Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 60
May 2, 2002
Issued By: City Attorney’s Office
Whether a City employee may run for Fiesta Mud Queen.
An employee has asked whether she may run for Fiesta Mud Queen 2003. The following facts are presented:
The Paseo Del Rio is a nonprofit
organization that "promote[s] and support[s] the
A City employee has expressed an interest in
running for the Paseo Del Rio Fiesta Mud Queen 2003. If permitted, the
individual will hold fundraisers to collect monies for the Association. In
addition, the employee will be requesting support from lobbyists and those
doing business with the City. Part A, Section 2 (o)
defines an employee as "any person listed on the City of
Unfair Advantage of Private Interest. Part B, Section 2 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 [ ] herself) any form of special consideration, treatment, exemption, or advantage beyond that which is lawfully available to other persons." Representations that an employee’s position with the City provides an advantage to another individual causes the appearance of impropriety and may, depending on the representation, be a direct violation of the Ethics Code.
The individual at issue is employed as a senior executive secretary to a member of the City Council. Among her job functions, she has the responsibility to perform all secretarial and administrative duties, including, but not limited to, screening calls and visitors and maintaining the Councilman’s calendar. Moreover, because of her position, she may interact with individuals seeking business with the City as well as registered lobbyists to, among other things, schedule meetings between these individuals and the City councilman. Provided she neither give favorable treatment to those who support her quest to be Mud Queen, she does not violate this rule. If, however, she represents to any individual that she can provide special consideration to that person based on her position with the City in return for supporting her for Mud Queen, she violates this rule.
Gifts. A gift is defined as "a voluntary transfer of property (including the payment of money) or the conferral of a benefit having pecuniary value, [ ] unless consideration of equal or greater value is received by the donor." Part B, Section 3 speaks to the prohibition on gifts. This section has two rules, as follows: Section 3(a)(1) prohibits an employee from soliciting or accepting any gift that reasonably tends to influence or reward official conduct or that the employee knows is being given to influence or reward official conduct; and Section 3(a)(2) prohibits an employee from soliciting or accepting anything of value from a person or business entity that does business with the City, seeks to do business with the City, or a registered lobbyist.
Section 3(a)(2) has two (2) exceptions to its rule. If the gift is nominal in value or it is a meal greater than $100 at one occurrence, the employee may accept the gift. In addition to these two (2) exceptions, nine (9) other exceptions apply to both Section 3(a)(1) and Section 3(a)(2). One of these nine (9) exceptions is a solicitation for civic and/or charitable causes. (currently codified in Section 2-45(b)(6)). A civic cause is one that is "concerned with or contributory to general welfare and the betterment of life for the citizenry of a community or enhancement of its facilities." Because the monies raised by the individuals vying for Mud King and Mud Queen are used to promote the mission of the Association, including, but not limited to "advocating the preservation of the River Walk’s character and ambiance," these monies are for a civic cause. Therefore, solicitation and/or acceptance of such monies is not a gift prohibited under the Ethics Code.
Representation of Private Interest. Part B, Section 5(b) prohibits
a City employee from representing any entity, other than herself, her spouse,
or minor children, before the City for compensation. Representation before the
City includes actions by word or conduct made to induce either the City Council
and/or City staff to take action on behalf of the outside entity. Because the
City employee is not receiving compensation from the Paseo del
Public Property and Resources. Part B, Section 7 of
the Code prohibits City employees from using "City facilities,
personnel, equipment or supplies for private purposes." Pursuant to
this section, the employee may neither use City of
City employees are governed by the standards
of conduct set forth in the Ethics Code of the City of
However, the employee may not solicit or fundraise for this event using City equipment and/or on City time. The employee must remain cognizant of these as well as all of the standards of conduct under the Code, many of which are discussed in this opinion.
 Currently codified in Section 2-42(n)
 Currently codified in Section 2-44
 Currently codified in Section 2-45
 Currently codified in Section 2-45(a)(1)
 Currently codified in Section 2-45(a)(2)
 Currently codified in Section 2-45(a)(2)
 Current language in Section 2-45 (a)(2) reads “meals in an individual expense of $50 or less at any occurrence, and no more than a cumulative value of $500 in a single calendar year from a single source.”
 Currently eleven (11) exceptions
 Currently codified as Sections 2-45 (a)(1) and (a)(2)
 Currently eleven (11)
 Currently codified in Section 2-47(b)
 Currently codified in Section 2-49