Advisory Opinions - Summaries

This page contains summaries of Advisory Opinions issued since 1993.  (Full versions of opinions dating back to 1978 may be obtained by visiting the Advisory Opinions Index page.)

Any person subject to the Code of Ethics for Public Officials or the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists has the right to request an advisory opinion.  Until amended or revoked, these opinions are binding and, if relied upon in good faith by the requestor, constitute an absolute defense to a criminal allegation of a Code violation.

Disclaimer:  The Advisory Opinions published here are for the convenience of the public only. While every effort is made to assure accuracy, the public is advised that only the original Opinion on file at the Office of State Ethics and the publication of the Opinion in the Connecticut Law Journal are official.

 


 

-2019-

Advisory Opinion No. 2019-1  Application of the Code of Ethics Concerning Conflicts of Interest

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board approved, with one caveat, the steps taken by the petitioner, in her capacity as Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, to avoid conflicts of interest involving her husband, who is employed as the Vice President of Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional Programs for the Connecticut Green Bank. 

 

Advisory Opinion No. 2019-2Application of the Code of Ethics Concerning Compliance with the Code of Ethics for Public Officials

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that Governor Lamont and Governor Lamont's wife, Ann H. Lamont have taken adequate steps concerning their businesses and financial assets in order to better ensure compliance with the Code of Ethics for Pubic Officials, particularly its conflict-of-interest provisions and disclosure requirements.   

 


 

-2018-

Advisory Opinion No. 2018-1  Application of the Code of Ethics Concerning Donations as a Gift to the State

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the expenditures made by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering to administer a Fellowship Program to the General Assembly do not trigger lobbyist registration and services provided by Fellows under the Fellowship Program constitute a permissible gift to the state.

Advisory Opinion No. 2018-2 Application of the Code of Ethics to Certain Employees of the Connecticut Green Bank

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the transition of seven employees of the Connecticut Green Bank to a non-governmental organization formed for the purpose of continuing certain clean energy programs does not violate the “use of office” provision under General Statutes § 1-84 (c) or the post-state employment restrictions under General Statutes § 1-84b (b) and (f).

Advisory Opinion No. 2018-3 Application of the Code of Ethics to Department of Public Health Board Members Engaging as a Private Consultant / Expert Witness

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a Department of Public Health Board member may engage in private consultancy or expert witness work, provided such member meets the four part test set forth in this opinion. 

Advisory Opinion No. 2018-4 Application of the Code of Ethics Concerning Expert Witnesses in a Lawsuit Involving State Employees

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a full-time professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut Health Center may serve as an expert evaluator and witness in a lawsuit--in either his personal or state capacity--provided that he receives no compensation or other financial gain for doing so.

 


 

-2017-

Advisory Opinion No. 2017-1  Application of the Code of Ethics Concerning Conflict of Interest

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the Chair of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority may take official action on matters that may affect the financial interests of her husband, who is employed as a Vice President by the Connecticut Green Bank, a quasi-public agency, provided (1) that she prepares and files a written conflict statement under General Statutes § 1-86 (a), or (2) that the proposed mitigation mechanism has been set in place at, and is adhered to by, the Connecticut Green Bank.

Advisory Opinion No. 2017-2  Application of the Code of Ethics Concerning Use of Office for a Family Member

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that Randy Edsall was a “state employee” as of December 28, 2016, the date he and UConn executed a binding and enforceable employment contract, and thathis subsequent negotiations with UConn concerning his son’s salary (among other things) were therefore impermissible under General Statutes § 1-84 (c); and (2) that § 1-84 (c) prohibits Randy Edsall’s son from being employed by UConn as one of his father’s assistant football coaches.  

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board executed an Order to the Office of State Ethics Enforcement Division Regarding Advisory Opinion No. 2017-2 to refrain from filing, or prosecuting, any ethics complaint during the remainder of the Corey Edsall's one-year employment contract with UConn.  CEAB Order 2017-2

 


 

-2016-

Advisory Opinion No. 2016-1 Application of the Code of Ethics Concerning Post-State Employment

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a retired state trooper may engage in post-state employment as a police officer or constable with a municipality that is provided police services and supervision by DESPP.

Advisory Opinion No. 2016-2 Application of the Code of Ethics Concerning Revolving Door Provisions

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund Advisory Committee is "part of" Connecticut Innovations, Inc., for purposes of 1-84b (b), meaning that the petitioner may not accept a paid position with the latter within one year of leaving her unpaid position with the former.  

     

Advisory Opinion No. 2016-3 Application of the Code of Ethics to Commissioner's Outside Employment

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the Commissioner of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority may accept outside employment as a member of the board of directors of an out of state private corporation because he was hired by virtue of his experience and provided that he adheres to the restrictions discussed in the opinion.

 


 

-2015-

Advisory Opinion No. 2015-1 Application of the Code of Ethics to Legislator's Outside Employment

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a state legislator’s current outside employment, including her continued interaction with the Governor and his staff on behalf of her outside employer, does not present a per se conflict with the Codes of Ethics, but that the legislator must be sure to adhere to the restrictions discussed in the opinion.

Advisory Opinion No. 2015-2  Application of the Code of Ethics to Post State Employment

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a former employee of the Connecticut Green Bank may engage in post-state employment as the head of a private business which will provide funding to projects that have been approved by the Green Bank so long as she abides by the restrictions explained in the opinion.

Advisory Opinion No. 2015-3Application of the Code of Ethics to Post State Employment

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a soon-to-be former state employee of the Department of Education may engage in post-state employment in a position responsible for support of state departments of education, including Connecticut, as the contract between the state and new employer was signed more than one year from the proposed date of resignation, and so long as she abides by the restrictions explained in the opinion.

Advisory Opinion No. 2015-4 Application of the Code of Ethics Concerning the Requirement of Statutorily Created Committees to File Statements of Financial Interests 

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the appointed members of three statutorily created committees—the Bioscience Innovation Advisory Committee, Regenerative Medicine Research Advisory Committee, and Regenerative Medicine Research Peer Review Committee—need not file Statements of Financial Interests because they do not fit within any of the categories of filers listed in General Statutes § 1-83 (a) (1). 

Advisory Opinion No. 2015-5 Application of General Statutes § 1-84 (d) to a Permanent Legislative Employee

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a permanent (full-time) legislative employee who voluntarily reduces his or her work schedule to less than 40 hours and uses compensatory, vacation and/or personal time to cover the remaining hours is not “part-time” for purposes of an exemption to the outside employment restrictions under General Statutes § 1-84 (d) and, therefore, may not make use of the exemption.

Advisory Opinion No. 2015-6 Application of General Statutes § 1-97(c)(2) to Lobbyists

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the prohibition in General Statutes § 1-97 (c) (2)—which bars a lobbyist from “attempt[ing] to influence any legislative or administrative action for the purpose of thereafter being employed to secure its defeat”—is violated only if there is evidence (be it direct or circumstantial) of a lobbyist’s “make-work” intent at the time he or she attempts to influence such action (i.e., intent to be employed afterward to secure its defeat).

Advisory Opinion No. 2015-7 Application of the Code of Ethics to Post State Employment

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a former employee of the Department of Children and Families may engage in post-state employment in a position that would involve contact with staff of the Department of Children and Families without violating General Statutes § 1-84b (b) as she will be performing technical/nondiscretionary work implementing an existing contract between her new employer and her former state agency.

 


 

-2014-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2014-1, Application of the Code of Ethics Contracting with the State

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that General Statutes § 1-101nn (b) does not prohibit a firm from serving as a subcontractor in the construction phase of a State project, even though it served as a sub-consultant in the design phase of the same project, given that it did not contract with the State in the design phase, and assuming that it is not “associated” with the firm that did, in fact, contract with the State in that phase.

ADVISORY OPINION NO 2014-2,Application of the Code of Ethics to Speaker’s proposed outside employment

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Boardconcluded that the Speaker may accept outside employment with Everyone Can Help Out, provided that he does not solicit business from either client or communicator lobbyists, that he is hired by virtue of his expertise (rather than his state office), and that he abides by the limitations discussed in the opinion. 

ADVISORY OPINION NO 2014-3,Application of the Code of Ethics concerning the definition of "communicator lobbyist" and its inclusion of "business organization" for purposes of ad book purchases

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Boardconcluded that a "business organization," as defined in § 1-91(20), is not a "communicator lobbyist," as defined in § 1-91 (22), but that the question of whether a “business organization” may thus make an ad book purchase under § 9-601a (b) (1) (B) must be answered by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

ADVISORY OPINION NO 2014-4,Application of the Code of Ethics to a state legislator's proposed outside employment

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Boardconcluded that a state representative who is not chair of any committee, may accept outside employment with the Cancer Support Community of Southern Connecticut, provided that he abides by the limitations discussed in the opinion. 

ADVISORY OPINION NO 2014-5, Application of the Code of Ethics Concerning Ethics Enforcement Officer Authority

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the Ethics Enforcement Officer does not have the authority in the Evaluation process, wherein there has been a determination of a lack of probable cause, to conclude in a dismissal letter that the employee likely violated the Ethics Code. 

Advisory Opinion No. 2014-6, Application of the Code of Ethics to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Policy Governing Outside Employment of Whiting Forensic Division Psychiatrists. 

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services policy governing private forensic work by Whiting Forensic Division psychiatrists employed by the State or hired as consultants or independent contractors is consistent with the provisions set forth in the Ethics Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2014-7 Application of General Statutes § 1-84b (a)—the side-switching provision—to a former assistant attorney general.

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a former assistant attorney general did not participate “personally and substantially” in a particular health care fraud matter while in state service and is thus not barred by General Statutes § 1-84b (a) from representing a private client in that matter before the Department of Social Services.

 


 

-2013-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2013-1, Application of the Code of Ethics Concerning the Acceptance of an Award

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that because the award was given to the state employee for her overall job performance (rather than for her performance of any specific tasks in her state job), she may accept it, in accordance with Advisory Opinion 92-1, provided that she was not involved in the selection process, and that the award was neither established or funded by persons regulated by, doing business with, or seeking to do business with her state employer.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2013-2, Application of the Code of Ethics Concerning representation of a state legislator by a legislative caucus attorney before the Freedom of Information Commission

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a state legislator who is a respondent in a proceeding before the Freedom of Information Commission is there in his or her official capacity as a “public agency” therefore, he or she may accept State-provided legal representation without violating the Ethics Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO 2013-3,Application of Code of Ethics to Deputy Commissioner of Public Health serving on, and taking official action as a member of, the Board of Trustees of the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (“DPH”) may serve on the Board of Trustees of the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund, even though DPH is soliciting funds from that entity for its programs; and that the Ethics Code does not mandate that she recuse herself from taking official action as a Board member relating to DPH’s proposals, provided that such action would not affect her financial interests or those of certain family members.

ADVISORY OPINION NO 2013-4, Application of the Code of Ethics to a Legislator Invited to Give Keynote Address at Overseas Conference Sponsored by Local Private University

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a legislator who is a co-chair of the Higher Education & Employment Advancement Committee could accept payment of subsistence expenses only (e.g., standard travel, lodging, meals) from a local private university in order for her to give a keynote address—in her personal capacity—at an overseas conference co-sponsored by the university.

 


 

-2012-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2012-1, Application of the Code of Ethics to the Commissioner of Education

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that because the Commissioner of Education has no financial interest in either Achievement First or Amistad Academy, and because neither entity is an “associated” business, he is free to take official action that would affect charter schools generally or those entities specifically.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2012-2, Application of the Code of Ethics to Members of the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that members of the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee (“CBEC”), appointed by judges, are not public officials pursuant to General Statutes §1-79 (k).  CBEC members are not, therefore, subject to the Code of Ethics for Public Officials.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2012-3, Application of the Code of Ethics to the Department of Labor

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that former employees of the Department of Labor may not be retained by their former state agency as consultants through a vendor contract within the first year after their retirement from state service, without violating General Statutes § 1-84b (b).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2012-4, Application of the Code of Ethics to a Members of the Insurance and Risk Management Board

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a member of the Insurance and Risk Management Board may take official action that would financially benefit a subsidiary of his or her employer, because neither the employer nor the subsidiary is a business with which the Board member is “associated.”

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2012-5, Application of the Code of Ethics for Communicator Lobbyists

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the Petitioner is not a “communicator lobbyist,” as defined in § 1-91, if he has registered to lobby but has neither received nor agreed to receive $2000 or more in compensation or reimbursement for actual expenses, or both, in a calendar year. 

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2012-6, Application of the Code of Ethics for Necessary Expenses

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a client registrant may pay a Connecticut state court judge’s “necessary expenses” in connection with the judge’s speech at the registrant’s conference; that the client registrant must file a statement with the Office of State Ethics, within thirty days of payment, if the value of the “necessary expenses” is $10 or more; and that there is no corresponding reporting obligation under the Codes of Ethics for the judge.  (Note:  the judge may have a reporting obligation under the Code of Judicial Conduct.)

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2012-7, Application of the Code of Ethics for Necessary Expenses

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a  staff member accompanying a public official to an event at which the public official is giving a speech may accept necessary expenses pursuant to General Statutes § 1-84 (k), if the staff member is providing essential support to the public official.     

ADVISORY OPINION NO 2012-8, Application of the Code of Ethics to Legislator outside employment

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the petitioner’s role as a ranking member of the Energy and Technology Committee—a role, we note, that he relinquished after accepting employment with NU—did not create a conflict so “significant” as to prohibit him from being employed by an entity subject to the Committee’s jurisdiction.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2012-9, Application of the Code of Ethics for Necessary Expenses

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that only a sponsor of an event to which a public official or state employee is invited in his or her official capacity may pay or reimburse “necessary expenses” pursuant to General Statutes § 1-84 (k).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2012-10, Application of the Code of Ethics for Independent Contractors Hired by a Quasi-Public Agency

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the restrictions in General Statutes § 1-86e do not apply to consultants and independent contractors hired by quasi-public agencies.

 


 

-2011-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2011-1, Application of the Code of Ethics to a DDS Employee Seeking to Complete Postdoctoral Licensing Requirements During State Employment

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a Department of Developmental Services employee may fulfill her postdoctoral licensing requirements in psychology at the place of her state employment.  The employee may also fulfill the licensing requirements during her regular state work hours but only to the extent of the overlap between her established state job duties and the licensing requirements.  Any postdoctoral experience requirements that do not overlap with the established state job duties must be performed outside of the employee's regular state work hours.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2011-2  Application of the Code of Ethics to Cash Contributions from Outside Sources to Support a State Event

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that, under General Statutes § 1-79 (e) (5), the “gift to the state” provision, the Department of Banking could accept a cash contribution from an outside source that would be deposited into a Department account and used to pay for expenses associated with its annual Securities Forum, including paying for Department employees to travel to and attend the state event.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2011-3, Application of the Code of Ethics to an Office of the Attorney General employee

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that an Office of the Attorney General employeemay list his current and/or former state positions on mailings for a project from which he will not receive any financial gain.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2011-4, Application of the Code of Ethics to Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

The Citizens' Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the (1) Petitioner may take official action as to entities with which he had, but no longer has, a financial relationship; (2) besides the bribery prohibition, there are no constraints on contributions his wife’s campaign may receive, nor is he constrained by those contributions; (3) he was entitled to accept an honorarium for his Cleveland speech given that he used personal time and was invited by virtue of his expertise; and (4) he may continue to play a role in the consulting firm with an eye toward ending his connection with it, provided that he abides by the conflict provisions.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2011-5, Application of the Code of Ethics to the University of Connecticut's Division of Athletics

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a Connecticut company is a non-restricted donor for purposes of the Ethics Code, and its donation of a company airplane for use by University of Connecticut’s Division of Athletics representatives and guests to travel in connection with University business constitutes a permissible gift to the state under § 1-79 (e) (5).

 


 

-2010-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2010-1, Application of the Code of Ethics to a Former Department of Public Health (DPH) Employee and a DPH Advisory Committee
The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that an advisor to a proprietary leaching system company (who is not a state employee) may serve on the Subsurface Code Advisory Committee, as Committee members are not “public officials” solely by virtue of membership, and thus not subject to the ethics code.  Additionally, a former DPH employee (a state retiree of more than seven years) may contact DPH staff and recommend changes to DPH technical standards, even though he was involved in drafting them while at DPH, because those standards are not considered a “particular matter” under the revolving-door provisions.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2010-2, Application of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials to Various Boards and Committees Affiliated with the Board of Education and Services for the Blind

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that members of the Board of Directors of the Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) are “public officials,” under the Code of Ethics, and are therefore subject to the Code and its revolving door restrictions.  Members of other BESB-affiliated committees named in the opinion that are established to advise, recommend or consult with a public official or branch of government are not “public officials” solely by virtue of such membership and are thus not subject to the Code’s restrictions, including the revolving door restrictions.  Further, members of these bodies are not prohibited from receiving benefits as clients of BESB by virtue of their service on them.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2010-3, Complimentary Tickets to an Inaugural Ball Offered to Public Officials by the Event's Sponsor

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that public officials invited by the Trustees of the First Company Governor's Foot Guard to attend the Inaugural Ball by virtue of their state positions may accept admission to the event, including any food or beverage provided there, under the charitable/civic-event gift exception in General Statutes § 1-79 (e) (14).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2010-4,Retired State Employee engaging in certain employment.

Application of General Statutes § 1-84b (b) to a Former Department of Transportation Employee Seeking to Work on a Federally Funded Municipal Project. Consistent with § 1-84b (b), a retired state employee may not engage in certain employment until the expiration of the “cooling-off” period.  When a retiree is rehired as a temporary-worker retiree, the cooling-off period commences upon completion of that temporary position rather than the date of retirement

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2010-5, Board of Education and Services for the Blind Board Members and Employees Utilizing Agency Goods and Services.  The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board issues this advisory opinion at the request of Andrew Norton, Legislative and Legal Affairs Director for the Board of Education and Services for the Blind (“BESB”), whose inquiry pertains to the application of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials (“Code of Ethics”) to BESB’s board of directors and employees who receive goods and/or services provided by BESB.  Further, Mr. Norton asks whether a BESB Board member may advocate or vote for an agency decision which would predominantly benefit a class of which he is a member (e.g., blind persons over the age of 55).  The latter question will be addressed in a separate advisory opinion.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2010-6, Further Application of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials to Members of the Children’s Trust Fund Council.The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board (“Board”) issues this advisory opinion at the request of Laura Amenta, chairperson of the Children’s Trust Fund Council (“Council”).  As either a current or a former “public official,” depending on the conclusion reached below, Ms. Amenta (“Petitioner”) is statutorily entitled to petition the Board for an advisory opinion.[1]  At its September 2010 regular meeting, the Board granted her petition.    

Advisory Opinion No. 2010-7, Application of the Code to Potential Conflicts of Interest for Members of the Board of Education and Services for the Blind

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board issues this advisory opinion at the request of Andrew Norton, Legislative and Legal Affairs Director for the Board of Education and Services for the Blind (“BESB”). This is the second of two opinions[1] regarding the application of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials (“Code of Ethics”) to BESB’s board of directors and employees.  Mr. Norton asks whether a BESB board member may advocate or vote for an agency decision which would predominantly benefit a class of which he is a member (e.g., blind persons over the age of 55).

