Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 120
Issued By: City Attorney’s Office
May a city official accept a position on the board of trustees of a local university?
A city official has inquired whether the Ethics Code would prohibit accepting a position on the board of trustees of a local university.
III. The Ethics Code
City officials are subject the standards of conduct set out in the city’s Ethics Code.
A. Conflict of
Interest. As a general rule, a City
official or employee may not take official action that they know is likely to
have an effect on the official’s own economic interest or on the economic
interest of a business or non-profit entity for which he serves as an officer.
To have an economic effect, it must be distinguishable from the effect on the
public in general. If the official is required to take some official action
that would benefit his the business or non-profit entity, the official 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 addition, an official must notify his supervisor, in
this case the
B. Unfair Advancement of Private Interests. The Ethics Code prohibits all City officials and 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." Under this section, an official must not use his position to unfairly advance the private interests of a person or entity, or give the impression of such. Failure to abide by this standard of conduct is a violation of the Ethics Code and subject to the penalties therein.
Information. All City officials and
employees are prohibited from using their position to obtain confidential
information for purposes other than the performance of their duties and/or from
intentionally or knowingly disclosing such information gained as a result of
their position. Therefore, should
D. Representation of Private Interests. The Ethics Code addresses representation of private interests before the City. The Code prohibits an official or employee from representing for compensation "any person, group or entity, other than . . .himself, or…his spouse or minor children, before the city."
The acceptance of
a position on the university board, does not
constitute a violation of the City of