the official exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official. An individual may not be appointed, employed, promoted, or advanced in or to a position in an agency if such appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement has been advocated by a public official, serving in or exercising jurisdiction or control over the agency, who is a relative of the individual or if such appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement is made by a collegial body of which a relative of the individual is a member. However, this subsection shall not apply to appointments to boards other than those with land-planning or zoning responsibilities in those municipalities with less than 35,000 population. This subsection does not apply to persons serving in a volunteer capacity who provide emergency medical, firefighting, or police services. Such persons may receive, without losing their volunteer status, reimbursements for the costs of any training they get relating to the provision of volunteer emergency medical, firefighting, or police services and payment for any incidental expenses relating to those services that they provide.
(b) Mere approval of budgets shall not be sufficient to constitute "jurisdiction or control" for the purposes of this section.
(3) An agency may prescribe regulations authorizing the temporary employment, in the event of an emergency as defined in s. 252.34(3), of individuals whose employment would be otherwise prohibited by this section.
(4) Legislators' relatives may be employed as pages or messengers during legislative sessions.
112.3143 Voting conflicts.
(1) As used in this section:
(a) "Public officer" includes any person elected or appointed to hold office in any agency, including any person serving on an advisory body.
(b) "Relative" means any father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law.
(2) No state public officer is prohibited from voting in an official capacity on any matter. However, any state public officer voting in an official capacity upon any measure which would inure to the officer's special private gain or loss; which he or she knows would inure to the special private gain or loss of any principal by whom the officer is retained or to the parent organization or subsidiary of a corporate principal by which the officer is retained; or which the officer knows would inure to the special private gain or loss of a relative or business associate of the public officer shall, within 15 days after the vote occurs, disclose the nature of his or her interest as a public record in a memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting, who shall incorporate the memorandum in the minutes.
(3)(a) No county, municipal, or other local public officer shall vote in an official capacity upon any measure which would inure to his or her special private gain or loss; which he or she knows would inure to the special private gain or loss of any principal by whom he or she is retained or to the parent organization or subsidiary of a corporate principal by which he or she is retained, other than an agency as defined in s. 112.312(2); or which he or she knows would inure to the special private gain or loss of a relative or business associate of the public officer. Such public officer shall, prior to the vote being taken, publicly state to the assembly the nature of the officer's interest in the matter from which he or she is abstaining from voting and, within 15 days after the vote occurs, disclose the nature of his or her interest as a public record in a memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting, who shall incorporate the memorandum in the minutes.
(b) However, a commissioner of a community redevelopment agency created or designated pursuant to s. 163.356 or s. 163.357, or an officer of an independent special tax district elected on a one-acre, one-vote basis, is not prohibited from voting, when voting in said capacity.
(4) No appointed public officer shall participate in any matter which would inure to the officer's special private gain or loss; which the officer knows would inure to the special private gain or loss of any principal by whom he or she is retained or to the parent organization or subsidiary of a corporate principal by which he or she is retained; or which he or she knows would inure to the special private gain or loss of a relative or business associate of the public officer, without first disclosing the nature of his or her interest in the matter.
(a) Such disclosure, indicating the nature of the conflict, shall be made in a written memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting, prior to the meeting in which consideration of the matter will take place, and shall be incorporated into the minutes. Any such memorandum shall become a public record upon filing, shall immediately be provided to the other members of the agency, and shall be read publicly at the next meeting held subsequent to the filing of this written memorandum.
(b) In the event that disclosure has not been made prior to the meeting or that any conflict is unknown prior to the meeting, the disclosure shall be made orally at the meeting when it becomes known that a conflict exists. A written memorandum disclosing the nature of the conflict shall then be filed within 15 days after the oral disclosure with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting and shall be incorporated into the minutes of the meeting at which the oral disclosure was made. Any such memorandum shall become a public record upon filing, shall immediately be provided to the other members of the agency, and shall be read publicly at the next meeting held subsequent to the filing of this written memorandum.
(c) For purposes of this subsection, the term "participate" means any attempt to influence the decision by oral or written communication, whether made by the officer or at the officer's direction.
(5) Whenever a public officer or former public officer is being considered for appointment or reappointment to public office, the appointing body shall consider the number and nature of the memoranda of conflict previously filed under this section by said officer.