 

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2010-8, Application of Code to Communicator Lobbyist Referral Fee

The Code of Ethics does not prohibit communicator lobbyist [1]. from paying a referral fee for the successful referral of a lobbying client to communicator lobbyist  [2] . It prohibits communicator lobbyist [2] from making the referral and accepting the associated fee only if he also happens to be an individual designated in General Statutes § 1-84 (l) (i.e., a public official, state employee, or person acting on behalf of a public official or state employee). Because communicator lobbyist  [2] will not be lobbying on behalf of the referred client, the transaction need not be documented on a lobbyist financial report.

 


 

-2009-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2009-1, Application of General Statutes § 1-84b (b), a Revolving-door Provision, to Employees of the Office of Consumer Counsel.  (This opinion overturns part of Advisory Opinion 1996-9.)

Connecticut General Statutes § 1-84b (b) is a revolving-door provision that generally prohibits a former state employee, for one year after leaving state service, from representing anyone for compensation before the state agency in which he or she “served” at the time of leaving state service.  In applying that provision to Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) employees, the former State Ethics Commission concluded, in Advisory Opinion 1996-9, that their former agency “is the entire [Department of Public Utility Control], including the OCC.”  Disagreeing and thus overturning that part of Advisory Opinion 1996-9, the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that former OCC employees never “served” in the DPUC, meaning that they are no longer prohibited by § 1-84b (b) from appearing before that agency within one year of leaving state service.  They are, however, still subject to the one-year ban with respect to the OCC. 

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2009-2, Drug Maker’s Communications with the Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Committee to Get a Drug Placed on the Preferred-Drug List

The CEAB concluded that a drug maker, when communicating with the Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Committee to get a drug placed on the preferred-drug list, is “lobbying” unless its communications fit within one of the exceptions to the definition of that term.  In this instance, the drug maker is lobbying because he/she is soliciting others to communicate with an executive branch official for the purpose of influencing administrative action.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2009-3 Application of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials to Workers’ Compensation Commission Hearing Reporters

The CEAB concluded that it is not permissible, under the Code of Ethics, for Workers’ Compensation Commission hearing reporters to use five hours of state-compensated time to engage in creating transcripts for which they are privately compensated by the parties requesting the transcripts.  The CEAB found it irrelevant that a union contract allows for such activity; absent an exception in the Codes of Ethics or elsewhere in the general statutes, the Code of Ethics supersedes a union contract clause that sanctions a Code violation.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2009-4, Application of General Statutes § 1-80 (b) to Members of the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board Running for Local Elective Office.

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that its members, as well as OSE staff members, may not hold or campaign (i.e., be a candidate for) local elective office.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2009-5, Application of Post-State Employment Provisions to Employee of the Office of Ombudsman for Property Rights

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the Executive Secretary to the Ombudsman for Property Rights may, after leaving state service, accept a job with a nonprofit organization that receives state funding, given that she was not involved at all in the negotiation or award of that funding.  Further, the Office of Policy and Management—from which her position at the Ombudsman Office was “borrowed”—would not constitute her former agency for the purpose of the Code’s “cooling-off” provision.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2009-6Routine Gift Exchanges Between Supervisors and Subordinates

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the value of gifts between supervisors and subordinates in state service (limited to $99.99 per gift per § 1-84 (p)), should be determined first by the actual cost to the donor in a marketplace transaction.  If such a transaction did not occur, the value equals the fair market value of the item if the same or similar item were to be purchased in a marketplace transaction.  Should that method not apply, the recipient may use any reasonable method to determine the gift’s value.  If the value of the gift is indeterminable and is not clearly insignificant, (market value of less than $10), the gift is not permissible.

Further, the Board concluded that gifts between supervisors and subordinates, if provided on multiple occasions in separate transactions, shall be considered multiple gifts, each with its own value and $99.99 limit.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2009-7, Application of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials to a Member of the Renewable Energy Investments Board

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a Renewable Energy Investments (aka Clean Energy Fund) Board Member may take official action regarding a loan request, as he has neither a substantial nor potential conflict of interests.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2009-8, Application of the $1,000 Limit to the “Major Life Event” Gift Exception

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the $1,000 gift limit for a major life event applies to the aggregate of all things of value provided by a restricted donor to a public official for the occasion.  For example, in the event of a wedding, $500 could be given at the bachelor party and $500 could be presented at the reception, as the aggregate is in keeping with the $1,000 limit.  On the other hand, it would be impermissible for $1,000 to be given at the bachelor party and $1,000 to be given at the reception, as the aggregate would be $2,000 for one event, thus over the permitted limit.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2009-9, Application of General Statutes 1-80 (b) to a Member of the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board (CEAB or Board) concluded that a CEAB Member’s initial appointment to the Board was invalid, as he held public office in a period three years prior to the appointment.  The CEAB Member’s subsequent appointment to the Board by the appointing authority is, however, valid under the Code, and any actions taken by him in his capacity of CEAB Member prior to this valid appointment are legally binding on those affected by them.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2009-10, OSE’s Jurisdiction to Interpret General Statutes § 4b-4

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board (CEAB or Board) concluded that it has no statutory authority to issue advisory opinions interpreting General Statutes § 4b-4, despite its authority to enforce that section.  General Statutes § 4b-4 places additional outside employment restrictions on employees of the Properties Review Board and some employees in the Department of Public Works.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2009-11, Sitting or Former Member of State Council Seeking Paid Employment with that Council

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board (CEAB or Board) concluded that a sitting council member may not apply for and accept the executive-director position of that council.  Further, a former council member may not apply for and accept such a position for one year after leaving the council.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2009-12, Volunteer Political Activities of OSE Employees and Board Members

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that OSE employees and Board members may, in their personal capacities, provide uncompensated services or volunteer their time for federal, state or municipal campaigns without violating the Code of Ethics for Public Officials (even if the candidate is subject to the Code's provisions).

 


 

-2008-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2008-1, Application of Revolving Door Provisions to Judicial Branch Employees

In Advisory Opinion 2008-1, the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the only revolving door provisions in the Code of Ethics for Public Officials that apply to judicial branch officials and employees are subsections (f) and (j) of section 1-84b.  Those revolving door provisions would not prohibit grievance counsel for a grievance panel, who was appointed and served pursuant to Practice Book § 2-30, from appearing before the Statewide Grievance Committee within one year of leaving that position.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2008-2, Client Lobbyist Reporting Requirements Regarding Necessary Expense Payments to a Public Official

If a client lobbyist pays or reimburses a public official for necessary expenses*, the lobbyist is not required to provide a written report to the public official detailing the transaction in accordance with the notification requirement found in § 1-97 (d).  However, within thirty days of paying or reimbursing a public official ten dollars or more for necessary expenses, a client lobbyist is required by § 1-96e to file a statement with the Office of State Ethics indicating the name of the public official and the amount of the expenses. 

    *“Necessary expenses” are defined as a public official or state employee’s

travel, lodging, meals and conference registration expenses for an article, appearance or speech or for participation at an event in his or her official capacity.  Client lobbyists are permitted to provide such necessary expenses, as are other regulated donors.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2008-3, Application of the Code of Ethics to Board Member-held CHEFA Bonds

It does not constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics for a Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) board member to acquire or possess CHEFA-issued bonds when there is no use of office for financial gain present.  Should the CHEFA board need to take action with regard to the bonds in question or the entities on whose behalf the bonds were issued, the member must, in the case of either a substantial or a potential conflict of interest, recuse himself and submit a written statement to his chairperson or the OSE describing the action and related conflict.  Finally, it is permissible for CHEFA's own ethics policy to be more restrictive than the Code of Ethics; however, the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Baord neither interprets nor enforces other agencies' ethics policies.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2008-4, Caucus Attorneys’ Representation of Legislators Before the OSE

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the Code’s “use of office” provision (§ 1-84 (c)) prohibits a caucus attorney from representing a legislator with respect to an ethics enforcement action.  The provision, however, would not prohibit a caucus attorney from representing a legislator with respect to an informal staff letter or advisory opinion from the OSE.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2008-5, Application of the Code of Ethics to Supervisors and Subordinates who Employ Each Other in Outside Employment

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that it is impermissible, under the Code of Ethics, for a state employee-supervisor to employ a state employee-subordinate in the supervisor’s outside business.  Likewise, it is impermissible under the Code for a subordinate to employ a supervisor in the subordinate’s outside business.  Both situations would involve an impermissible impairment of independence of judgment.  The Board noted that this prohibition extends to all supervisors and subordinates up and down the chain of command.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2008-6, State Employees Participating in a Rebate Program Administered by their Agency

Employees of Connecticut Innovations, Inc. (CI) may participate in the Solar PV Rebate Program administered by the agency with the exception of those employees substantially involved in the development, and those involved in approving the development of, the criteria under which the program operates.  Employees, including those who administer the program, may participate on the same terms as other eligible Connecticut residents, with the following guidelines:

  • A CI Employee involved in administering the program who submits an application must file a written statement of the potential conflict with his/her supervisor, who must then assign the matter to an employee who is not a subordinate of the filer; 
  • A CI employee who is not involved in administering the program but submits an application must not have his/her application evaluated by a subordinate;
  • CI employees submitting rebate applications must receive no preferential treatment;
  • CI employees must not use their positions or any confidential information to influence CI’s response to their applications; and
  • Any communications between CI and its employees regarding their applications must be formal and in writing.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2008-7, Interpretation of “Communicator Lobbyist” for Purposes of Election Statute
The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a communicator lobbyist who terminates his or her registration during a calendar year is no longer a registrant, but remains a communicator lobbyist for the remainder of that year. 

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2008-8, Interpretation of General Statues 1-84 (n), Regarding Principals of Investment Firms and Campaign Contributions to the State Treasurer

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that, for purposes of General Statutes § 1-84 (n), if an individual makes a contribution to the State Treasurer’s campaign before becoming a principal of an investment services firm, the contribution will be attributed to the firm once the individual becomes a principal, thus prohibiting the firm from doing business with the Office of the Treasurer during the incumbent’s term of office.  The Board ordered that the enforcement of this opinion be delayed until June 30, 2009.  See Order.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2008-9, Exception to the Requirement to Register as a Lobbyist

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that an employee of a client lobbyist may be considered an "expert witness," and thus exempted from the requirement to register as a lobbyist.

 


 

-2007-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2007-1, Reconsideration of Advisory Opinion 1997-20, Regarding § 1-84 (o)  The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that: (a) the reporting requirement in § 1-84 (o) applies to any person regulated by, doing business with, or seeking to do business with a department or agency and not only to registered client lobbyists; and (b) that § 1-97 (d) applies to both registered client and communicator lobbyists.  The Board also concluded that, for the purposes of § 1-84 (o), the determination of who is an executive head of an agency varies. Those agencies with questions as to their agency head should contact the Office of State Ethics.  This opinion supersedes 1997-20.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2007-2, Application of Section 1-84 (m) to the Judicial Branch

It is the opinion of the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board that, for purposes of § 1-84 (m), attorneys admitted to practice law in the state of Connecticut are “directly regulated” by the Superior Court.  Additionally, the Judicial Department and its components constitute a single state department or agency.  Thus, employees of the Judicial Department are prohibited from accepting any “gift,” as defined in § 1-79 (e), from attorneys admitted to practice law in Connecticut.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2007-3, Public Notice for Legislative Receptions

Registered lobbyists and business organizations are permitted to host one legislative reception per year, either a state-wide or regional event.  It is the opinion of the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board that the requirement that such legislative receptions be “publicly noticed” is satisfied by publishing the event in the Connecticut General Assembly’s Bulletin.  When the General Assembly is not in session, the notice requirement is satisfied by publication in the interim Bulletin if the event is taking place at the state capitol or in the Legislative Office Building.  Should these options not be available, notice should be published in a newspaper, circulating either statewide or regionally, depending on the nature of the event.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2007-4, Outside Employment Scenarios of DOT Employees

It is permissible for certain DOT employees to engage in certain specific outside employment activities, as described in detail in the opinion, if the prescribed restrictions are followed.  Essentially, the focus in outside employment cases is whether a state employee is in a position to influence his private employer’s business relationship with the employee’s agency, and/or whether the agency employee has had any input in the contract development, contract award or contract administration process involving the private employer.  The opinion also notes that individual state agencies are permitted to be more restrictive in implementing their internal ethics policies, including outside employment provisions, (as was the case with the DOT), so long as no other laws are violated.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2007-5, Further Interpretation of § 1-84 (p)

In Advisory Opinion 2006-6, the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board interpreted § 1-84 (p) to mean that subordinates and supervisors up and down the chain of command have a $99.99 per gift limit when giving items to each other.  (These individuals may also make use of the major-life-event exception, when applicable.)  In this opinion, the Board concluded that supervisors and/or subordinates may not pool their money to give a collective or group gift valued in excess of the $99.99 limit.  Thus, except in the case of a major life event, it would be a violation for Supervisor A to accept a gift valued at $150 from Subordinates X and Y (and for them to give such a gift), even though the individual contributions of X and Y are less than the $99.99 limit established in 1-84 (p).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2007-6, Revolving Door Application to Former State Employees Serving in More than One Agency

Section 1-84b (b) of the Code of Ethics establishes a one-year “cooling-off” period for former state employees.  In essence, the revolving door provision states that former employees cannot, for one year after leaving state service, represent anyone other than the state for compensation before their former agency concerning a matter in which the state has a substantial interest.  The Board concluded that, for the purposes of this provision, an individual may have more than one department or agency if, within his/her last year of service, he/she served at more than one department or agency.  This holds true even if the employee did not serve at more than one agency simultaneously.  For example, an employee works at Agency A, then leaves that agency and works for Agency B, then leaves state service entirely, all in the same year.  In this case, both agencies A and B would be considered to be “former agencies” for the purposes of 1-84b (b).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2007-7, Potential Conflicts of Interest for State Agency Board Members

The Code of Ethics does not prohibit a Council on Developmental Disabilities member from participating in government-funded programs or obtaining services from federal or state agencies.  This holds true even if such services are administered by non-government agencies with business interests before the Council, as they are government-funded and available to any member of the public with a disability (therefore, not considered a “gift” under the Code).   It is, however, impermissible for a government program to be enhanced by the providing organization and given to a Council member (e.g., a lobster dinner instead of state-funded meatloaf).  This would be considered a gift under the Code, subject to applicable restrictions.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2007-8, Outside Employment of the Speaker of the House

While the Code of Ethics does not prohibit the Speaker of the House (Speaker) from engaging in outside employment, the Code requires that there can be no use of his office or position to obtain financial gain.  Under the unique facts of the Speaker’s situation, the Board concluded that it would be an inappropriate use of his office and position for him to solicit funds from lobbyists in connection with his outside employment. 

 

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2007-9, Confidentiality Provisions

The Board concluded that, following the filing of a formal complaint with the OSE, the complainant (the individual who filed the complaint) is prohibited from disclosing: (1) the existence of a formally-filed complaint; (2) any information acquired through interacting with the OSE ; and (3) the fact that specific information was conveyed to the OSE.  A complainant is not prohibited from disclosing the facts that formed the basis of the complaint.  For example, a complainant may state to a third party, “Public official X used his office for personal financial gain.”  The complainant may not state, “I informed the OSE that public official X used his office for personal financial gain.”

ADVISORY OPINION 2007-10, CT Innovations Ex-Officio Board Members in Revolving-Door Scenarios

Long-standing designees of ex-officio members of the Connecticut Innovations (CI) Board are considered to have “served” in the quasi-public agency for purposes of applying the one-year ban under the revolving door provisions in the Code.  Such a long-standing designee who has left his or her employing state agency may not, within one year, appear before the CI Board for the purpose of being employed.   Similarly, such a designee who remains at his or her employing state agency may not seek employment as CI’s Executive Director for one year from the date he or she ceases to be a designee of the Board.

ADVISORY OPINION 2007-11, Discounts on Dues and Seminar Fees Made Available to All Government Employees by Non-Restricted Donors

The Board concluded that: (1) three professional organizations whose memberships include a small percentage (less than 17 percent) of restricted donors are not themselves considered restricted donors for purposes of the gift provisions of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials, and (2) the Insurance Department may accept discounts on dues and seminar fees made available by those professional organizations/non-restricted donors.

ADVISORY OPINION 2007-12, Effect of Public Act 07-1 on "Gifts to the State" from Restricted Donors

Addressing four hypothetical scenarios, the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that: (1) a state technical high school may not accept a “gift to the state” from a restricted donor in the form of weeklong math or science workshops for its teachers; (2) a state agency may accept volunteer services from restricted donors in order to complete a statutorily required legislative report; (3) a state agency may not accept a contractor’s payment or reimbursement of travel expenses in order for agency employees to attend a meeting in New York City to discuss the implementation of a state contract and tour the contractor’s facilities; and (4) a state agency may accept a nonearmarked cash contribution from a restricted donor that would be deposited into an agency account and used for, among other things, paying for its employees to travel to and attend meetings and conferences.

ADVISORY OPINION 2007-13Government Discounts

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that the Code of Ethics does not prohibit public officials and state employees from receiving a government employee discount from a non-restricted donor valued at more than $100 while on personal time, even if such discount is not offered to the general public or other large group on an equal basis.  The discount in question, the Board stated, must be equally available and advertised to all government employees, regardless of rank, agency, or position with the state.  If the discount meets the above requirements, public officials and state employees may accept it.

ADVISORY OPINION 2007-14, Application of General Statutes §1-84 (m) to the Office of the Secretary of the State

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that a business entity is not, by the mere fact of registering with the Commercial Recording Division of the Office of the Secretary of the State, a restricted donor for purposes of General Statutes §1-84 (m), a gift provision in the Code of Ethics for Public Officials.

ADVISORY OPINION 2007-15, Application of the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists to Registration and Reporting Requirements of Non-Profit Organizations

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded as follows:

  1. To qualify as “bona fide members” for purposes of General Statutes § 1-91 (f), individuals on a mailing list or an e-mail list must affirmatively accept the membership organization’s invitation to become a member and satisfy one of three other requirements.
  2. For purposes of § 1-91 (f), only expenses incurred for communications made to members by way of “published” materials are exempt from reporting.  In addition, the staff person of a client lobbyist who communicates with members in ways other than by “published” materials must count compensation received for the time spent communicating towards the $2,000 lobbyist registration threshold.
  3. Where the staff person of a non-profit who primarily conducts grassroots activities (e.g., soliciting others to contact their legislators) goes to the capitol to testify about a particular issue, the client must report compensation paid for the individual’s time spent testifying and the time spent in preparation, and the individual must register as a lobbyist if he/she reaches the $2,000 threshold.
  4. The time spent participating on a legislative task force up until the release of the task force report is not considered reportable lobbying activity and does not count towards the $2,000 lobbying threshold.  Nonetheless, any subsequent activity to encourage or discourage legislative action on the task force recommendation is considered lobbying.  Any compensation paid/received for the time spent engaging in such activity must be reported by lobbyists and counts towards the registration threshold for anyone not currently registered as a lobbyist.

ADVISORY OPINION 2007-16, Definition of "Department Heads" for Purposes of General Statutes §1-83(a)(1)

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that, for purposes of General Statutes § 1-83 (a) (1)—which requires “department heads” (and others) to file annual Statements of Financial Interests—the term “department heads” means those individuals listed in General Statutes § 4-5. 

 


 

-2006-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2006-1, Application of the Code of Ethics' Ban on Outside Employment

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that, in accordance with General Statutes § 1-84 (b)’s ban on outside employment that impairs independence of judgment, members of the Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee should not also be employed by, or paid board members of, institutions that submit applications for grant funds.

Note: that following the release of this opinion, the Connecticut General Assembly passed legislation that waived the § 1-84 (b) ban on outside employment for the Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee.

