City of San Antonio, Texas

 

Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 25

 

June 14, 1999

Issued By: City Attorney’s Office

 

Whether a City employee may advertise as a Realtor in the City Beat.

 

A City employee has asked whether he may advertise as a realtor in the "City Beat." The following facts are presented:

 

Thomas Bailey is an employee in the City Attorney’s Office. In his position as an Assistant City Attorney, his responsibilities include, but are not limited to, preparing leases and license agreements and providing legal advice to various City departments.

 

Mr. Bailey is also a realtor in the San Antonio market, a position of outside employment approved by the City Attorney and Mr. Bailey’s immediate supervisor. This employment is approved only if it is done outside his workplace and not on city time. Moreover, any clients Mr. Bailey deals with, are prohibited from working with him on any City business. Mr. Bailey wishes to advertise in the City’s publication, "City Beat." City Beat is a monthly newsletter published by the City’s Office of Community Relations. Advertising in the newsletter is subject to approval by the Office of Community Relations and is open to City employees and local businesses.

 

The issue is whether Mr. Bailey may advertise as a realtor in City Beat given his position with the City. Under the Ethics Code of the City of San Antonio, all City employees, whether part-time or full-time, are required to follow the standards of conduct as set forth in the Code.

 

Improper Economic Benefit. As a general rule, a City employee may not take any official action that he knows is likely to have an effect on, among others, his economic interest that is distinguishable from the effect on the public in general. Should such occur, the City employee is required to recuse himself immediately, refraining from any further participation in the matter, and disclose in writing to the City Clerk the economic benefit. In the instant case, advertising in the City’s monthly publication does not present an improper economic benefit for Mr. Bailey. Because it is open to all City employees as well as local businesses, and because Mr. Bailey, in so advertising, is not taking official action, there is no violation of this section of the Ethics Code.

 

Unfair Advancement of Private Interests. Part B. Section 2[1] of the Code prohibits all City employees from using their position "to unfairly advance or impede private interests, or to grant or secure, or attempt to grant or secure, for any person (including himself [ ]) any form of special consideration, treatment, exemption, or advantage beyond that which is lawfully available to other persons." As stated in the previous paragraph, advertising in said publication is open to everyone. Therefore, should Mr. Bailey advertise in this publication, there would be no violation of unfairly advancing his interests. Mr. Bailey however, would be prohibited from identifying himself as a City employee in the publication. Such an identification, may give Mr. Bailey an advantage over other Realtors who may want to advertise in the publication.

 

SUMMARY

 

City employees are governed by the standards of conduct as set forth in the Ethics Code of the City of San Antonio. Pursuant to said standards, a City employee may not, among other things, use his position with the City to advance his private interests. Under the facts presented, the City employee may advertise his real estate services in the City’s monthly newsletter, "City Beat." He must, however, remain cognizant of the standards of conduct as provided in the Ethics Code in his activities as a realtor in the real estate market.

 

 

 

 

FRANK J. GARZA

City Attorney

 



[1]   Currently codified in Ethics Code Section 2-44