(1) Violation of any provision of this part, including, but not limited to, any failure to file any disclosures required by this part or violation of any standard of conduct imposed by this part, or violation of any provision of s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution, in addition to any criminal penalty or other civil penalty involved, shall, pursuant to applicable constitutional and statutory procedures, constitute grounds for, and may be punished by, one or more of the following:
(a) In the case of a public officer:
2. Removal from office.
3. Suspension from office.
4. Public censure and reprimand.
5. Forfeiture of no more than one-third salary per month for no more than 12 months.
6. A civil penalty not to exceed $10,000.
7. Restitution of any pecuniary benefits received because of the violation committed.
(b) In the case of an employee or a person designated as a public officer by this part who otherwise would be deemed to be an employee:
1. Dismissal from employment.
2. Suspension from employment for not more than 90 days without pay.
4. Reduction in salary level.
5. Forfeiture of no more than one-third salary per month for no more than 12 months.
6. A civil penalty not to exceed $10,000.
7. Restitution of any pecuniary benefits received because of the violation committed.
8. Public censure and reprimand.
(c) In the case of a candidate who violates the provisions of this part or s. 8(a) and (i), Art. II of the State Constitution:
1. Disqualification from being on the ballot.
2. Public censure.
4. A civil penalty not to exceed $10,000.
(d) In the case of a former public officer or employee who has violated a provision applicable to former officers or employees or whose violation occurred prior to such officer's or employee's leaving public office or employment:
1. Public censure and reprimand.
2. A civil penalty not to exceed $10,000.
3. Restitution of any pecuniary benefits received because of the violation committed.
(2) In any case in which the commission finds a violation of this part or of s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution and recommends a civil penalty or restitution penalty, the Attorney General shall bring a civil action to recover such penalty. No defense may be raised in the civil action to enforce the civil penalty or order of restitution that could have been raised by judicial review of the administrative findings and recommendations of the commission by certiorari to the district court of appeal.
(3) The penalties prescribed in this part shall not be construed to limit or to conflict with:
(a) The power of either house of the Legislature to discipline its own members or impeach a public officer.
(b) The power of agencies to discipline officers or employees.
(4) Any violation of this part or of s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution by a public officer shall constitute malfeasance, misfeasance, or neglect of duty in office within the meaning of s. 7, Art. IV of the State Constitution.
(5) By order of the Governor, upon recommendation of the commission, any elected municipal officer who violates any provision of this part or of s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution may be suspended from office and the office filled by appointment for the period of suspension. The suspended officer may at any time before removal be reinstated by the Governor. The Senate may, in proceedings prescribed by law, remove from office, or reinstate, the suspended official, and for such purpose the Senate may be convened in special session by its President or by a majority of its membership.
(6) Any person who willfully discloses, or permits to be disclosed, his or her intention to file a complaint, the existence or contents of a complaint which has been filed with the commission, or any document, action, or proceeding in connection with a confidential preliminary investigation of the commission, before such complaint, document, action, or proceeding becomes a public record as provided herein commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(7) In any case in which the commission finds probable cause to believe that a complainant has committed perjury in regard to any document filed with, or any testimony given before, the commission, it shall refer such evidence to the appropriate law enforcement agency for prosecution and taxation of costs.
(8) In any case in which the commission determines that a person has filed a complaint against a public officer or employee with a malicious intent to injure the reputation of such officer or employee by filing the complaint with knowledge that the complaint contains one or more false allegations or with reckless disregard for whether the complaint contains false allegations of fact material to a violation of this part, the complainant shall be liable for costs plus reasonable attorney's fees incurred in the defense of the person complained against, including the costs and reasonable attorney's fees incurred in proving entitlement to and the amount of costs and fees. If the complainant fails to pay such costs and fees voluntarily within 30 days following such finding by the commission, the commission shall forward such information to the Department of Legal Affairs, which shall bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction to recover the amount of such costs and fees awarded by the commission.
112.3173 Felonies involving breach of public trust and other specified offenses by public officers and employees; forfeiture of retirement benefits.
(1) INTENT.--It is the intent of the Legislature to implement the provisions of s. 8(d), Art. II of the State Constitution.
(2) DEFINITIONS.--As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, the term:
(a) "Conviction" and "convicted" mean an adjudication of guilt by a court of competent jurisdiction; a plea of guilty or of nolo contendere; a jury verdict of guilty when adjudication of guilt is withheld and the accused is placed on probation; or a conviction by the Senate of an impeachable offense.
(b) "Court" means any state or federal court of competent jurisdiction which is exercising its jurisdiction to consider a proceeding involving the alleged commission of a specified offense.