The interpretation of § 1-84 (b) in Advisory Opinion No. 2006-1 was overruled in Advisory Opinion No. 2013-3.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2006-2, Whether the University of Connecticut Constitutes a "Former Agency" of the Governor

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded, for purposes of General Statutes § 1-84b (b), (a revolving-door provision), that the University of Connecticut would constitute a “former agency” of a Governor of the state of Connecticut by virtue of his or her role as ex-officio president of the Board of Trustees. 

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2006-3, Interpretation of General Statues § 1-84 (q)

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board concluded that, as a result of General Statutes § 1-84 (q), goods or services provided to the state under General Statutes § 1-79 (e) (5), the “gifts-to-the-state” exception, may no longer be accepted from regulated donors.   Goods or services meeting the requirements of the exception from non-regulated donors may still be accepted.  Necessary expenses for active participation in an event may be accepted from regulated as well as non-regulated donors.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2006-4, Whether a Professional Organization Constitutes a Regulated Donor

The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board concluded that, as a result of General Statutes § 1-84 (m), if a professional organization's membership is a collection of persons doing business with or seeking to do business with the Department of Public of Public Works (DPW), and the organization's funding stems mainly from those persons, the organization is considered to be doing business with or seeking to do business with DPW.  In other words, the organization is considered a regulated donor and, as such, may not give "gifts" as defined in § 1-79 (e) to DPW employees and officials.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2006-5, State Employees Prohibited from Accepting Fees and Honoraria for Official-Capacity Activities, Even When Sanctioned by Union Contract

General Statutes § 1-84 (k) prohibits state employees and public officials from accepting fees and honoraria for activities conducted in one's official capacity.  In this opinion, the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board interprets the phrase, "official capacity," to mean that the public official's or state employee's official position or authority was a significant factor in a decision to extend an invitation for an article, appearance, speech or event participation by such employee or official.  The Board also concluded that a union contract that sanctions acceptance of honoraria for activities conducted in one's official capacity does not supercede the Code of Ethics, as there is no exception to § 1-84 (k).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2006-6, Interpretation of General Statues § 1-84 (p)

This opinion interprets General Statutes § 1-84 (p), a recently-enacted provision in the Code of Ethics for Public Officials. This three-part provision limits gift-giving between certain individuals in state service.  Specifically, the provision imposes a monetary limit of $99.99 between a public official or state employee and his or her supervisor.  The Board concluded that this limit is a per-gift—not a per-year— amount. The Board also concluded that individuals subject to the limit in § 1-84 (p) may still make use of the major-life-event exception.  In other words, supervisors and subordinates are not limited to $99.99 when giving gifts to each other for major life events.  Finally, the Board concluded that the provision applies not only to direct supervisors and subordinates, but to any individual up or down the chain of command.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2006-7, Vendor Discounts for DOT Employees Who Work at Bradley International Airport

Under the Code of Ethics, DOT employees who work at the Bradley International Airport may accept certain state-subsidized discounts on food and non-alcoholic beverages from airport vendors.  Per the specific terms of the contracts in place, DOT bears the entire cost of the discounts made available to its employees.  Therefore, consideration of equal value is given and the discount does not meet the definition of a "gift" under General Statutes § 1-79 (e).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2006-8 , Interpretation of General Statutes §§ 1-82a (e) and 1-93a (e)

For purposes of violations of the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists, the Enforcement Division of the OSE must seek Board approval to settle a complaint both prior and subsequent to a finding of probable cause.  For purposes of violations of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials, the Enforcement Division must seek Board approval to settle a complaint only after a finding of probable cause.

 


 

-2005-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2005-1, Further Application Of Code Of Ethics To Labor Representative On The Waterbury Financial Planning And Assistance Board

The Commission was asked whether Stephen Laccone, president of AFSCME Local 353 and the labor representative on the Waterbury Financial Planning and Assistance Board (Board), could negotiate on behalf of his bargaining unit on a new agreement with the city of Waterbury until that agreement was presented to the Board.  By statute, the legislature mandated that one of the members of the Board be a chief executive officer of a bargaining unit representing city employees. Given that statutory mandate, the Commission determined that the legislature did not intend to prevent the Board’s labor representative from participating in his union’s contract negotiations with the city before any Board involvement in the matter. Thus, it concluded that Mr. Laccone was not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from participating in the preliminary negotiations between the city and his union, but that if the matter reached the Board, he could participate in the Board’s deliberations only if he filed a written statement in accordance with General Statutes § 1-86 and refrained from participating any further in his union’s sessions pertaining to the contract. 

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2005-2, Application Of Outside Employment Rules To Division Director At Department Of Mental Health And Addiction Services

The Commission was asked whether a division director of addiction services for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) could accept outside employment as a fee-for-service mental health technician with a private provider of clinical services that received funds under a contract with DMHAS.  It concluded that the division director could accept the outside employment, so long as he did not: (1) have any input as to whether his outside employer continued to have a contract with DMHAS; (2) provide addiction services or services to DMHAS clientele; and (3) have any access to confidential information of interest to his outside employer.  The Commission added that if the division director was required to take action at DMHAS that would affect his financial interests at his outside employer, he would be required, under General Statutes § 1-86 (a), to prepare a written statement describing the potential conflict of interest and deliver that statement to his supervisor, who would be required to refer the matter to someone at the division director’s level or higher.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2005-3, Application Of Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To Outside Activity Of Connecticut Small Business Development Center Counselor

The Commission was asked whether a counselor for the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CSBDC) had violated the Code of Ethics under the following circumstances:  Two individuals came to the counselor’s CSBDC branch to receive counseling on the development of their jewelry business.  Two years after those individuals first came to the office for counseling, counseling that likely included the disclosure of financial information, their file was closed.  Two years later, they ran into the counselor at a social gathering and discussed the possibility of working together on the jewelry business.   The counselor decided to invest in the business, and within six months, she resigned from her position at the CSBDC and became chief financial officer of the jewelry business.  According to the Commission, the counselor did not violate the Code of Ethics, because the file had been closed for years before she invested in the business, and because there was no evidence that she had profited from her actions. 

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2005-4, Outside Employment By Well-Known State Employees of Public Officials

The Commission was asked to review the celebrity status rule and its application, and to decide whether it agreed with the interpretation that gave rise to the celebrity status rule.  Based on its review of relevant statutes and regulations, and several related opinions, the Commission concluded that there was no statutory or regulatory basis for treating the so-called “celebrity” state employees differently from all other public officials and state employees, simply because they are “celebrities.”  In particular, unlike use of expertise – which is expressly permitted in some circumstances by the Commission’s regulations – there is no equivalent provision permitting a use of celebrity status.  

 


 

-2004-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-1, Application Of Code Of Ethics To Statutorily-Designated Member Of State Commission If Member’s Outside Private Employer Contracts With State Commission

Chief State’s Attorney Christopher Morano asked whether Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc. (“CONNSACS”) could contract with the Commission on the Standardization of the Collection of Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations (“Standardization Commission”) when a member of CONNSACS is statutorily-mandated to sit on the Commission’s board.  The Ethics Commission held that the CONNSACS Executive Director, who sits on the Commission board, must abstain from taking any action to affect CONNSACS or one of its competitors.  Also, the Standardization Commission must avoid putting its employees who may oversee any CONNSACS contract work in the awkward position of having to answer to the CONNSACS Executive Director in his or her Commission role as their “boss.”

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-2,  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84(m)(1) And Related Gift Provisions Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials

The Majority Leader of the state House of Representatives asked for an advisory opinion regarding “the proper interpretation of Section 1-84 subsection (m) of the Connecticut General Statutes.”  The Commission held that, in administering the gift ban of §1-84(m)(1), the ban also prohibits a state employee or public official from accepting a gift from someone who has contacted his or her agency with the business purpose of furthering a state contract, even if that agency does not have actual, legal authority to issue or execute the contract.  The Ethics Commission also reiterated the so-called “$100 rule,” which prohibits the receipt of any gift or gifts valued at over $100 in the aggregate in a calendar year, given by virtue of one’s public office or position.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-3,  Interpretation Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-79(e)(2)

In applying the “volunteer services” exception to the definition of gift, Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-79(e)(2), the Ethics Commission distinguishes between true volunteer services that are provided without compensation and services that are donated without cost to a public official, but for which the provider is paid by someone else.  Services which meet the definition of “volunteer” must also be analyzed under other Code provisions, such as the “use of office” prohibition of §1-84(c) and the bribe provisions, §§1-84(f) and (g).  For example, services valued at more than $100 will violate §1-84(c) if the services are being provided by virtue of the recipient’s public office.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-4, Application Of The Code Of Ethics To The Governor’s Legal Defense Fund

Contributions to the Governor’s legal defense fund should not be solicited or accepted from the following classes of persons:   employees of the Governor’s Office; full-time appointees of the governor (e.g., commissioners); citizen commissioners appointed by the Governor who are required to file annual Statements of Financial Interests (e.g., the members or directors of the quasi-public agencies; the members of the Gaming Policy Board; the members of the Investment Advisory Council; and the members of the Ethics Commission); and those individuals and entities with contested cases (as defined in Conn. Gen. Stat. §4-166(2)) pending before an Executive Branch agency.  Contributions of up to $2,500 from members of the general public are acceptable.  The fund should operate as a blind trust, and is subject to Ethics Commission audit.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-5, Application Of Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To State Employee Running For Governor

A state employee who wishes to run for governor may not accept a campaign contribution given with the understanding that his official actions would be affected thereby.  Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84(g).  The “use of office” prohibition of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84(c), however, is not applicable to this situation.  Therefore, under the Ethics Code, the state employee may solicit and receive campaign funds from people over whom he may exercise some level of authority.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-6, Application Of The Code’s Gift To The State Provision

A state agency that is offered free goods or services must determine whether the benefit to the state in accepting the gift outweighs any potential conflict.  Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies §1-81-27(b).  The provision of free seminars on business and technical issues to Department of Public Works employees, to be held at the agency, is an unobjectionable gift to the state.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-7, Application Of Public Act No. 04-38

The changes made to the Ethics Codes by P.A. 04-38,--such as increasing the Commission’s civil penalty authority from $2,000 to $10,000, extending the statutes of limitation from three to five years, and making certain violations of the Codes a Class D felony--were intended to apply on a prospective basis only.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-8, Application Of The Statement Of Financial Interests Filing Requirement To Individuals Who Temporarily Occupy A Designated Position

Individuals who temporarily occupy positions that have been designated to file Annual Statements of Financial Interests must comply with the filing requirement.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-9, Review Of Commission Procedures For Issuance Of Complaints And Subpoenas

Reiterating earlier Commission policies:   Ethics Commission staff attorneys are authorized to file Commission complaints; Ethics Commission subpoenas may be signed by the Chairperson ex parte, and without full Commission review or vote.

These policies were upheld in State Ethics Commission v. Linda Kowalski, No. CV 04-0832632, Memorandum of Decision, May 14, 2004 (Booth, J.).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-10, Application Of The Code’s Charitable Event Gift Exception To The National Political Conventions

A Connecticut corporation registered as a lobbyist that plans to hold a concert at the Republican National Convention to benefit a charity camp must determine the application of the Code of Ethics’ gift rules before offering free tickets to Connecticut public officials, state employees and members of their immediate families.  For free attendance at such an event to be permissible, the event must either:  (1) fall within the statutory annual limits for gifts and meals (ten dollars and fifty dollars respectively), if provided by a regulated donor; (2) qualify for another exemption to the gift ban; or (3) total less than $100 if provided by virtue of one’s official position by a nonregulated donor (i.e., a person not registered as a lobbyist, not regulated by, doing business with or seeking to do business with one’s agency).  The opinion outlines criteria to be followed for the “admission to a charitable or civic event” exception to the gift law to apply.   Conn. Gen. Stat. §§1-79(e)(14), 1-91(g)(14).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-11, Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To Commissioner Of The Public Utility Control Authority When Law Firm Of Commissioner’s Husband Files an Appearance Before The Authority

Public Utility Control Authority Commissioner whose husband’s law firm files an appearance in matter pending before the Authority must follow the rules established in Conn. Gen. Stat. §§1-85 and 1-86 regarding substantial and potential conflicts of interest.  If no direct monetary benefit will accrue to her spouse by reason of her official activity, then the Commissioner could hear matters in which her husband’s law firm has filed an appearance.  It is beyond the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission to determine whether the Code of Judicial Conduct may apply.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-12, Application Of The Codes To Benefits Received By Legislators At National Legislative Conferences And Political Conventions

Legal Counsel for the House Republicans presented a number of hypothetical questions regarding the acceptance of meals or other benefits provided to public officials and state employees at national legislative organization or political conventions.  The opinion examines the application of the Codes’ gift rules when benefits are provided by:  (1) an out-of-state lobbyist whose company has a Connecticut lobbyist (and is therefore a Connecticut lobbyist itself); (2) an out-of-state lobbyist whose company does not have a Connecticut lobbyist; (3) a corporation that pays a fee to a national legislative organization that in turn allows the corporation to be listed as the sponsor of the event; (4) an organization, which may or may not be funded by corporate contributions; (5) a national legislative organization that provides a state scholarship account to be used for legislators’ travel expenses, if the scholarship is funded by corporate contributions; (6) political parties at state or national conventions, and; (7) a lobbyist who has bought a ticket to an event sponsored by another corporation (See Advisory Opinion No. 2004-10 for answer to last question).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-13, Application Of The Lobbyist And Public Official’s Codes To A Family Member Communicating With A Legislator’s Legislative Committee

The Code of Ethics contains no express ban on a communicator lobbyist lobbying a family member who is a legislator.  There is nothing inherent in a child lobbying a parent’s legislative committee that would constitute an automatic violation by the legislator of the “use of office” prohibition of §1-84(c) or the “interference with a lobbying contract” ban of §1-84(l).  A lobbyist who is performing “pro bono” work for a group of businesses with the hope that the group may form an organization and hire an executive director, must be careful to avoid creating a prohibited contingent fee for lobbying situation.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-14, Application Of The Revolving Door Provisions Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To The Secretary Of The Office Of Policy And Management

Under the Code’s revolving door law, the Secretary of OPM must refrain from involvement in his potential outside employer’s state business while he is actively pursuing a particular job opportunity.  The mere fact that a prospective employer may have, at some time during the Secretary’s tenure, benefited from an administration program or policy does not automatically prohibit him from seeking employment with that employer, although the restrictions of Conn. Gen. Stat. §§1-84(f), 1-84(g) and 1-84b(f) continue to apply.  The Secretary also asked a series of questions regarding the application of the revolving door law to a specific set of facts involving the state’s 2003 and 2004 negotiations with certain HMOs.  The Commission concluded that, under the facts presented, if (1) the Secretary’s involvement in the 2003 contract process was substantial, (2) the changes to the contract were more than routine modifications and (3) he left state service before December 30, 2004, then he would have to wait one year before he took a job with one of the HMOs that was a party to the contract.

With regard to the 2004 contract, if the Secretary did not participate or supervise the negotiations, but merely approved a 4-month extension of the existing contract with one change, and that change was based on a federal guideline, then that change was a routine modification that did not prevent him from accepting employment with the HMO within the first year after leaving state service under §1-84b(f).

Should the Secretary take a post-state employment position with an HMO for whom he approved a cost overrun, he may never represent that HMO with regard to any contract that was funded as a result of his official action.

Finally, the relevant issue in determining whether the Secretary can seek or accept employment with an in-state or out-of-state holding, parent or sister company of one of the HMOs without violating the one year ban of §1-84b(f) is whether or not the private party to a state contract has sufficient control over, or input in, the hiring decision of its parent, sister or related holding company, such that the private party could facilitate a job offer being made to a state employee or public official.

Under all circumstances, once the Secretary leaves state service, the remaining revolving door provisions will apply to him.   See §§1-84a, 1-84b(b).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-14 (AMENDED), Application Of The Revolving Door Provisions Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To The Secretary Of The Office Of Policy And Management

The penultimate paragraph of Advisory Opinion No. 2004-14 was amended to clarify the steps the Secretary of OPM must take to recuse himself under Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-86(a).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-15, Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(a) To Dept. Of Agriculture Employee Seeking Post-State Employment From United States Food & Drug Administration

Under the “particular matter” ban of §1-84b(a), a former state employee may not perform work for the federal Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) that will involve her review of a state program for the years that she worked at the program, as a state Department of Agriculture (“DOA”) employee.  Any regulatory contact with the DOA as a federal employee is prohibited in the first year under §1-84b(b).  The former employee could consult with the DOA on non-FDA matters, provided that, for the first year, any compensation she receives is at a rate no higher than she earned while in state service.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2004-16, Interpretation Of What Constitutes State Employee’s Former Agency Under Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(b)

A state employee or official may have more than one “former agency” for purposes of applying the one-year ban on appearing before one’s “former department, agency, board, commission, council or office” found in Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(b).

 


 

-2003-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-1, Application Of The §1-84(n) Prohibition To A Contribution Made To An Unsuccessful Candidate For The Office Of State Treasurer 

Subsection 1-84(n) of the Ethics Code prohibits investment services firms from doing business with the Office of the Treasurer, if an enumerated member or employee of the firm has made a political contribution to the Treasurer as a candidate for nomination or election.  

The Commission was asked whether the §1-84(n) ban would apply to a person who made a contribution to an unsuccessful candidate for the Office of Treasurer.   The answer is no.  

Prior to May, 2002, §1-84(n) applied to contributions made to all candidates for the position of Treasurer.  Pursuant to P.A. No. 02-130, Sec 13 (effective May 10, 2002 ), however, the provision was narrowed; and now applies only to contributions made to "the State Treasurer as a candidate…"  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-2, Application Of The Code To The Private Funding Of State Positions 

In the wake of state layoffs, the Commission was asked whether it would be permissible for a state agency to fund the continuation of a position through contributions from lobbyists or entities regulated by or doing business with the agency.  

The answer is yes.  Specifically, such funding would qualify as a statutory "Gift to the State."  However, any individual occupying such a position would be prohibited, under the Code, from taking any official action which would financially benefit his or her benefactor.  

Additionally, the Commission noted that any such arrangement must comply not only with the Ethics Code but also with any retirement collective bargaining provision.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-3,  Application Of Ethics Code Revolving Door Provisions To Hiring Of State Employee With Technical Expertise By Vendor

The Commission was asked how the Code's post-statement employment provisions would apply if a private vendor, under contract with a state agency, wished to hire a laid off state employee to perform substantially the same work he or she had previously done for the State.  

Under an exception to the Code's post-state employment rules, the former state employee could accept a position with the vendor which required the individual to appear before his or her former agency, provided the work consisted solely of technical implementation of a preexisting contract.  

If, however, the vendor's contract with the State allowed it to recover the costs of the individual's salary, such salary may not, for one year, exceed the employee's final salary and benefits with the State.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-4, Application Of The Term "In Furtherance of Lobbying" To Corporate Contributions To State Governmental Associations 

The Commission was asked how the reporting requirements of the Lobbyist Code would apply if a client lobbyist corporation makes substantial donations (e.g., $100,000) to groups such as the Republican or Democratic Governors' Associations of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Commission believes it is essentially unarguable that contributions of this type and magnitude are intended to foster good will and provide access to state executives and legislative decision makers.  As such, they are reportable to the Commission as expenditures in furtherance of lobbying.  To avoid over reporting, however, the corporation should prorate its disclosure by dividing its overall contributions by the number of states in which it is registered to lobby.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-5Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Registration Requirements To Communications Made To State Officials For The Purpose Of Influencing Federal Action 

The registration and reporting requirements of the Lobbyist Code do not in general, apply to communications with a state official for the purpose of affecting federal action.  

