Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 2009-06
June 12, 2009
Issued By: City Attorney’s Office
May a city employee volunteer to assist a citizen outside of work hours?
During the course of his work for the city, a city employee met an elderly citizen who owned a car that needed repair. The employee was aware that the citizen had no funds to pay for the repair. He has asked whether the Ethics Code would prohibit him from trying to repair the vehicle on his own time and with his own funds.
III. The Ethics Code
Section 2-44 of the Ethics Code prohibits a city official or employee from using his or her official position to unfairly advance or impede a private interest. Subsection 2-44(b)(2) specifies that city personnel cannot enter into an agreement or understanding that official action will be reciprocated by the other person, directly or indirectly. Further, Section 2-49 of the Ethics Code prohibits the use of city resources, including duty time, for private purposes.
There is no indication from this inquiry that this employee is advancing private interest regarding a matter pending with the city, or that he envisions some reciprocation of favors that could affect some matter before the city. Also, the employee has advised that he will do these repairs on his own time and with his own resources.
Under the facts of this inquiry, the Ethics Code would not preclude this employee from volunteering his time and resources to carry out this act of kindness.
The Ethics Code does not prohibit a city employee from volunteering his time and resources to assist a citizen he has met in the course of his work of the city. The city commends this employee for his kindness.