(c) "Public officer or employee" means an officer or employee of any public body, political subdivision, or public instrumentality within the state.
(d) "Public retirement system" means any retirement system or plan to which the provisions of part VII of this chapter apply.
(e) "Specified offense" means:
1. The committing, aiding, or abetting of an embezzlement of public funds;
2. The committing, aiding, or abetting of any theft by a public officer or employee from his or her employer;
3. Bribery in connection with the employment of a public officer or employee;
4. Any felony specified in chapter 838, except ss. 838.15 and 838.16;
5. The committing of an impeachable offense; or
6. The committing of any felony by a public officer or employee who, willfully and with intent to defraud the public or the public agency for which the public officer or employee acts or in which he or she is employed of the right to receive the faithful performance of his or her duty as a public officer or employee, realizes or obtains, or attempts to realize or obtain, a profit, gain, or advantage for himself or herself or for some other person through the use or attempted use of the power, rights, privileges, duties, or position of his or her public office or employment position.
(3) FORFEITURE.--Any public officer or employee who is convicted of a specified offense committed prior to retirement, or whose office or employment is terminated by reason of his or her admitted commission, aid, or abetment of a specified offense, shall forfeit all rights and benefits under any public retirement system of which he or she is a member, except for the return of his or her accumulated contributions as of the date of termination.
(a) The clerk of a court in which a proceeding involving a specified offense is being conducted against a public officer or employee shall furnish notice of the proceeding to the Commission on Ethics. Such notice is sufficient if it is in the form of a copy of the indictment, information, or other document containing the charges. In addition, if a verdict of guilty is returned by a jury or by the court trying the case without a jury, or a plea of guilty or of nolo contendere is entered in the court by the public officer or employee, the clerk shall furnish a copy thereof to the Commission on Ethics.
(b) The Secretary of the Senate shall furnish to the Commission on Ethics notice of any proceeding of impeachment being conducted by the Senate. In addition, if such trial results in conviction, the Secretary of the Senate shall furnish notice of the conviction to the commission.
(c) The employer of any member whose office or employment is terminated by reason of his or her admitted commission, aid, or abetment of a specified offense shall forward notice thereof to the commission.
(d) The Commission on Ethics shall forward any notice and any other document received by it pursuant to this subsection to the governing body of the public retirement system of which the public officer or employee is a member or from which the public officer or employee may be entitled to receive a benefit. When called on by the Commission on Ethics, the Department of Management Services shall assist the commission in identifying the appropriate public retirement system.
(5) FORFEITURE DETERMINATION.--
(a) Whenever the official or board responsible for paying benefits under a public retirement system receives notice pursuant to subsection (4), or otherwise has reason to believe that the rights and privileges of any person under such system are required to be forfeited under this section, such official or board shall give notice and hold a hearing in accordance with chapter 120 for the purpose of determining whether such rights and privileges are required to be forfeited. If the official or board determines that such rights and privileges are required to be forfeited, the official or board shall order such rights and privileges forfeited.
(b) Any order of forfeiture of retirement system rights and privileges is appealable to the district court of appeal.
(c) The payment of retirement benefits ordered forfeited, except payments drawn from nonemployer contributions to the retiree's account, shall be stayed pending an appeal as to a felony conviction. If such conviction is reversed, no retirement benefits shall be forfeited. If such conviction is affirmed, retirement benefits shall be forfeited as ordered in this section.
(d) If any person's rights and privileges under a public retirement system are forfeited pursuant to this section and that person has received benefits from the system in excess of his or her accumulated contributions, such person shall pay back to the system the amount of the benefits received in excess of his or her accumulated contributions. If he or she fails to pay back such amount, the official or board responsible for paying benefits pursuant to the retirement system or pension plan may bring an action in circuit court to recover such amount, plus court costs.
(6) FORFEITURE NONEXCLUSIVE.--
(a) The forfeiture of retirement rights and privileges pursuant to this section is supplemental to any other forfeiture requirements provided by law.
(b) This section does not preclude or otherwise limit the Commission on Ethics in conducting under authority of other law an independent investigation of a complaint which it may receive against a public officer or employee involving a specified offense.
112.3175 Remedies; contracts voidable.
Any contract which has been executed in violation of this part is voidable:
(1) By any party to the contract.
(2) In any circuit court, by any appropriate action, by:
(a) The commission.
(b) The Attorney General.
(c) Any citizen materially affected by the contract and residing in the jurisdiction represented by the officer or agency entering into such contract.