Only if state administrative or legislative action was a necessary prerequisite to obtaining the federal action, would the requirements of the Lobbyist Code apply.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-6Extent Of Reporting Required When Actions Are Taken Outside Normal Agency Process Outside Normal Agency Process Extent Of Reporting Required When Actions Are Taken Outside Normal Agency Process

Pursuant to Office of State Ethics Regulations, certain specified activities, e.g., responses to requests for contract proposals, are exempt from lobbyist registration.  If, however, an individual goes outside the established regulatory or contractual process, e.g., by contacting the Governor's Office, he or she may be required to register.  Specifically, registration will be required if the individual receives $2000 or more (the current annual registration threshold) for such nonexempt activities.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-7, Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-101bb To The Hiring Of A Lobbyist To Represent A State Agency At The Federal Level

Public Act No.  02-46, sec 8, prohibits state and quasi-public agencies from retaining lobbyists.  The language of the Act and related definitions make clear that the ban applies to hiring a lobbyist to represent the agency at the state level.  The Act does not prohibit state or quasi-public agencies from retaining lobbyists to represent the State's interests at the federal level.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-8, Application Of The Ethics Code To Connecticut Innovations’ Proposal To Create Small Business Investment Company

This Ruling sanctioned Connecticut Innovations, Inc.'s (CI) efforts to form and invest in a Small Business Investment Company.   Specifically, the Opinion establishes a framework of state guards to insure CI's employees can comply with the U.S. Small Business Administration's Investment requirement while avoiding conflicts of interests.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-9, Application Of The Code To Outside Referrals By UCONN Mental Health Services Providers

The Commission was asked how the Ethics Code applied to the possible referral of UCONN students to the private practices of UCONN clinicians providing counseling and mental health services.  Under prior policy, UCONN students were not referred to staff members’ private practices.   This has, however, proved to be a hardship for students not eligible for University services, due to the lack of private clinicians in the immediate area.

As a consequence, on a trial basis the Commission approved such referrals under the following criteria:

  1. No participating clinician will take part in the referral process.  Rather, the decision will be made by the individual’s peers and superiors; and
  2. No specific referral will be made.   Alternatively, students will be given a list of all participating providers in the area, including the participating UCONN staff.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-10, Application Of The Code Of Ethics To The Division Of Special Revenue’s Policy Regarding Employee Participation In Gaming Activities

The Executive Director of the Division of Special Revenue asked the Commission whether the Division’s policy regarding employee participation in gaming activities was proper under the Ethics Code.

With regard to Division policies concerning gratuities, outside employment, licensure and ownership of a regulated gaming business, the Commission found that all such policies were fully consistent with the requirements of the Ethics Code.

With regard to employee gambling, the Commission found that this activity was beyond the scope of the provisions of the Ethics Code.  Alternatively, the Commission found that this sphere of activity was properly regulated by the Division under its Agency ethics statement.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-11, Application Of The Ethics Code To The Executive Director Of The Arts Commission

The Executive Director of the Arts Commission asked for an Opinion regarding the application of the Code’s post-state employment provisions.

Specifically, the Director inquired how §1-84b(f) would apply to certain job opportunities he was considering.  That Code section prohibits acceptance of employment with an entity, if, during one’s last year in state service, the state official was personally and substantially involved in the award of a contract valued at $50,000 or more to that entity.

The Commission reviewed two contracts awarded by the Arts Commission during the past year:

  1. In one instance, the contract was for approximately $641,000.  However, the Commission found that the majority of this contract was a pass through, and that the actual benefit to the entity in question was only $30,000, well below the statutory threshold.
  2. In the second contract, the Commission found that the value met the $50,000 threshold; and the Executive Director was, therefore, prohibited from accepting employment with the contract recipient for one year.  In making this determination, the Commission rejected the Director’s contention that his written recommendation to his Board regarding the contract did not constitute personal and substantial participation.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-12 Application Of The Code To The Business Interests Of A Candidate For The Office Of Secretary Of State

This Opinion discusses the application of various provisions of the Ethics Code to Mr. Robert Landino, a potential candidate for the Office of Secretary of the State.  The Opinion held that no provision of the Code would prohibit Mr. Landino from being a candidate for, as serving as, Secretary of the State.  Furthermore, no Code provision would preclude the continuation of his outside business activities; provided this work is carried out in a manner consistent with the Commission’s guidance as set forth in the Opinion.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-13 Interpretation Of Advisory Opinion No. 98-9

In Advisory Opinion No. 98-9 the Commission held that gifts received by value of one’s public office from nonrestricted donors were permissible if limited to $100 or less per year.  The Commission was now asked:   1.  whether this Ruling allowed only the official, or each member of his or her immediate family, to take up to $100 in benefits; and 2.  whether the $100 was in addition to or in lieu of the statutory exceptions to the Code’s definition of “Gift.”

  1. The $100 provision applies not only to the public official but also allows each immediate family member to accept benefits up to this threshold.
  2. The $100 provision is in addition to the unobjectionable benefits (e.g., ceremonial award, informational material) allowed pursuant to the exceptions to the “Gift” definition.
ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-14 Application Of The Code To Veterans’ Performance Incentive Awards Program

It is not impermissible, under the Ethics Code, for Department of Labor personnel to participate in an incentive awards program established and funded by federal mandate.  However, to avoid conflicts of interest no department official involved in administering the program or determining recipients may be eligible for an award.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-15 Application Of The Code To The Hiring Of The Spouse Of The Director Of Farmland Preservation

The spouse of the Director of Farmland Preservation may be hired, as an independent contractor, to provide appraisals regarding farm development rights, provided the relevant Code provisions are followed.  Specifically, the hiring must be done through an open and public process, including a prior public offer of the employment opportunity.  Additionally, the Director may take no part in the process; and, if her spouse is selected, must refrain from any official action which would affect the financial interests of the appraiser’s position.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-16 Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §§1-84b(a) And 1-84b(b) To Letters Prepared By Former Department Of Environmental Protection Employee At Request Of Applicant With Matter Before Department Board

Pursuant to the Ethics Code’s post-state employment provisions:  no former state employee may represent any person, other than the State, concerning a particular matter in which they were personally and substantially involved and in which the State has a substantial interest; and no former state employee may represent any person for compensation before his or her former agency for one year after leaving state service.  These provisions apply regardless of whether the information being supplied by the former employee is claimed to be “neutral” in its application.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-17 Application Of The Code To DMR Staff Accepting Outside Employment In Privatized State Group Homes

In response to budget concerns, the Department of Mental Retardation (DMR) determined to transition up to thirty group homes to the private sector.   As the process goes forward, certain DMR employees sought guidance regarding the possibility of part-time employment with the potential private providers.  Consistent with Commission precedent, nurses and other providers of direct care may accept the outside employment, provided they take no part whatsoever in the patient referral process and any decisions affecting the financial interests of the outside homes are made by a DMR supervisor.  In contrast, DMR administrators and managers who exercise contractual, regulatory, supervisory or policy making authority regarding DMR clientele should not accept the outside employment.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-18 Application Of The Conflict Of Interest Provisions Of The Code Of Ethics To Members Of The Waterbury Financial Planning And Assistance Board

By statute, one of the members of the Waterbury Financial Planning and Assistance Board (the Board) shall be the chief executive officer of a bargaining unit representing city employees.  In fact, the current member in this position is the President of the Waterbury Teachers Association (WTA).  Given that the WTA’s contract was now before the Board, the Commission was asked how the Code applied to this member.

Considering the statutory mandate, the Commission concluded that the member should be permitted to take official action on the WTA contract.  At the same time, in order to protect the Board’s negotiation strategy and related confidential information, the member must agree to recuse himself from any WTA meetings or other sessions regarding the contract.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-19  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(c) To The Commissioner Of The Office Of Health Care Access

Pursuant to §1-84b(c) of the Code certain senior officials in the enumerated agencies are prohibited, for one year after leaving state service, from accepting employment in the industry they regulate.  The Commissioner of the Office of Health Care Access (OHCA) is one of these designated positions.

The current Commissioner asked whether the §1-84b(c) prohibition would bar her from accepting a position with a parent or holding company of a hospital.   In making this request, the Commissioner suggested the law should not prohibit such work, since OHCA’s authority is limited to oversight of entities licensed by the State to provide direct patient care.  The Commission did not agree with this position.  Rather, based on legislative intent and Commission precedent, the Commission held that §1-84b(c) would prohibit the OHCA Commissioner, for one year, from accepting employment with the parent company of a hospital regulated by OHCA.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-20 Application Of The Code’s Outside Employment Provisions To A Legislator’s Consulting Work

A legislator asked the Commission whether she could accept outside employment as an investment advisor.  In this instance, the employment offer clearly resulted from the legislator’s personal expertise; not from her public office.  As a consequence, the employment is permissible under the Ethics Code.

The legislator is reminded, however, that her consulting may not involve representation before the state agencies listed in §1-84(d) of the Code, nor may she perform any work which would require her registration as a legislative or administrative lobbyist.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2003-21 Application Of The Code’s Conflict Of Interest Provisions To The Commissioner Of Consumer Protection

The Commissioner of Consumer Protection asked how the Ethics Code would apply to his exercise of statutory discretion in a matter under the Unfair Trade Practices Act.  Specifically, the Commissioner advised that:   two year’s ago he had sold his home through a real estate firm that is a defendant in the current matter; that five years ago one of the individual defendants had made a campaign contribution to the political party that supported the Commissioner’s candidacy for alderman; and that he was personally acquainted with several of the consumer/complainants and at least one of the defendants.

Under the Code’s conflict of interest provisions (§§1-85 and 1-86) none of the concerns raised by the Commissioner constitute either a substantial or potential conflict.  As a consequence, no provision of the Ethics Code would prevent the Commissioner from exercising his statutory discretion in this matter.

 


 

-2002-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-1 Application Of The Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84(m)(2) Gift Ban To The Department Of Revenue Services

Under §1-84(m)(2) of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials:  no public official or state employee can accept a gift from any person engaged in activities which are directly regulated by the official’s or employee’s department or agency.

The Commission was asked how this provision applies to agencies such as the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) which, in effect, regulate virtually all Connecticut citizens.

The Commission held that the term “directly” was intended to modify and, hence, limit the scope and application of the words “regulated by”.  Based on this construction, the Commission further held that with regard to agencies such as DRS the statute should be limited to those individuals and entities over which the department is exercising actual regulatory authority.  

Specifically, in the case of DRS, this would prohibit gifts from persons selected for or currently being audited and from persons otherwise involved in contested matters with the Department.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-2:  Application Of The Codes Gift Limits To Items Of Substantial Cost But Insignificant Value

The Commission was asked how to value certain commemorative publications for purposes of the Lobbyist Code’s gift restrictions.  

For example, one of the books in question costs sixty dollars to produce.   While no copies will be available for sale to the general public, the client lobbyist corporation wishes to know whether it can distribute free copies to state officials.  

Pursuant to Commission Regulations, in general, an item is valued according to its marketplace cost.  This valuation rule is premised on the expectation that the item is capable of resale in the marketplace.   In this case, however, the commemorative publication has essentially no resale value.  

Under such circumstances, the Regulations provide for an alternative valuation allowing acceptance of an item if its market value is “indeterminable” but “clearly insignificant”.  In applying this Regulation, the Commission held that an item will be deemed to be of “insignificant” value if its open market valuation is less than ten dollars (the threshold for the Code’s gift ban).  

Turning to the specific issue under review, the Commission ruled that since the commemorative book had essentially no resale value the lobbyist could distribute copies to state officials without risk of violating the Code’s gift ban.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-3 :  Application Of Conn.Gen. Stat. §1-84(i) To Contracts With Quasi-Public Agencies  

The Commission has been asked whether the open and public contracting requirements of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84(i) apply to contracts with Quasi-Public Agencies.  

In pertinent part, §1-84(i) states that “No public official or state employee or member of his immediate family or a business with which he is associated shall enter into any contract with the state…unless the contract has been awarded through an open and public process, including prior public offer and subsequent public disclosure of all proposals considered and the contract awarded.”  

As the Commission has previously held, the legislation which established each of the Quasi-Public Agencies made it clear that they were “not to be construed to be a department, institution or agency of the state”.  Office of State Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 93-12:  wherein the Commission ruled that, as a consequence, the Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-83 financial disclosure of “leases or contracts with the state” did not extend to contracts with Quasi-Public Agencies.  Based on this same rationale, the §1-84(i) open and public process for “any contract with the state” does not extend to contracts entered into with Quasi-Public Agencies.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-4:  Application Of The Code To The Executive Director Of The Siting Council  

The Chairman of the Connecticut Siting Council (Council) asked whether the Council’s new Executive Director had a potential conflict of interests based on his previous employment in the utilities industry.  

Although the Code Of Ethics For Public Officials sets forth extensive post-state employment restrictions, it does not contain parallel pre-state employment rules.  As a consequence, the only limitations on the Executive Director’s official actions would emanate from continuing financial ties; e.g. utilities stock ownership.  Only if his official actions would forseeably affect such financial interests would the Executive Director be required to recuse himself from a matter.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-5:  Application Of The Code To Contributions To A State Employee’s Legal Defense Fund  

The Office of State Ethics was asked how The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials applied to a resident state trooper accepting contributions to a legal defense fund from residents of the municipality he served.  

The Commission had previously held that such contributions were gifts for purposes of the Code’s benefit limitations.  Additionally, the Commission found that a resident trooper exercises regulatory authority over the citizens and institutions of the town in which he serves.  Therefore, pursuant to pursuant to §1-84(m) of the Code, he should not accept any contribution from such a citizen or entity exceeding the Code’s statutory gift limit; i.e., ten dollars.  

In this instance, the contributions were unsolicited and were administered by a law firm in a blind trust; thereby precluding the trooper from any direct knowledge of the identities of the donors.  The Commission, therefore, went on to consider whether these safeguards were sufficient to allow the donations; and concluded they were not.  Specifically, the code’s gift limits apply to both direct and indirect benefits.  Furthermore, despite the best intentions of all concerned, given human nature it is unreasonable to assume that over time the sources of the contribution and would not, at least in significant part, become matter of public knowledge.  

Pursuant to §1-96(e) of the Lobbyist Code, a client registrant must, in general, file an itemized statement of each expenditure of ten dollars or more made for the benefit of a public official in the legislative or executive branch, or a member of such official’s staff or immediate family.  This requirement does not apply, however, to a legislative reception to which all members of the General Assembly have been invited, unless the per person benefit is thirty dollars or more.  

The Commission has been asked whether a client registrant must nonetheless itemize a benefit provided at a legislative reception and costing between ten dollars and thirty dollars per person, if the recipient is a non-legislator; e.g., a legislative liaison for an executive branch agency.  The answer is no.  The itemization exemption applies to the “event”, and, therefore, extends to all potentially reportable beneficiaries who attend.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-6:  Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Itemization Requirements To A Non-Legislator Attending A Legislative Reception  

Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-96(e), a client registrant must, in general, file an itemized statement of each expenditure of ten dollars or more made for the benefit of a public official in the legislative or executive branch, or a member of such official’s staff or immediate family.  This requirement does not apply, however, to a legislative reception to which all members of the General Assembly have been invited, unless the per person benefit is thirty dollars or more.  

The Commission has been asked whether a client registrant must nonetheless itemize a benefit provided at a legislative reception and costing between ten dollars and thirty dollars per person, if the recipient is a non-legislator; e.g., a legislative liaison for an executive branch agency.  The answer is no.  The itemization exemption applies to the “event”, and, therefore, extends to all potentially reportable beneficiaries who attend.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-7 :  Application Of The Code’s Gift And Necessary Expense Provisions To The Commission On The Arts  

The Commission was asked whether senior employees of the Commission On The Arts could accept complimentary tickets from constituent organizations. 

Specifically, on occasion the employees attend performances and address the audience prior to an event.  More often, they attend, as part of their state responsibilities, to:  keep informed of the constituent organizations’ activities; monitor success in attracting diverse audiences; and conduct qualitative assessments under performance conditions.  

Under the Ethics Code’s gift restrictions, tangible gifts of $10 or more from an entity doing business with or seeking business from one’s state agency are prohibited.  Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84(m).  The activities in question are, however, permissible under two exceptions to the gift law.  First, when the employee addresses an audience, acceptance of a ticket to the performance qualifies as a necessary expense.   Second, when the employee attends as part of his or her state duties, the ticket qualifies as a gift to the State which facilitates state action.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-8 :  Application Of The Code’s Open And Public Process Requirements To Contracts Between Community Colleges And Their Employees  

Under §1-84(i) of the Code, no state servant, or his or her immediate family or business, shall enter into a contract with the State, valued at one hundred dollars or more, unless the contract has been awarded through an open and public process.  

Prior to the advent of Website technology, the §1-84(i) requirement was generally met by the placement of an advertisement in an appropriate publication (e.g. newspaper or trade magazine).  By this Ruling, the Commission now authorizes electronic compliance with the §1-84(i) requirements.   Specifically, the public offer provision can be met by posting the contract opportunity on the agency’s public Website and also on the Department of Administrative Services Procurement/Purchasing Website.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-9:  Application Of The Code’s Outside Employment Provisions To An Employee Of The Office Of The Secretary Of The State 

The Deputy Secretary of the State (SOS) asked whether an SOS employee could accept a consultant’s position under the following fact pattern.  

The employee wishes to work for an entity which is a subsidiary of a company that currently does work for the SOS.  The employee does not manage any SOS contracts involving the parent company and has not played a substantial role in the negotiation or award of any such contract for at least two years.  

The Code’s impairment of judgement and use of office provisions, §1-84(b) and (c), do not necessarily prohibit a state employee form utilizing expertise, including experience gain in state service, for personal financial gain.   In this instance, however, the fact that the parent company has benefited from the employee’s past decisions and continues to have a contractual relationship with the SOS creates too great a conflict to permit the work in question.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-10:  Application Of The Codes Of Ethics And Commission Regulations To Entities Soliciting Investments From The Office Of The Treasurer

The Commission was asked a series of questions regarding the application and interrelationship of:  the Lobbyist Code; the Finder’s Fee ban contained in the Treasurer’s statute; the Commission’s Finder’s Fee regulations; and the Public Officials Code’s ban on the Treasurer’s award of business to political contributors.  

The Opinion is not susceptible to summary; but is available for viewing on the Commission’s Website.  Central to the Ruling is the holding that the Lobbyist Code’s “salesperson” exemption does not extend to non-licensed “client relations representatives” who coordinate the flow of information between an investment fund and the Treasurer.  In fact, it is illegal for such non-licensed persons to engage in the sale of securities.  In contrast, an “Investment professional” (e.g. a licensed broker dealer or investment advisor agent) does fall within the salesperson exception and is, therefore, not a lobbyist.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-11:  Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Legislative Reception Exemption 

The League of Women Voters of Connecticut (the League), a registered client lobbyist, asked the Commission for an advisory opinion regarding the application of the Lobbyist Code’s legislative reception exemptions.  

The Lobbyist Code contains two such exemptions:  one for a reception to which all members of the General Assembly are invited; and one for a reception to which all members from a region of the State are invited.  

The League asked if its regional affiliates could utilize this second exception to host various legislative breakfasts for local legislators.   Based on the Legislative history, the answer is no.   A statewide organization such as the League may use only the legislative reception exemption which applies if all members of the General Assembly are invited.  The alternative exemption applies only to registered lobbyists with a geographic service area that consists of a region of the state; e.g., the Greater Waterbury Chamber of Commerce.  

League affiliates can, however, utilize one of the Lobbyist Code’s other gift exceptions (e.g., the exemption allowing up to fifty dollars in food and drink per recipient per year) to hold the legislative breakfasts in question.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-12:  Application Of Various Conflict Of Interest Provisions Of Code Of Ethics To Connecticut State University Board Of Trustee Member

A member of the Connecticut State University Board of Trustees and the Chancellor of the State University System asked a series of questions regarding the application of the Ethics Code to potential contracts between a state university and the trustee, her husband or their business.  

In essence, it would be permissible for the trustee to seek such contracts:   provided the trustee did not create the opportunity for the work, and further provided the open and public contract provisions of §1-84(i) of the Code are followed if the Board of Trustees has authority over the subject matter of the contract.  

The State University Board of Trustees has expressed concerns that allowing such contracts would run counter to the Board’s Bylaws which state that Trustees are “to serve for the public good and not for personal interest or gain.”   If the Board believes such an absolute prohibition is appropriate, it may institute this policy as part of its agency “Ethics Statement” pursuant to §1-83(a)(2) of the Code of Ethics.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-13Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s “Major Life Event” Gift Exception 

A number of lobbyists asked the Commission for an interpretation of the Lobbyist Code’s “major life event” gift exception.  

Specifically, the lobbyists wish to know whether the “birth” and “wedding” “major life event” exceptions are strictly limited or whether, alternatively, they would extend to related events such as a baby shower, wedding shower or stag party.  

The Commission hereby adopts this second alternative.  Simply stated, this more liberal construction is:  the least intrusive into these deeply personal occasions; the least bureaucratic to administer; and the clearest and, therefore, simplest standard for both lobbyists and public officials to follow.  

In closing, the Commission emphasized that:  any such major life event gift over ten dollars must be disclosed by the donor; and only individuals, not business entities, may provide such benefits.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-14:  Application Of §1-85 To Legislation Regarding The Milford Academy 

Senator Win Smith asked the Commission for an opinion applying the Ethics Code’s conflict of interests provisions to the following facts.  

The Senator’s law firm is one of approximately fifty creditors of the Milford Academy; with its unpaid bill for legal services totaling more than $17,000.   The town of Milford entered into an agreement with the Academy whereby Milford would buy the Academy’s ten acre parcel of land for two and one half million dollars and then lease it back to the school.  One of the provisions of this Agreement is that the Academy would pay its creditors in full.  Subsequent to the Agreement, Milford was advised that it did not have the legal authority to issue the necessary bonds to finance the transaction.  As a consequence, the town has asked Senator Smith, who represents Milford , to seek the necessary enabling legislation.  

Under §1-85 of the Code, an elected official has a substantial conflict and may not act if he has reason to believe he or his business will derive a “direct” financial benefit as a result.  The official may act, however, if his benefit is no different than that of the other members of his “profession, occupation or group.”  Therefore, the two fundamental issues are:  do the creditors of the Academy constitute a “group” for purposes of §1-85; and is the potential benefit to the Senator’s firm “direct” as that term is used in the statute.  

As to the first issue, under the rules of statutory construction, the “group” must be essentially equivalent to a “profession” or “occupation.”  Clearly, the fifty creditors of the Academy do not qualify for this exception.  

As to the second issue, “direct”, in pertinent part, is defined as “without intervening conditions.”  Here, since the Agreement predates the requested legislation, there is no substantive additional condition that must be met for the Senator’s firm to receive its outstanding fees.  Consequently, under this fact pattern, Senator Smith has reason to believe that his business will receive a direct benefit if the legislation in question becomes law.  Therefore, pursuant to §1-85, he must recuse himself from this specific matter.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-15:  Application Of The Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-83(a)(1) Statement Of Financial Interests Filing Requirement To University Of Connecticut Health Center Employees  

Questions arose whether the designation of the position of Director of Risk Management ( UCONN Health Center ) to file an annual Statement of Financial Interests (SFI) with the Office of State Ethics was appropriate.  

Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-83(a), the Governor can require the filing of SFIs by designated executive branch and quasi-public agency employees.   Under this grant of authority, the Governor has required filing by “all persons…who exercise significant policy-making, regulatory or contractual authority.”  In implementation of this standard, the President of UCONN, as the head of the Health Center , designated the Director of Risk Management because the position “…was deemed to be capable of significantly shaping University policy with respect to malpractice awards and of effectively recommending settlement awards.”  

It is not within the Office of State Ethics’s responsibility to designate or undesignate positions required to file pursuant to the Governor’s standards.   Therefore, the individual who, in 2003, performs the duties of Director of Risk Management shall file an SFI commencing with the filing due May 1, 2003 .

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-16:  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To The Arts Commission’s Creation Of A Nonprofit Entity 

The Executive Director of the Commission on the Arts asked the Office of State Ethics for an opinion regarding the Arts Commission’s plan to create a nonprofit entity to promote programs in Connecticut and to raise funds from private sources to support these programs.  

No Arts Commission official or employee will receive any additional remuneration for work on behalf of the nonprofit.  Additionally, any gift or donation solicited or received by the nonprofit is solely intended to further the organization’s mission, and is not to be utilized for the personal benefit of any Commission official or employee.   As a consequence of these restrictions, the Arts Commission’s plans to create and operate a nonprofit fund are in full compliance with the requirements of the Ethics Code.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-17:  Application Of The Code To UCONN Athletic Department Expense Reimbursements 

Under the Office of State Ethics’s valuation rules, family of UCONN team coaches who travel on team charters must reimburse UCONN the cost of a commercial coach airline ticket to and from the destination in question.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-18:  Application Of Post-State Employment Provisions of 1-84b(b) To The Former Employee’s Application To His Former Agency For Licensure

Under §1-84b(b) of the Ethics Code, a former state employee may not appear before his or her former agency, for compensation, for a period of one year after leaving state service.  

The Commission was asked whether this provision would prohibit a former employee from appearing before his or her former agency within the proscribed period to seek and obtain a required occupation or professional license.   It does not.  Rather such necessary, uncompensated, appearances are specifically permitted by Commission Regulations.   See, §1-81-18(c).  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-19:  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To Department Of Consumer Protection Occupational And Licensing Inspector Seeking Election To Paid Office Of Union Whose Members Are Regulated By The Department

The Commission was asked how the Ethics Code would apply to a Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) employee who was seeking election to the paid position of business manager of his union.  The employee, an occupational and licensing inspector, would resign his DCP position if elected.  

It would be a conflict of interests, under the Code, for the employee to conduct inspections of union and nonunion work during his campaign for paid union office.  Therefore, during this period, the DCP should reassign the individual to alternative work.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-20:  Application Of The Contingent Fee Ban To Attorneys Appearing Before The General Assembly Regarding Claims Against The State

The Commission was asked whether attorneys with clients who wish to sue the State may represent these claimants before the General Assembly on a contingent fee basis.  

In general, such representation would be prohibited as impermissible contingent fee lobbying.  If, however, the attorneys limit their legislative work to appearances before the Judiciary Committee, they may pursue their clients’ claims on a contingent fee basis under a statutory exception to be Lobbyist Code’s definition of “Lobbyist.”  See, §1-91(1)(4).  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-21:  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84(i) To Compensation Agreement Of Director Of Office Of Workforce Competitiveness 

The Commission was asked whether the hiring of the Director of the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, under a personal services agreement, was in compliance with the provisions of the Ethics Code.  Specifically, the Auditors of Public Accounts questioned whether the hiring met the open and public contract rules set forth in §1-84(i) of the Code.   That subsection requires certain procedures whenever a public official or state employee enters into a contract with the State, including a contract for personal services.

When the Director entered into her original personal services agreement she was not yet a public official and the requirements of §1-84(i) did not apply.   When the Director entered into subsequent yearly renewals of her agreement, she was a public official.  However, as the Commission has previously held, §1-84(i) does not apply to the routine renewal of previously existing contracts.  

This conclusion is not only consistent with contract laws and Commission precedent; it is consistent with common sense.  Subsection 1-84(i) was intended to insure that state contracts for goods and services are openly and fairly awarded.  This Code provision was not intended to require that the Governor go through a process of prior public offer before appointing his agency heads.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-22:  Application Of Post-State Employment Provisions Of §1-84b(f) To Employment With Or Ownership Of Subcontracting Company

Pursuant to §1-84b(f) of the Ethics Code, no former state servant who participated substantially in the negotiation or award of a state contract valued at $50,000 or more may accept employment with a party to the contract for one year after separation from state service if such separation occurs less than one year after the contract is signed.  

This Opinion reiterates that the 1-84b(f) employment prohibition includes work as an independent contractor.  

The Opinion also held that it would constitute an improper use of office for a former state employee to accept employment with an entity when, in his state capacity, he facilitated creation of the job opportunity in question.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-23:  Application Of The Code To Acceptance Of Outside Employment Involving One’s Field Of State Authority 

This Opinion held that it would constitute an impermissible impairment of judgement and misuse of office, in violation of §§1-84(b) and (c) of the Code, for a state employee with contract management responsibilities to accept outside employment as a business manager for an entity which receives grants or contracts from the individual’s state agency.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-24:  Application Of The Code’s Post-State Employment Provisions To The Governor’s Former Co-Chief of Staff 

The Governor’s former Co-Chief of Staff, Sidney Holbrook, asked how the Code’s post-state employment provisions would apply to his plans to engage in lobbying.  

Under these provisions, for one year after separation from the Governor’s staff, Mr. Holbrook may not engage in compensated lobbying of the Governor’s Office.  He may, however, immediately commence lobbying of the General Assembly.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-25:  Application Of The Ethics Code’s Post-State Employment Provisions To A State Employee Whose Last Day On The Job Is Earlier Than Her Resignation Date 

In certain instances, a state employee’s last day on the job will be earlier than his or her resignation date, with the individual utilizing accrued vacation time in the interim.  Under such circumstances, it is the resignation date which triggers application of the Code’s post-state employment provisions.  

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2002-26:  Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To The Practice Of Recommending A Charity To Defendants In Minor Criminal Cases
It is a common practice of the State’s Attorneys to offer defendants in minor criminal cases the opportunity to make monetary contributions to charitable organizations for disposition of their cases in court.  If, however, a state employee has a financial interest in such a charitable entity or receives compensation from the entity, he or she is prohibited, under the Code, from recommending that entity as the potential recipient of the contribution.

 


 

-2001-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-1 Application Of Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To Members Of Underground Storage Tank Petroleum Clean-Up Fund Review Board

An attorney/member of a state regulatory board may not communicate with agency staff employed by the board on behalf of a paying client (e.g., to request priority in scheduling a matter). Furthermore, an attorney/board member may not accept a new client regarding a matter requiring board action without violating the Code’s bans on acceptance of employment which impairs independence of judgement and misuse of public position for financial gain. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§1-84(b) and (c). An attorney/member of a state regulatory board may not communicate with agency staff employed by the board on behalf of a paying client (e.g., to request priority in scheduling a matter). Furthermore, an attorney/board member may not accept a new client regarding a matter requiring board action without violating the Code’s bans on acceptance of employment which impairs independence of judgement and misuse of public position for financial gain. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§1-84(b) and (c). An attorney/member of a state regulatory board may not communicate with agency staff employed by the board on behalf of a paying client (e.g., to request priority in scheduling a matter). Furthermore, an attorney/board member may not accept a new client regarding a matter requiring board action without violating the Code’s bans on acceptance of employment which impairs independence of judgement and misuse of public position for financial gain. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§1-84(b) and (c). An attorney/member of a state regulatory board may not communicate with agency staff employed by the board on behalf of a paying client (e.g., to request priority in scheduling a matter). Furthermore, an attorney/board member may not accept a new client regarding a matter requiring board action without violating the Code’s bans on acceptance of employment which impairs independence of judgement and misuse of public position for financial gain. Conn. Gen. Stat. §§1-84(b) and (c).

On the other hand, if a current client or clients of the attorney/board member’s firm have isolated cases before the board, recusal by the attorney/board member is the appropriate action. However, if and when such recusals become so frequent as to impair the member’s ability to fulfill his or her official responsibilities, the individual should resign.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-2 Application Of Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To State Marshals

State Marshals have replaced sheriffs in the provision of legal executions and the service of process. Given the manner of their appointment and remuneration, these marshals are neither "Public officials" nor "State employees" for purposes of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-3  Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To Members Of The Investment Advisory Council

Neither a member of the Investment Advisory Council (IAC) nor his or her business may contract to provide any services for the investment of State Of Connecticut Trust Funds. See, P.A. No. 00-43 at §1. Under The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials, however, an IAC member, in his or her private work, is not precluded from seeking investors for a private fund, even if such potential investors are providers of services to the State’s Trust Funds. Nor would such investors be precluded from continuing to provide or seeking to provide investment services to the Office Of The Treasurer regarding these Trust Funds.

In order to avoid a violation of the Code’s use of office provision, however, the member may not reference his or her IAC affiliation in any solicitation of private investments. Furthermore, to avoid any potential conflict of interests, the IAC member must recuse if an investor, or potential investor, in the member’s private business comes before the IAC for any required official action.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-4 Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Official To The Former Commissioner Of The Department Of Public Safety  

The Commission reviewed the compensation agreement entered into by the State and Dr. Henry Lee, former Commissioner of Public Safety, which had been the subject of a recent Auditors’ Report.

The Commission concluded that no action taken by Dr. Lee violated any provision of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials. In issuing this Opinion, the Commission emphasized that it in no way sought to minimize the legitimate policy concerns raised by the Auditors.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-5  Application Of Code Of Ethics To Department Of Motor Vehicles Employee Whose Wife Is Employed By Private Emission Testing Firm 

The wife of a DMV Emissions Division employee serves as a District Manager for Envirotest Systems and oversees eight Connecticut emissions stations. As a consequence, the DMV employee may not accept an agency position which requires him to inspect stations managed by his wife or which allows him access to confidential information regarding the inspections schedule.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-6 Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Reporting Requirements To In-House Communicator Lobbyists

In reporting the pro rata compensation of in-house communicator lobbyists, a client lobbyist must utilize the actual salary of the individual performing the lobbying. It is not permissible to use the average salary of, for example, all professionals in the government relations unit in an effort to help keep confidential the relative salaries of the unit members.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-7 Application Of The Code To The Outside Employment Of A University Professor Which Involves The Supervision Of His Students

The State Ethics Commission, working in conjunction with UCONN and the State Universities, has developed a new policy regarding: outside employment of university professors which involves the supervision of their students; and use of professor authored textbooks by their classes.

All concerned recognize that both courses of conduct present the opportunity for conflicts of interest in violation of §§1-84(b) and (c) of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials. At the same time, the schools assert, and the Commission acknowledges, that both also present potential benefits for Connecticut’s public university students (e.g., continuity of instruction, increased employment opportunities, access to the most appropriate texts, etc).

As a consequence, the Commission will allow the activities in question, provided a university review committee, composed of individuals not subordinate to the requesting professor, approves any outside employment or textbook request in advance. In the case of outside employment, the student will also have ongoing recourse to the review committee in order to address any potential grievances (e.g. concerns regarding fair compensation) that may arise. The Office of State Ethics is committed to allowing the review panel process adequate time to establish that these procedures can, in fact, prevent the potential ethical conflicts in question.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-8 Application Of The Provisions Of The Lobbyist Code To the Proper Valuation Of Receptions

In the aftermath of the Commission’s $30,000 sanction of ESPN for Lobbyist Code gift and reporting violations, the Commission has been asked: 1. How to properly calculate the number of anticipated attendees at an event for purposes of determining the per person cost; and 2. Whether, and to what extent, room rental can be deducted from the cost of an event in determining the value of the per person benefit.

1. Under the Lobbyist Code, a lobbyist donor can calculate per person cost based on "the number of persons whom the donor reasonably expects to attend" an event. In order to substantiate this number, however, the lobbyist must obtain (and preserve for three years) a contract or other credible documentation.

2. Under the Lobbyist Code, a "Gift" is "anything of value, which is directly and personally received." In implementing this definition, Commission Regulations allow the exclusion of overhead costs including ordinary and customary room rental. In the ESPN case, however, the restaurant assessed a "room rental" fee of $10,000; equal to fifty

percent of the actual cost of the food and drink ($20,000). As a matter of policy, in the future the Commission will not allow the routine deduction of such amounts as overhead. In fact, to do so would allow lobbyists to host inappropriately expensive events by arbitrarily attributing a substantial portion of the cost to "room rental".

Lobbyists with specific questions regarding these two rulings should seek guidance from a Commission attorney before hosting an event benefiting Connecticut public officials.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-9 Application Of The Statement Of Financial Interests Filing Requirement To Newly Elected Legislators

The Commission was asked whether, and if so why, newly elected legislators must file Statements Of Financial Interests (SFIs) for calendar year 2000.

The answer to the first question is yes. Under the statutory language in effect since 1978 any designated filers holding an office in 2001 must file for 2000. The policy underlying the requirement is twofold: 1. The statement provides a baseline of information which can be used in subsequent years to determine potential misuse of office; and 2. Given that the large majority of filers maintain many of their financial interests from year to year, the prior year’s SFI can provide useful information in identifying potential conflicts of interests.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-10 Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Contingent Fee Ban To A Lobbying Contract Contingent On A Prior Research Contract

A lobbyist business organization asked if the following contractual arrangement was permitted under the Lobbyist Code’s contingent fee ban. The prohibition states that "No person shall be employed as a lobbyist for compensation which is contingent upon the outcome of any administrative or legislative action."

Under the proposed arrangement, a corporation would retain the business organization at a fixed hourly rate to research whether the State is a potential source of contracts. If the research is positive, the Corporation will renegotiate its contract with the business organization; paying it a substantially increased fixed rate to lobbying for the contracts in question.

Under the proposed arrangement, the renegotiated, second contract is clearly contingent upon the outcome of the first contract. However, it is not contingent "upon the outcome of any administrative … action". Therefore, the arrangement is not prohibited under §1-97(b) of the Lobbyist Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-11 Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Gift Limits And Reporting Requirements To A Municipal Client  

The Commission was asked whether the Lobbyist Code’s gift limits and benefit reporting requirements apply to a municipality which retains a lobbyist business organization to represent its interests before the General Assembly.

Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-91(l)(1), the municipality and its elected and appointed officials are exempt from the definition of "Lobbyist". Therefore, the Code’s gift and reporting requirements do not apply. If, however, the municipality or a or a municipal official gives a benefit to a legislator in furtherance of lobbying (or otherwise because of the legislator’s state position) a $100 per beneficiary annual limit will apply. See. Advisory Opinion No. 98-9 and Commission Regulation 1-81-30(a): receipt of benefits over $100 in a year furnished by virtue of one’s state position constitutes an improper use of office for financial gain in violation of §1-84(c) of the Public Officials Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-12 Application Of The Code’s Gift Limits And Use Of Office Provision To The Acceptance Of Circus Tickets

In recent years, with Office of State Ethics approval, the Ringling Brothers Circus (the Circus) has offered to each state legislator four tickets to its event (with a face value of $18.75 per ticket). This year, however, a legislator has asked for 50 additional tickets to distribute to his constituents. The Circus has asked whether granting this additional request is proper under the requirements of the Ethics Codes.

Given that the Circus is not a registered lobbyist and is not doing business with, seeking business from or regulated by the General Assembly, it is not subject to the Code’s strict gift limits which prohibit the provision or receipt of items with a value of en dollars or more.

The Circus’ largesse is, however, subject to an alternative benefit limitation. Specifically, by Advisory Opinion and Regulation, the Commission had ruled that it would be an inappropriate use of office for a public official to accept benefits of over a $100 in year which were bestowed solely by virtue of official position. Therefore the acceptance of four tickets (value $75) is permissible; but the acceptance of 50 tickets (value $937.50) is not.

Alternatively, if the legislator has a specific purpose for the tickets (e.g., distribution to a group of disadvantaged children) he may convey the purpose to the Circus. At that point, consistent with the requirements of the Ethics Code, the Circus may independently decide whether to directly provide free tickets to the group in question.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-13 Interpretation Of The Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-83 Securities Disclosure Requirement 

Under the annual Statement of Financial Interests (SFI) disclosure requirement, one category of information reported is securities owned which had a fair market value in excess of $5,000.

The Commission was asked whether this requirement applies to securities held at any time during the reporting year or only to securities held on December thirty-first.

For both legal and public policy reasons, the requirement applies to securities held at any time during the reporting year. Legally, the statute requires "…a statement of financial interests for the preceding calendar year…." Clearly, under this language, a statement capturing only those interests held at the end of the year is insufficient. Furthermore, a fundamental policy consideration underlying the statutory requirement, disclosure of holdings creating the potential for conflicts of interests, would be thwarted by such a construction.

Finally, the Commission notes that the disclosure thresholds for this and other categories of SFI reporting have not increased since 1978. Therefore, as part of its 2002 legislative program, the Commission will consider proposing increases in these threshold amounts.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-14 Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Registration And Reporting Requirements To On-line Communications

The Commission was asked how the Lobbyist Code’s registration and reporting requirements apply to on-line communications.

As a threshold issue, the Commission has previously ruled that on-line communications intended to influence legislative or administrative action constitute lobbying.

Although e-lobbying utilizes new technologies, determination of its costs, for purposes of the Code, is not materially different from the determinations made regarding traditional lobbying efforts. Specifically, the personnel and material (e.g., hardware and software) costs of establishing and hosting a website or producing a grass roots e-mail campaign for the purpose of influencing state action should be included in calculating whether registration and reporting is required. Additionally, the cost of any phone lines utilized, Internet access charges, and the rental cost of office space (for any month the office is used primarily for lobbying) would need to be factored into the entity’s calculations. It will not, however, be necessary to attribute any additional costs to actual e-mail communications, since, by virtue of the technology, such communications, no matter how numerous, are essentially free once the underlying expenditures have been taken into account.

Finally, one important statutory exception should be noted. Under the Code "a newsletter or other release" sent by an organization or entity to "its members, shareholders or employees" need not be included for registration or reporting purposes. The Commission holds than an e-mail or other on-line communication constitutes an "other release" and therefore may qualify for the exemption in question.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-15 Application Of The Code To DMV Hearing Officers 

The Office of State Ethics was asked whether Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) Hearing Officers could also engage in the private practice of law before the DMV. They may not. Based on applicable precedent (regarding the CHRO) a public official serving in a judicial capacity at an agency (such as the DMV Hearing Officers in question) should not engage in any aspect of the practice of law before that agency. See, Advisory Opinion No. 97-9.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-16 Application Of The Code To A State Official Responsible For Regulating A Facility Administered By The Official’s Spouse 

The Office of State Ethics was asked what procedures were proper when a state administrator was called upon to investigate a complaint regarding a private facility where the state servant’s spouse was the responsible administrator.

Under §1-86a of the Code, the State administrator must notify his or her superior of the potential conflict. Pursuant to that Section and Commission Regulations, the superior must then assign the matter to another decision-maker, who is not a subordinate of the individual with the potential conflict.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-17 Application Of The Code To A DSS Grant Proposal  

The Department of Social Services (DSS) asked the Office of State Ethics whether an agency employee could accept a position (entailing a $5,000 increase in annual compensation) with an entity which had received a DSS grant. The employee in question was responsible for initiating the grant proposal, wrote a portion of it and is identified in the proposal as the prospective Program Director of the grant.

The request is problematic in two aspects. First, given the circumstances, acceptance of the position, and the increased salary, could constitute an impermissible use of office for financial gain. Second, given that the grant was over $50,000, acceptance of a position with the grantee could violate one of the Code’s post-state employment provisions.

Notwithstanding these potential conflicts, it should be acknowledged that the project in question is a collaborative, non-profit effort intended to benefit Connecticut’s children. Given these factors, the Commission will sanction the employment in question, provided that, during the first year, the individual earns no more than her current salary and benefits. This result will remove any impermissible financial gain while allowing DSS to go forward in a manner which it has determined best fulfills the Department’s statutory mission.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-18 Application Of The Code To Employment Opportunities Related To The University Of Connecticut Research And Development Corporation 

The former Chancellor and Provost at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Dr. Leslie Cutler, asked how the Code applied to certain employment opportunities he may wish to pursue. Currently, he is employed two days per week at the University Center For Science And Technology Commercialization.

Dr. Cutler’s questions focus on the University’s Research and Development Corporation (R&D Corp.). Created by the University of Connecticut Foundation (Foundation) the R&D Corp. is a for-profit entity with the Foundation as its sole shareholder. The mission of the R&D Corp. is to commercialize technological discoveries generated by University personnel through the creation of new businesses.

Based on these facts, Dr. Cutler wishes to know whether he may accept outside employment with a company whose creations are based on the University’s intellectual property. Additionally, if he resigns his state position, he wishes to know whether he may accept employment with either the R&D Corp. or a company created by the R&D Corp.

As a part-time employee, Dr. Cutler remains subject to the requirements of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials. Therefore, he will be prohibited from accepting outside employment with a company if: he was substantially involved, in a state capacity, in the provision of intellectual property to the company; he has state oversight responsibility regarding the company; or he has the authority to participate in the award of future intellectual property to the company.

If he resigns his state position, Dr. Cutler will be subject to the Code’s post-state employment provisions. Most importantly, he will be prohibited, for one year, from accepting employment with any entity, if, during his last year of state service, he participated substantially in or supervised the award of a state contract, valued at $50,000 or more, to that entity. Additionally, he may not engage in compensated representation before his former agency, i.e., the University of Connecticut, for a period of one year after his resignation.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-19 Application Of The Code To A State Employee’s Outside Marketing Efforts  

A state employee with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), who has an outside, part-time business, asked whether she is eligible to participate in the State’s Minority And Small Business Set-Aside Program.

The answer is yes. It should be remembered, however, that under §1-84(i) of the Code any state contract she receives must be awarded through an open and public process.

Additionally, one aspect of the business, the sale of air purification products, merits special attention. Specifically, the employee must be scrupulous in avoiding the use of confidential DEP information, and must similarly refrain from any implication that her marketing efforts have the official sanction of the Agency.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-20 Application Of The Code’s Conflict Of Interests Provisions To A Member Of The Connecticut Siting Council  

Philip Ashton, recently appointed to be a public member of the Connecticut Siting Council, asked whether he may have a potential conflict of interests by virtue of his past association with Northeast Utilities (NU) or the Yankee Energy System (Yankee).

Mr. Ashton previously served as an officer of NU and as the CEO of Yankee. However, he has had no employment relationship with either entity since 1996. Pursuant to statute, one of the five public members of the Siting Council may "…have affiliation, past or present, with any utility…." Given that Mr. Ashton’s past affiliation is specifically allowed by statute, it cannot create an impermissible conflict under the Ethics Code.

By virtue of his prior employment, Mr. Ashton has certain pension rights. However, these rights cannot be forseeably affected by his actions on the Council; and, therefore, create no conflict which would restrict his performance of official duties.

Finally, Mr. Ashton has divested himself of all NU stock and issued directives to his investment account managers to avoid transactions in companies subject to the jurisdiction of the Siting Council. As a consequence of these actions, he may, consistent with the requirements of the Code, perform the full range of duties of a public member of the Siting Council.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-21 Application Of The Code’s Post-State Employment Provisions To The Former Director Of Contracts And Purchasing For DOIT 

Donald Maloney, former Director of Contracts and Purchasing for the Department of Information Technology (DOIT), asked the Commission for an opinion regarding the application of §1-84b(f) of the Ethics Code to his post-state employment opportunities.

§1-84b(f) states, in pertinent part, that:

No former state servant who participated substantially in or supervised the negotiation or award of a state contract valued at $50,000 or more during his last year of service may accept employment with a party to the contract for one year after resignation.

Given Mr. Maloney’s salient role in DOIT’s procurement practices, he will be deemed to have participated substantially in every contract award of $50,000 or more for computer related systems, hardware, software and consulting services during his last year of state service. As a consequence, he will be prohibited from working for any party to such a contract for one year, regardless of whether the work is performed as an employee or independent contractor.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-22 Acceptance By University Professor Of Honorarium Associated With Fulbright Scholarship 

The Commission was asked whether a state university professor who was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship may accept the resultant honorarium.

Given that the award was bestowed by virtue of the professor’s expertise, not by virtue of his official position, it would not be a violation of the Code’s honorarium ban for him to retain the monies in question.

The scholarship, however, entails two weeks of lectures abroad during the state university’s fall semester. The professor states that he has rearranged his schedule so that he can perform the full range of his academic duties while still accepting the scholarship. To avoid potential improper use of office or acceptance of outside employment which impairs independence of judgment, any such alteration in schedule must be reviewed and approved by the professor’s superior. The issue of whether the professor is able to fulfill all of his state obligations while also accepting the two week scholarship is ultimately a personnel matter to be determined by the university administration and the professor’s bargaining unit.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-23 Application Of The Code’s Post-State Employment Provisions To The Former Director Of Contracts And Purchasing For DOIT-II 

In Advisory Opinion 2001-21, the Commission addressed the application of the Code’s post-state employment provisions to Mr. Donald Maloney, former Director of Contracts and Purchasing for the Department of Information Technology (DOIT).

Now Mr. Maloney has asked whether these "revolving door" provisions would prohibit him, for one year, from responding to DOIT invitations to bid and requests for proposals as a principal supplier of equipment or services. The answer is yes. Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(b), for one year he may not represent anyone other than the State for compensation before his former agency, i.e., DOIT.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-24 Application Of The Code To An Outside Position Offered By Virtue Of One’s Community Prominence  

The President of Housatonic Community College asked whether she could accept a compensated position as a member of the People’s Bank Advisory Board.

The President exercises no official authority which could financially benefit the Bank. She advises, however, that she believes she has been asked to serve by virtue of her state position. Given that the outside compensated work results directly from the President’s official position, her acceptance of remuneration is prohibited under the Code’s use of office provision. Consequently, while she may serve as a volunteer, she may accept no compensation other than necessary expenses.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-25 Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Registration Requirements To Direct Mail Solicitation And Fundraising

An organization entitled the Connecticut Defense of Marriage Committee (the Committee) has distributed a mailing soliciting signatures for a petition and monetary donations to oppose legislation giving "…special privileges…to homosexuals." The petition urges one’s state legislator to resist efforts to sponsor legislation providing "marriage-like benefits to homosexuals"; and requests that the signator list his or her legislator’s name.

The Commission was asked whether this conduct constitutes lobbying. Applying the relevant provisions of the Lobbyist Code, the activity in question clearly falls within the definition of "Lobbying". See, Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-91(k). Consequently, if the Committee has spent or has incurred an obligation to spend $2,000 or more in this calendar year in support of these actions, it must register and file financial disclosure reports with the Commission.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-26 Application Of The Code’s Post-State Employment Provisions To The Implementation Of A Previously Awarded Contract  

A retired Department of Children and Families (DCF) employee has been working on a DCF computer project under a provision which allows state retirees to work up to 120 days per year without affecting their eligibility for retirement benefits.

The employee has now reached her limit for this year. In order to allow her continued participation in the project, the private contractor has offered to hire the individual. DCF wishes to know whether this arrangement is acceptable under the Code of Ethics.

As a threshold matter, a 120 day worker occupies a classified state position for that time period; and, therefore, is considered a state employee for purposes of the Code. As a consequence, the Code’s post-state employment provisions fully apply to the worker at the end of the temporary employment period.

In general, one of these rules (§1-84b(b)) would prohibit the worker from representing her private employer for compensation before her former agency for one year. The principal purpose underlying this provision is to prevent the use of contacts, influence or other insider’s advantage gained during state service to obtain improper benefit in subsequent dealings with the State.

Here, however, the worker will be performing only technical duties, i.e., contract implementation, which involve no such opportunity for improper actions. As a consequence, under Commission precedent the employment arrangement is acceptable, provided the worker refrains from involvement in any matter at issue, e.g., contract amendment, between her private employer and her former agency.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-27 Application Of The Code’s Gift Limitations To A State Employee’s Retirement Party  

The Commission was asked whether one’s retirement from state service constitutes a "major life event" for purposes of the Code’s gift provisions; and, if not, what rules apply to benefits given on such an occasion.

The events which qualify for this exception are listed in Commission Regulations (e.g., the birth of a child) and do not include one’s retirement. Consequently, if an individual is still a state official or employee at the time of his or her retirement party, the Code’s gift limits will apply.

Nonetheless, lobbyists and other regulated givers can still honor the retiree by utilization of one of the Code’s alternative gift limitations: e.g., by presenting the retiree with a plaque costing less than $100 or by making a charitable contribution in the retiree’s name. Additionally, it should be noted that a state servant’s co-workers are not restricted donors, and can, therefore, give personal gifts without limit.

Finally, the Commission notes that the Code’s gift limits apply only while one remains a public official or state employee. As a consequence, lobbyists or other regulated persons could schedule a party for the day after the retiree’s separation from state service and, at that time, give gifts without limits. The Commission, however, believes that such largess is violative of the purpose and spirit of the Code of Ethics and should, therefore, be avoided.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-28 Application Of The Code’s Outside Employment Provisions To A Member Of The Legislative Regulations Review Committee

The Commission was asked whether a legislator who serves on the Legislative Regulations Review Committee (LRRC) and on an LRRC subcommittee which reviews the regulations of a particular agency can consult for clients and vendors of that agency.

By advisory opinion, the Commission has held that Chairpersons of legislative committees should not appear for compensation before agencies subject to their committee’s jurisdiction. Given that the legislator is not a chairperson with cognizance over the agency in question, the consulting work is permissible.

The legislator is reminded, however, that pursuant to §1-84(d) of the Code he may not represent clients before the thirteen agencies listed in that subsection. Additionally, pursuant to §1-86(c) he may not engage in activities which constitute administrative lobbying.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-29 Application Of The Code To The State Employees’ Campaign For Charitable Giving

The Chair of the State Employees’ Campaign for Charitable Giving asked the Commission how the requirements of the Code would apply to silent auctions and raffles conducted by state agencies as part of the Campaign.

The Commission responded as follows:

  1. Items solicited for these activities qualify as "Gifts to the State." Therefore, lobbyists and other regulated persons may make such donations.
  2. In order to prevent conflicts of interests, real or apparent, those members of the Campaign responsible for administering a particular auction or raffle should not also participate as a bidder or ticket purchaser.
  3. To avoid any improper benefit to participating state employees, items solicited from lobbyists or other regulated persons should not be auctioned off for less than fair market value. For the same reason, a raffle of any such item should also return fair market value to the Campaign. If these requirements are unduly burdensome, the Campaign may, alternatively, open up these auctions and raffles to the general public. This alternative will address the Commission’s concerns, and allow the Campaign to proceed under whatever valuation rules it deems appropriate.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-30 Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(a) To The Former General Counsel Of The Department Of Revenue Services

A former General Counsel for the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) asked how §1-84b(a) of the Code applies to his private practice. The provision in question prohibits a former state servant from ‘switching sides’ in a particular matter, if the individual was personally and substantially involved in the matter while in state service and the state has a substantial interest in the issue.

Specifically, the Commission was asked whether this section was limited to particular cases and controversies; or, alternatively, would apply to representation regarding statutes and regulations the former employee worked on while in state service.

The Commission ruled the provision’s application was limited to "particular" cases and controversies, and did not extend to general matters such as agency regulations. To rule otherwise would contradict legislative intent, and unfairly prohibit former state servants from the legitimate use of their expertise.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2001-31 Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To The Members Of The Board Of Directors Of The University Health Center  

The Chief of Staff of the UCONN Health Center asked how The Code Of Ethics would apply to the members of the Center’s new Board of Directors.

Given the manner of their appointment and given their broad state authority, the Board members are "Public officials" subject to the requirements of the Code

As public officials they will, in general, be subject to the Code’s substantive provisions, including its conflict of interest prohibitions, gift bans and post-state employment rules. However, as citizen/officials the members will be exempt from the §1-84(d) prohibition on compensated representation before state agencies. Additionally, they will be exempt from the §1-84(i) requirements regarding open and public contracts, except when those contracts are with the Center. In that instance, §1-84(i) will apply and any member seeking or performing a contract with the Center must strictly recuse from official involvement in the matter.

Finally, the members are potentially subject to the annual financial disclosure requirements of §1-83. The determination of which, if any, Board members will be required to file this statement rests with the University Administration acting pursuant to criteria established by the Governor.

 


 

-2000-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-1 Coca-Cola Marketing Efforts Utilizing Coach Jim Calhoun In Conjunction With The UCONN Name Or Logo

UCONN Menes Basketball Coach Jim Calhoun can appear in Coca-Cola advertisements utilizing the UCONN name and/or logo when: 1. The Company has separate and distinct endorsement agreements with the Coach and the University; and 2. The Coach will not receive any additional compensation, under his preexisting endorsement contract, for the joint marketing efforts.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-2  Application Of Contingent Fee Ban To Stock Options

Application Of Contingent Fee Ban To Stock Options The Lobbyist Code’s contingent fee ban will prohibit the receipt of stock options in a "start-up" company as compensation for lobbying, when the value of the options will be substantially determined by the success of the lobbying efforts.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-3 Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-97(d) Notification Requirements To A Law Firm Making Expenditures On Behalf Of Its Lobbying Subsidiary

A law firm has established a separate lobbying unit. This Unit reports its lobbying receipts and expenditures pursuant to the requirements of the Lobbyist Code. The law firm, however, has continued to disclose its annual holiday party to the Office of State Ethics, since numerous public officials and state employees are invited to the event to foster good will for the firm’s lobbying entity. Under these circumstances, the firm must also comply with the related notification requirements set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-97(d). A law firm has established a separate lobbying unit. This Unit reports its lobbying receipts and expenditures pursuant to the requirements of the Lobbyist Code. The law firm, however, has continued to disclose its annual holiday party to the Office of State Ethics, since numerous public officials and state employees are invited to the event to foster good will for the firm’s lobbying entity. Under these circumstances, the firm must also comply with the related notification requirements set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-97(d).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-4  Application Of The Ethics Code To The Sale Of Surplus Computers To Judicial Branch Employees

The Judicial Department may not sell surplus computers to its employees, unless, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84( i), there is a prior public offer of the sale allowing the general public equal access to the equipment.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-5  Application Of The Lobbyist Registration And Reporting Requirements To Certain Work Performed By Attorney

A lawyer, as a service to his clients, contacts legislators and sends out a mailing regarding a legislative issue of interest and concern to his clientele. An association, formed by a group of lawyers active in this field of practice, also retains a professional lobbyist.

Under these circumstances, the Association and the professional lobbyist must register. The lawyer, who is not compensated by any client for the activities in question, need not register as a lobbyist. However, the Association must report the cost of the attorney’s mailing as an activity in furtherance of lobbying.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-6  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To Outside Employment When The Employer Declines To Disclose The Terms Of The Employment Contract To The Ethics Commission

A private employer wishes to hire a state employee as a consultant. Both parties have assured the Ethics Commission that no conflict of interest is engendered by the proposed employment. However, due to a : concern regarding the release of proprietary information, the employer has refused to disclose the specifics of the proposed consulting contract to the Commission.

Under the circumstances, the Ethics Commission cannot sanction the work in question. Simply stated, absent disclosure of the information in question, the Commission cannot fulfill its statutory mandate to insure that the activity at issue is not inconsistent with the requirements of the Ethics Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-7  Application Of The Code To The CRRA’s Participation In The Management Of Private Entities In Which The Authority Has An Interest

The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA) asked how the Ethics Code would apply to CRRA’s management of private entities in which the Authority had an interest.

Specifically, the CRRA wished to know whether Authority employees could serve on the board of directors of a private company: the operations of which were directly related to and supported the CRRA’s mission; or in which the CRRA had an equity interest. Additionally, the CRRA asked whether one or more of its employees could assist in the full time management of the entity in which the Authority had a financial stake; and, if so, whether these employees could be paid by the private company.

No provision of the Code would prohibit a CRRA employee from serving as a director of an entity in order to protect or represent the CRRA’s interests or investments in such entity, provided the employee receives no remuneration other than his or her CRRA compensation. It must be remember, however, that when serving in this capacity the CRRA employee remains fully subject to the provisions of the Code.

Additionally, a CRRA employee may provide full time management services to an entity in which the Authority has an equity interest. However, it would be a fundamental conflict of interests for the employee’s compensation to be determined or directly provided by the private entity the individual is charged with managing on behalf of the State.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-8  Application Of The Code’s Conflict Of Interest Provisions To The Award Of A State Contract

The Comptroller asked the Office of State Ethics whether she could appoint her Information Technology Director to the position of Project Coordinator for the State’s planned upgrade of its core financial computer systems.

One aspect of the upgrade involves the selection of an Enterprise Resource Planning Software package (estimated contract value: 10 million dollars). Among the companies expected to bid on the package is Oracle, where the proposed Project coordinator’s fiancée is employed. The fiancée will have no involvement with the project in question, nor is the individual’s compensation in any way tied to the work. The fiancée does, however, own 722 shares of Oracle (with an option on 5251 more) out of the Company’s 3 billion shares.

Under these circumstances, there, is no conflict of interests, even if the state and Oracle employee are married by the time the contract at issue is awarded.

Specifically, the Code’s conflicted interests provisions do not prohibit a state employee from taking official action regarding the employer of one’s spouse, unless the financial interest of the spouse are directly affected.

With regard to the stock ownership, it is essentially impossible to reasonably predict or attribute any specific effect on Oracle’s stock price resulting from the award of the contract at issue.

As a consequence, no provision of the Code would prevent the Comptroller from appointing her Director of Information Technology to the Project Coordinator position in question.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-9  Application Of The Code To Bonus Payment Clauses In UCONN Coaches’ Consultant Contracts

Over the past several years, the Office of State Ethics has reviewed and approved, with certain modifications, various outside endorsement and consultant contracts entered into by UCONN athletic coaches. The most common of these contracts involves the retention of the coach as consultant by an athletic apparel or shoe company.

In essence, the Commission has allowed the coaches to benefit from the prominence that results from their professional success. At the same time, the Commission has prohibited any agreement that impairs independence of judgment or necessitates the inappropriate use of public position in violation of Conn. Gen. §§1-84(b)or (c).

The legality, under The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials, of one contractual provision remains to be determined. Specifically, it is not uncommon for the consultant contracts in question to include a clause which provides for addition compensation, if the coach’s team: makes the NCAA tournament in its field of play; advances to certain levels of the tournament; or wins a national championship. The Office of State Ethics must now decide if such "bonus" payments are legitimate compensation resulting from the coach’s enhanced reputation and consequent enhanced value to the company; or whether the payments represent additional compensation for performing one’s state job, and are, therefore, barred under Commission precedent.

In support of the legitimacy of these bonus clauses, certain coaches and companies have asserted that the payments are justified, since tournament game appearances provide additional opportunities for the coach to appear, often in the national media, wearing the company’s clothing or insignia. Alternatively, it has been asserted that coaching success, as objectively quantified by tournament participation and advancement, translates into greater over all exposure for the coach, and, consequently, increased marketability as a company representative.

The Office of State Ethics is persuaded by these arguments. As has been previously noted by the Commission, UCONN coaches, while subject to the Ethics Code, constitute a distinct class of state employees in that their prominence often transcends their state positions and results, by and large, from their expertise, not their state authority.

As a consequence of this analysis, the Ethics Commission hereby sanctions the bonus payments in question as appropriate remuneration based on the coach’s increased prominence and resultant increased marketing value to the company he or she represents.

Such payments will be permitted under the Code as long as they are not in conflict with the coach’s State responsibilities.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-10  Application Of The Code To Teacher’s Bargaining Representative Serving On Arbitration Panel   

The Director Of Development (Director) of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) asked whether it would be permissible, under the Code, for him to serve on an arbitration panel if an advocate appearing before the panel was one of his CEA subordinates.

The panel in question is a three member arbitration board with the authority to issue awards in cases not settled during negotiation or mediation. One member of the panel is neutral; one represents teachers’ unions; and one represents boards of education. The Director would serve as the union representative on the panel.

As the Commission has previously held, when the General Assembly provides for the appointment to a board of someone with an inherent conflict of interests, it in effect grants that person a waiver of certain conflict of interest provisions of the Code. In this case, the Director’s very presence on the panel is as an inherently biased representative of the unions. The absence or presence of a CEA subordinate in an advocacy role neither exacerbates or ameliorates this fact. Therefore, the contemplated service is permissible under the requirements of the Ethics Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-11 Application Of The Code Of Ethics To Coach Calhoun’s Nike Contract

In conjunction with Coach Calhoun’s attorneys, Office of State Ethics staff reviewed a consultant contract proposed by Nike. Four problematic provisions were identified. In summary, the provisions would have either required the Coach to use his official position for the benefit of Nike (e.g., Coach would have been required to provide Nike products to Team and use his best efforts to have Team wear these items during games, practices and related activities); or would have impaired his independence of judgment (e.g., Coach would have been required to accompany Team on exhibition trip to Europe in connection with promotion and sale of Nike products).

The Commission found that these proposed provisions would violate §§1-84(b) and (c) of the Ethics Code. As a consequence, and with the full cooperation of Coach Calhoun, the contract was revised and the impermissible provisions removed. The resultant, amended Agreement is in full compliance with the Ethics Code; and, therefore, constitutes permissible outside employment for Coach Calhoun.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-12 Application Of Code Of Ethics To Advisory Committee Members Seeking To Bid On Requests For Proposals Based On Advisory Committee Recommendations

Representatives Lawlor and Amann asked whether certain private entities could serve on the Sex Offenders Policy Advisory Committee. The Committee is being established to make recommendations concerning public safety relative to sex offenders, and to promote cooperation among public and private agencies and providers which furnish assessment, treatment and victim advocacy.

Certain recommendations of the Committee will likely include proposals for new or increased funding for programs and services. It is foreseeable that one or more of the private entities asked to serve on the Committee may wish to seek state contacts if such funding is approved. The Representatives note that it is clearly in the State’s interest to have entities and individuals with specialized expertise included on the Committee. Consequently, they have asked how the provisions of the Code of Ethics would impact any such private entity/committee member.

The entities in question will be exempt from the Ethics Code as "Member[s] of an advisory board". Specifically, these entities will have no role in drafting requests for proposals (RFPs) or awarding contracts. These functions will be performed exclusively by the appropriate state agencies. Consequently, under the Code, the entities may provide expertise to the Advisory Committee and, subsequently, bid on any contracts that may result from the Committee’s recommendations.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-13 Application Of The Term "Member Of An Advisory Board" To The Members Of The Renewable Energy Investments Advisory Committee

Under the provisions of The Code Of Ethics, the members of the Renewable Energy Investments Advisory Committee (Committee) qualify as exempt: "Member[s] of an advisory board". Specifically, Committee members have no authority to expend state funds or otherwise exercise the authority of the State. Rather, their duties are essentially limited to recommendations and review regarding the Connecticut Innovations, Inc.’s management of the Renewable Energy Investment Fund.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-14  Necessary Expense Filing Requirements On Grant-Funded Programs

If a private entity (e.g. a pharmaceutical firm) provides grant monies to a state agency (e.g. the UCONN Health Center) which are used, in part, to pay for a state employee’s expenses to attend a conference to present research findings, no necessary expense form is required under the provisions of the Ethics Code. Rather, any such disclosure is part of the agency’s records and subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. If, however, the private entity pays for the expenses directly, and over-night lodging and/or out-of-state travel are included, the recipient-employee must file a disclosure form with the Commission within thirty days.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-15 Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Contingent Fee Ban To Referenda

The Lobbyist Code’s ban on contingent fees applies to fees which are contingent upon the outcome of "any administrative or legislative action." The ban does not apply to such payments made incident to statewide referendum (e.g., the proposed constitutional amendment regarding the abolition of the Office Of High Sheriff).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-16 Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(b) To Insurance Department Contracts

This Opinion summarizes the Ethics Code’s "revolving door" provisions with regard to a former employee of the Insurance Department.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-17 Application Of Code Of Ethics To Department Of Consumer Protection Employees’ Off-Duty Activities At The Foxwoods Casino The Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection asked whether the Ethics Code would prohibit his employees who perform liquor control activities at the Foxwoods Casino from gambling at the Casino when not on duty.

The Code regulates outside employment, but does not extend to essentially recreational activity such as gaming. Therefore, no Code provision would prohibit DCP liquor control agents from gambling at Foxwoods. Nevertheless, the DCP is not precluded by this Opinion from establishing such a policy if the Department deems it appropriate.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-18 Deputy Sheriff Serving Process

A Deputy Sheriff may not simultaneously hold position as courthouse special deputy under Commission precedent, as it is a conflict of interests for an individual to simultaneously serve process and hold the position of a courthouse special deputy sheriff.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-19 Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Gift Restrictions And Reporting Requirements To Expenditures Made At The National Political Conventions The Commission was asked whether and how the Lobbyist Code’s gift restrictions and reporting requirements apply to expenditures for food and drink or entertainment made at the two major party national conventions.

The Code’s gift restrictions and reporting requirements apply whether the expenditures are made in or outside of Connecticut and whether the purpose of the event is in furtherance of or unrelated to lobbying. Therefore, these provisions unquestionably apply to lobbyist expenditures made at, or incident to, the national conventions.

This conclusion applies regardless of whether the expenditures are made directly by the Connecticut lobbyist or indirectly by a national association or business entity "on behalf" of the Connecticut lobbyist. Furthermore, this conclusion applies to convention events underwritten by the Connecticut lobbyist, if its donations to the political convention committees were made with the explicit understanding that the monies would be used to pay for an event at which Connecticut officials would be in attendance.

If, however, the Connecticut lobbyist makes an unrestricted contribution to help fund the costs of staging a national convention, such expenditures are beyond the purview of the Office of State Ethics. Simply stated, the linkage between general contributions from a Connecticut lobbyist to a national political committee and the subsequent usage of a portion of these monies to entertain Connecticut officials at a national convention is too attenuated to trigger the Code’s gift restrictions and reporting requirements. It can be argued, with a certain persuasiveness, that this holding allows both lobbyists and public officials to circumvent the requirements of the Ethics Codes. To the extent this is true, however, such a result is a function of our nation’s current campaign finance laws; and, hence, beyond this Commission’s ability to redress.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-20 Application Of The Code’s Use Of Office Prohibition To Health Center Faculty Performing Outside Consulting Work Which Utilizes State Resources

A policy has been established at the University of Connecticut Health Center (Center) which allows faculty to participate in academically related activities (e.g., scientific presentations) either as part of their state employment or as outside consulting, utilizing their expertise.

The Center has asked how the Code Of Ethics For Public Officials would apply to this work.

If the faculty member chooses to participate in such activity as a state employee, he or she may utilize state resources (i.e., state facilities, resources and personnel) in the endeavor; with the state receiving any resultant fees or honorariums.

If the faculty member chooses to act as an outside consultant, he or she may retain any resultant income, but may not utilize state resources without violating the Code’s prohibition on use of office for personal gain (§1-84(c)).

This basic holding is not altered by the fact that the work in question may ultimately redound to the benefit of the Center (e.g., by increasing grant funding). However, given this potential, the Commission, with the agreement of the Center, will allow each faculty member to use up to $100 per year in state resources (e.g., phone, copying, etc.) incident to such work without violation of the Code. See, Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies §1-81-30(a): benefits of $100 or less per person per year are deemed de minimis and will not trigger Code violation.

Finally, the Commission cautions that the faculty member may not use his or her official authority to secure administrative assistance (e.g., typing) for outside work. Any such assistance must be voluntarily agreed to by the subordinate and compensated at fair market rates.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2000-21 Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To Members Of The State Insurance And Risk Management Board

The Risk Manager for the State Insurance and Risk Management Board (Board) has asked how The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials applies to members of the Board who are employed by or serve as directors of companies that may do business with the State.

By statute, seven of the Board’s eleven members must "be qualified by training and experience to carry out their duties…." Consequently, the fact of a Board member’s simultaneous employment in the insurance industry does not violate the Code’s ban on outside employment that impairs independence of judgement (§1-84(b)).

If a company in which the board member is a director, officer or owner (see,

§1-79(b)) seeks a contract from the Board, the board member must abstain from any official action on the matter, including action regarding any competitors for the contract. While the Code does not require such abstention from board members who are only employees of the company, to ensure the integrity of the Board’s process, such individuals are also advised to recuse themselves from matters pertaining to their employers.

 


 

-1999-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-1 Application Of Code Of Ethics To Outside Employment Of Commission On Fire Prevention And Control Staff Members

The Ethics Code would prohibit a Fire Prevention Commission employee from accepting outside employment with a person or entity subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission, if the employee has supervisory, contractual, regulatory or fiscal authority over that person or entity. Absent this authority, however, the Code would not prohibit the outside employment in question, provided the work is not already required as part of the individual’s state duties.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-2  Application Of The Codes’ Gift And Necessary Expense Provisions To A Legislator’s Attendance At A Lobbyist Association’s Annual Conference

Under the Code’s "Gift to the State" provision, as long as an event is educational in nature (e.g., conference) and relevant to the official/employee’s state duties, the Commission will sanction receipt of free conference registration, including any meal held as an integral part of the proceedings.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-3 Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists To The Practice Of Paying Individuals To Secure Places In Line For Speakers At A Legislative Public Hearing

No provision of the Lobbyist Code prohibits or restricts the practice of a lobbyist compensating individuals to reserve places in line at a legislative public hearing for speakers wishing to testify in support of that lobbyist’s position. The Code does, however, mandate the reporting of this activity as an expenditure in furtherance of lobbying.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-4Application Of Lobbyist Code To Connecticut Probate Assembly And Its Outside Legislative Counsel

The Connecticut Probate Assembly, established pursuant to state statute, is exempt from the requirement to register as a lobbyist. If, however, the Assembly hires outside counsel and these individuals engage in lobbying, they must register pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-91(l)(1).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-5Application Of Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To Legislator Employed By, And Member Of, Union

Applying the Code’s conflict of interests provisions to a member of the General Assembly, the Commission reaffirmed its prior rulings that:

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-6  Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Reporting Requirements To Solicitation With Multiple Purposes

Pursuant to the requirements of the Lobbyist Code, a solicitation of the general public to contact their state legislators to request state funding to combat homelessness is reportable as lobbying. When, however, the solicitation has multiple purposes (e.g., request to contact legislators, make donations, and volunteer services) the organization may apportion its costs and report only that percentage which is attributable to its lobbying effort. In doing so, the organization must make an objectively reasonable apportionment supported by documentation which will satisfy the Code’s record-keeping and random audit requirements.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-7  Member Of Board Of Trustees Seeking To Contract With University

A member of the UCONN Board of Trustees asked whether his consulting business could enter into a contract with the University. Under Commission precedent, a board member may not enter into such an agreement, if his Board is responsible for the award or supervision of the contract. Absent Board involvement, the Trustee may seek the consulting work in question. The Board may, however, wish to voluntarily require that any such contract be awarded through an open and public process (a Code requirement which does not ordinarily apply to uncompensated public officials). Finally, if the Board were called upon to vote on a matter which would create the opportunity and/or the funding for a potential contract, the Trustee must recuse himself from that matter.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-8  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §§1-84(b) And (c), To A Judiciary Committee Member Called Upon To vote On The Nomination Or Reappointment Of An Appellate Court Judge When The Attorney Member Has A Case Pending Before The Appellate Court

A legislator/attorney should not vote on the nomination or reappointment of an appellate court judge when the legislator has a case pending before the Appellate Court.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-9  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-86(c ) To Work As A Consultant

Pursuant to §1-86(c) of the Code, no lobbyist may also accept employment with the General Assembly in connection with any legislative matter. Consistent with legislative intent and Commission Regulations, this ban applies to all work for the Legislature, whether as a state employee, or as a consultant.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-10  Acceptance Of Employment As Neutral Arbitrator By Superior Clerk For Housing Matters

A court clerk for Housing matters in Hartford should not accept outside employment as a neutral arbitrator regarding a commercial leave dispute. Specifically, the two interest arbitrators who select the neutral arbitrator are both attorneys who practice before the Hartford Housing Session. Additionally, the clerk is required, as part of his state duties, to provide information and assistance to members of the bar. Under these circumstances, the acceptance of the employment in question would, however inadvertently, violate the §1-84(b) prohibition on acceptance of outside employment which would impair independence of judgment and the §1-84(c) ban on use of office for financial gain.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-11  Application Of The Codes To The Acceptance Of A Scholarship Awarded By A Registered Lobbyist To The Child Of A Public Official

The Connecticut Association of Realtors (Association) have established a scholarship fund. The sole eligibility requirement for the scholarships is that the candidate’s parent must have been a member in good standing of the Association for at least one year.

This year the Scholarship Committee awarded 16 $1,000 scholarships. Although apparently not known at the time of the award one of the recipients is the child of a member of the Real Estate Commission. The Association has now asked whether, under The Codes Of Ethics, it may proceed to grant the scholarship in question.

The Association is a registered lobbyist. The Real Estate Commissioner is a Public Official. None of the Code’s 16 exceptions to the Gift Ban would appear to authorize the scholarship at issue. Nonetheless, the Office of State Ethics believes that, under the facts presented, the scholarship (which was based on academic performance) is an earned award, distinguishable from a gift, and therefore permissible.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-12 Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To Members Of The Children’s Trust Fund Council

Two members of the Children’s Trust Fund Council are also directors of programs that receive substantial funding from the Council. Although certain Council members are required by law to have specified expertise (e.g., "person with expertise in child abuse prevention") the Council’s enabling statute contains no exemption to any of the provisions of The Code Of Ethics. Therefore, as Public Officials, the members are fully subject to the Code.

Consequently:

  • a member may not take action on a Council proposal to fund his or her private agency;
  • a member may not take action on a Council proposal to fund his or her agency’s competitors;
  • a member may not, on behalf of his or her agency, compete against the Council for funding from the General Assembly; and
  • a member’s agency may not accept a Council grant if Council employees are required to audit the member’s outside administration of the grant.

If, as a result of these prohibitions, the member is not able to properly perform his or her official duties, the member should resign.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-13  Application Of Independent Contractor Ethics Rules, Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-86e, To Families And Consumers Receiving Direct Funding From Department Of Mental Retardation

Pursuant to §1-86e of The Code Of Ethics, no state consultant or independent contractor shall use the authority provided by state contract, or any confidential information received, to obtain financial gain for the person, an employee of the person, or a member of the immediate family of any such person or employee.

DMR asked the Commission whether §1-86e applied to DMR clients and their families who have direct control of their agency funding under the "Self-Determination" program. The answer is no. These clients are not consultants or independent contractors hired by the State, and, therefore, the requirements of §1-86e do not apply.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-14  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-86e To The Hiring Of Relatives By Independent Contractors And Their Staff

DMR asked how the restrictions of §1-86e apply to private agencies that contract with DMR and hire family members of the owners or staff as employees or subcontractors.

As a preliminary matter, §1-86e (discussed, supra) will not apply if the employment in question predates the DMR contract. Under these circumstances, DMR will have had an opportunity to review the agency’s staffing prior to entering into any contractual agreement.

Even if the proposal to hire an immediate family member postdates the DMR contract award, §1-86e will not be interpreted to absolutely prohibit the hiring. Rather, the private agency must notify DMR of its intentions and demonstrate why the family member is appropriate. DMR must then determine whether this person is qualified for the job and whether the compensation is market rate. Only if all these criteria are met, will the hiring comply with the requirements of §1-86e.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-15  Application Of Ethics Rules To Acceptance Of Expense Payments To Accompany Department Of Mental Retardation Client To Event

DMR asked how the Ethics Code applies when a DMR employee or an employee of a private agency under contract with DMR accepts payment of expenses from a DMR client to accompany that individual on an outing.

Subsection 1-84(c) of the Code prohibits a state employee from using his or her office for financial gain. Section 1-86e establishes parallel restrictions for employees of private agencies under contract with the State. Therefore, in this instance, application of the Code to state and private agency employees is essentially the same.

Specifically, if a DMR client wishes to reimburse a DMR employee to accompany the client on a trip (e.g., a vacation to Florida) the idea must emanate from the client, the client’s family or guardian, or someone at DMR at or above the potential recipient’s level. Analogously, for a private agency employee, the approval must come from DMR.

In either case, only necessary expenses may be accepted. For example, on a trip to Florida, it would be appropriate to accept airfare, hotel accommodations, and meals. However, the employee should provide his or her own spending money.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-16  Application Of Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists To Private Agencies Under Contract With Department Of Mental Retardation

DMR asked how the Lobbyist Code applies to private agencies under contract with DMR. Specifically, the Commission was asked whether the following activities were considered to be lobbying: 1. participation on a DMR committee developing policies and procedures; 2. requesting a legislator to intercede with DMR regarding a contractual dispute; 3. hosting a reception for area legislators to promote the private agency and its services.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-17Application Of Gift Restrictions To Employees Of Private Agencies Under Contract With Department Of Mental Retardation

DMR asked how the Code’s gift restrictions apply to employees of private agencies under contract with DMR.

As discussed supra, §§1-84(c) and 1-86e establish essentially parallel restrictions for state employees and employees of private providers under contract with the State. Under §1-84(c), the Commission has ruled that it would be an inappropriate use of office to accept more than $100 in gifts in a year from an "unregulated service" (i.e., a source other than a lobbyist or other entity subject to the Code’s Gift Ban).

Therefore, a DMR employee may not accept more than $100 in benefits in a year from a DMR client or the client’s family. Analogously, under §1-86e, an employee of a private provider under contract with DMR is subject to the same restrictions.

Finally, it should be remembered that DMR may establish stricter gift limits for its employees by agency policy and stricter limits for its private providers through the contracting process.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-18  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To Official Action By The Secretary Of OPM Which Affects His Financial Interests

Pursuant to statute, each Connecticut municipality is required to conduct periodic property revaluations. Failure to do so results in a ten percent forfeiture of state aid. However, the Secretary of OPM may waive this forfeiture for reasonable cause.

The City of Waterbury, where OPM Secretary Ryan is a homeowner, is now subject to this forfeiture and has requested a waiver. The Secretary has asked whether, under the requirements of the Code, he may proceed to rule on this matter.

Under §1-86, with exceptions not pertinent, a public official has a potential conflict of interest if he is required to take official action which would affect his financial interests. If Waterbury loses the grant in aid money (ten million dollars per year), its mill up three hundred dollars annually.

Under these circumstances, an agency official is required to recuse himself and allow his superior to make the determination in question. When, however, the official has no immediate superior (e.g., the Secretary of OPM) he must come to the Ethics Commission for guidance.

Secretary Ryan has done this. At the same time, however, he has obviated the need for Commission action by stating that he will donate three hundred dollars annually to the City for each year the potential for a forfeiture exists. Furthermore, to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, the Secretary will make the donation whether or not he decides to grant the waiver.

Secretary Ryan’s decision is commendable and will avoid any conflict of interest, real or apparent.

Following are a series of opinions requested by the Department of Mental Retardation (DMR). The Opinions apply the requirements of the Codes (particularly §1-86e) to private providers that contract with the Department.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-19 Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-86e To Independent Contractors’ Use Of State Funds To Benefit Related Party

The Department of Mental Retardation (DMR) asked how §1-86e of the Ethics code applies to private agencies which contract with DMR and then use state funds to benefit a "related party" (e.g., a parent or subsidiary company or another business owned by an immediate family member).

Under §1-86e, no person hired by the State as an independent contractor shall use the authority provided by the contract to obtain financial gain for the person, an employee of the person, or a member of the immediate family of such person or employee.

As set forth by the Commission in a series of opinions issued last month, to comply with §1-86e, before entering into any subcontract with a related party, the private agency must receive approval from DMR. Additionally, prior to issuing such approval, DMR must insure the subcontractor is qualified, the services are necessary and the compensation is a market rate.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-20 Application Of The Codes’ Gift Provisions To Benefits Of Not More Than Ten Dollars Per Person

The Commission was asked how the Codes’ gift provisions apply to benefits of not more than ten dollars.

Prior to enactment of the gift ban in 1997, benefits of under ten dollars per person "per occasion or transaction" were allowed with no annual limit. When the gift ban was adopted, these benefits were capped at fifty dollars per year and the "per occasion or transaction" language was deleted from the Code. Given this deletion, it is now permissible to provide more than one benefit of up to ten dollars incident to an occasion (e.g., six dollar pen and nine dollar flowers).

When, however, the total per person expenditure for the event is over the itemization threshold (i.e., ten dollars) each allowed benefit must be disclosed.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-21  Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To Special Deputy Sheriffs

The Commission was asked whether special deputy sheriffs are considered state employees subject to The Code of Ethics.

Special deputy sheriffs are appointed by a high sheriff. Under the State Constitution, high sheriffs are members of the Executive Branch of State Government. See, Article Fourth, Section 25. Therefore, for purposes of the Ethics Code, special deputy sheriffs are executive branch employees, and are subject to the provisions of the Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-22  Publication Related To A State Employee’s Official Duties

UCONN Men’s Basketball Coach Jim Calhoun asked the Commission whether, under The Code of Ethics, he could publish a book about the Team’s national championship season. Additionally, he asked whether he could use UCONN’s name in the title.

Under the Ethics Code, a state employee may utilize his expertise, including experience gained in state service, for financial gain, as long as no Code provision is breached. Generally, the Commission has barred outside, for profit publications when: it was already part of the state employee’s job duties to provide the information; or the employee had official authority over the anticipated purchasers of the publication. Neither criteria applies to Coach Calhoun.

Additionally, the Commission has prohibited such activity when the publisher selected the state employee solely because of the credibility his official position lent to the publication. Again, this holding does not apply to Coach Calhoun, since the publisher has indicated it would proceed with the project regardless of whether he remained as UCONN coach. In essence, it is Coach Calhoun’s accomplishments and, resultant notoriety, that provide credibility, and marketability, to the publication. Under these circumstances, he may proceed with the book. Finally, given that it is permissible for Coach Calhoun to receive compensation for writing a book about the championship season, it would be unreasonable to ban the use of the word "UCONN."

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-23  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To The Retention Of Real Estate Broker Or Appraiser Licenses By Consumer Protection Real Estate Examiners

The Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), James Fleming, asked whether his Agency’s real estate examiners could maintain real estate licenses. It has been departmental practice to prohibit such licenses to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. However, Commissioner Fleming believes the Department’s ability to perform certain statutory duties would be enhanced by having licensed professionals on staff. Under no circumstances would the licensed examiners be permitted to engage in outside real estate work.

The Commission has consistently held that conflicts of interest, both real and apparent, are inevitable and unavoidable when a state servant directly responsible for regulating a field of private endeavor seeks to be employed in the same field. However, given the absolute ban on such employment, no provision of the Ethics Code would prohibit DCP real estate examiners from maintaining real estate licenses.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-24  Application Of The Post-Employment Rules To The Loaned Executive Program

Under the Loaned Executive Program various companies and organizations donate the time and talent of their executives to the State. In one such instance, a law firm allowed an attorney to take a leave of absence to work at a quasi-public agency. Now that the attorney has completed his volunteer work, the agency would like to hire him as a consultant. The Commission was asked whether this consulting work would be allowed under the Code.

Loaned executives are neither public officials nor state employees; and are, therefore, not legally bound by the Code. Nonetheless, both the Governor and the executives have agreed that these individuals should abide by all Code provisions. Under the Code’s post-state employment rules, such consulting work is limited during the first year after state service. Specifically, in order to prevent improper use of influence, the former employee may not receive more than his rate of compensation at the time of separation from state service plus necessary expenses.

In the case of a loaned executive, however, the individual’s compensation was not established by the State. Nonetheless, safeguards need to be in place to insure the integrity of the Program and prevent misuse of contacts and influence for financial gain. Therefore, the request for consulting services should be made by someone who held a position which was not subordinate to the former loaned executive. Furthermore, the fee should be fiscally reasonable and must not exceed the value of the executive’s services previously donated by the law firm.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-25  Application Of Outside Employment Restrictions To Special Deputy Sheriffs

The Commission was asked how the Code of Ethics would apply to the acceptance of certain types of outside employment by special deputy sheriffs.

In essence, the outside employment can be divided into two categories: work which involves the use of a badge for private gain (e.g., bounty hunter as private investigator); and work which does not include use of a badge (e.g., bartender) or involves use of a badge for the benefit of the public (e.g., DEP officer).

Work in the first category is prohibited, because of the clear opportunity to misuse one’s public authority for private gain. Work in the second category is not similarly barred, due to the lack of opportunity for abuse of official authority.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-26 Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-86e To Connecticut Institute For The Blind

This Opinion applied the independent contractor restrictions, set forth in §1-86e of the Code of Ethics, to the Connecticut Institute for the Blind. The general application of this section, and certain related provisions, was delineated previously in seven Commission opinions (see, A.O. Nos. 97-22 and 99-13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-27  Reporting Of Expenditures For Unutilized Lobbying Advertising Campaigns

A client lobbyist asked whether the cost of an ad campaign regarding pending legislation, which was developed but never utilized, must be reported. The answer is yes. Such expenditures are "in furtherance of lobbying" and must be disclosed pursuant to §1-96 of the Lobbyist Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-28  Acceptance of Free Or Reduced-Cost Meals By Division Of Special Revenue Employees From Regulated Entities

Under the Gift law, Division of Special Revenue employees, on duty at the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, may not accept free or reduced cost meals from the Casinos.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-29  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To The Employment Of The CoChair Of The Judiciary Committee By The Connecticut Bar Association

The Senate CoChair of the Judiciary Committee may accept employment with the Connecticut Bar Association (CBA) provided: he recuses himself from all legislative matters affecting the financial interests of the CBA; and all issues identified as CBA priorities and lobbied by its registrants.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-30  Application Of The Codes’ Reporting Requirements To Public Officials’ Participation In Panel Discussions At An Event Sponsored By A Lobbyist

The Codes provide that no disclosure to the Commission is required when a public official is the "principal speaker" at an event held in Connecticut and receives only admission and food and drink. The Commission does not have the authority to extend the exemption to public official/panelists appearing at an educational forum hosted by a lobbyist. If the exemption is to be extended to apply to multiple panel members, it must be by legislative action; not by a ruling of the Commission.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-31  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(c) To Employment Offered By A Trade Association

Pursuant to §1-84b(c) of the Code, no individual in a position, designated by the Commission, at certain state regulatory agencies may accept employment with "…any business subject to regulation by his agency" within one year after leaving the agency.

The Commission was asked whether this provision would apply to the acceptance of employment with a trade association made up of the businesses regulated by a §1-84b(c) agency.

The Trade Association acts as the principal lobbyist at the state level for its member/businesses, and represents members at certain state regulatory proceedings. The Association’s funding is derived from its members’ dues.

Under these circumstances, the Association is nothing more or less than a collection of the member/businesses in the field regulated by the §1-84b(c) agency. Furthermore, the funding for the Association, and consequently the funding for the position, emanates directly from the member/businesses.

Therefore, consistent with the underlying purpose of the statutory provision, a trade association composed of businesses regulated by a §1-84b(c) agency may not employ a designated official of that agency until the one year mandated "cooling off" period has elapsed.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 99-32  Proper Calculation Of Registration Fee Payments When A Business Organization Replaces One Of Its Lobbyists

A lobbyist asked whether his firm had to pay additional registration fees if it replaced one staff lobbyist with another.

The answer is yes. Under the applicable statutes and regulations, the registration, and related fee, are personal to the individual and are not transferable.

 


 

-1998-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-1 Application Of Office of State Ethics Advisory Opinion 97-9 To A CHRO Hearing Officer/Attorney Who Limits His Practice Re: Discrimination Matters To Appearances In Court

In Advisory Opinion 97-9, the Office of State Ethics ruled that Commission On Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) hearing officers could not practice law before the CHRO.

A hearing officer may, however, represent plaintiffs in court regarding employment discrimination cases, when his only contact with the CHRO is the mandatory filing of claims, which filings serve as the necessary prerequisite to transferring his clients’ cases to the superior court.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-2  University Of Connecticut Health Center Faculty Member Receiving Research Funding From A Business With Which He Is Associated

A private biotechnology company would like to enter into a contract with the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) to fund research. There will be options for licensing opportunities for inventions emanating from the research. The holding company of this biotechnology company is a business with which the chair of the research center is associated. Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(i), a contract between the state and a business with which a state employee is associated must be awarded through an open and public process. Because any benefits derived by the biotechnology company will create a resultant benefit to the holding company, for purposes of § 1-84(i), it will also be deemed a business with which the state employee is associated. Therefore, there must be an open and public process before a research contract is awarded. Furthermore, in order to avoid any potential violation of § 1-84(c) which prohibits use of one’s position for personal financial gain or the financial gain of a business with which you are associated, neither the state employee nor any subordinate should be involved in any part of the evaluation and selection process.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-3  Advertisement Of Transcripts By Court Reporters And Monitors Constitutes Use Of Office Under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(c)

The Commission has previously held that the preparation of transcripts was part of a court reporter’s/monitor’s state job, not private employment. Therefore, it would be an improper use of office for these individuals to market transcripts for sale through an internet service.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-4  Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To The Use Of A State Computer In Furtherance Of One’s Outside Employment

It would be a use of office, in violation of the Code, for a State Senator to use his legislative laptop computer incident to his outside employment. The fact that the outside employment is with a public institution (a school) does not alter this conclusion.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-5  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To Benefits Provided To An Employee/Spouse Of A Public Official By A Lobbyist/Employer

The Commission was asked whether The Codes’ gift restrictions would apply to the following hypothetical: the spouse of a public official is a member of a law firm. The firm represents a client (e.g., a bank) regarding various commercial matters. The bank is also a registered lobbyist. As part of its ordinary and customary business practice, the bank occasionally hosts members of the firm who work on its behalf (e.g., business lunch, golf outing at which business is discussed).

This ordinary and customary entertainment, provided by the client/lobbyist, and in return for which the law firm employee provides full consideration by virtue of his or her work, is not subject to the gift restrictions or reporting requirements of The Codes.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-6  Interpretation Of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-97(d)

The lobbyist notification requirement established, effective January 1, 1998, by § 1-97(d) pertains only to benefits which must be itemized under § 1-96 of The Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-7  Reportability Of Benefits Provided To A Public Official By A Lobbyist/Employer

Pursuant to statute, there are sixteen categories of benefits which are exempt from the definition of "Gift." See, § 1-79(e) and § 1-91(g) of The Codes. These Gift ban exemptions are not, however, exemptions to the related, but distinct, reporting requirements set forth in § 1-96. Rather, § 1-96 enumerates which gift exemptions will also be exempt from The Lobbyist Code’s itemization requirements.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-8  Application Of The Code’s Gift Restrictions To A Nonlobbyist Member Of A Business Organization Engaged in Lobbying

The Commission was asked how the Ethics Codes’ gift provisions apply to a nonlobbyist member of a business organization (e.g., law firm) engaged in lobbying.

Pursuant to a 1997 amendment to the Codes: for purposes of the gift limits, any expenditure made by a lobbyist member of a business organization is also attributed to the organization; and any expenditure made by the organization is also attributed to all its lobbyist members. Therefore, a nonlobbyist member of a law firm falls outside the parameters of these restrictions. As a consequence, the individual could personally make expenditures for the benefit of a public official without regard to the Codes’ stringent lobbyist gift limits. If, however, the individual was reimbursed by the business organization, all of these reimbursed expenditures would be attributed to the organization’s lobbyist members.

Therefore, if the nonlobbyist attorney routinely makes such reimbursed expenditures, to avoid violation of the gift laws it will be necessary to segregate the firm’s lobbying work into a separate and distinct government relations unit. (In fact, this is already the preferred practice for law firms engaged in lobbying, since it protects a firm’s attorney-client records from the Commission’s lobbyist random audit authority.)

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-9  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To Gifts Provided By The University Of Connecticut To Public Officials From Another State Entity

On occasion, the University of Connecticut (UCONN) will invite members and staff of the General Assembly to attend one of its athletic or cultural events, as well as a related reception. The purpose of the invitation is to have an opportunity to educate the attendees regarding UCONN’s needs, and to showcase the diversity of University programs and activities. The Commission was asked whether the acceptance of such benefits was permissible under The Code Of Ethics.

Under the Code, the receipt of such benefits is strictly limited, if the donor: 1. is a lobbyist; or 2. is doing business with, seeking business from, or regulated by the beneficiary’s agency. UCONN does not fall into either category, and is therefore a "non-restricted" donor.

Regardless of this conclusion, the Commission has previously ruled that it was an improper use of office to receive excessive benefits, even from a non-restricted donor, if the benefits were bestowed solely by virtue of the beneficiary’s state position. Under these circumstances, the Commission ruled that the Codes’ lobbyist gift limits would be the benchmark for determining what was excessive.

Effective January 1, 1998, however, the Codes’ lobbyist gift and food and drink limits (previously $50 in gifts and $150 in food and drink per beneficiary per year) have been substantially reduced (to gifts under $10 and $50 in food and drink per recipient per year). Consequently, the Commission now holds that it will not necessarily be an improper use of office to receive benefits, from a non-restricted donor, which exceed the lobbyist gift limits, even if the benefits are received solely by virtue of one’s office. For example, in the situation under review, the legislators and staff are, unquestionably, receiving benefits by virtue of state position. Nonetheless, given that the event is an officially sanctioned University function, held in furtherance of a state purpose, the benefits will not be prohibited by the Code.

While the foregoing analysis addresses the question of benefits provided to a public official for a public purpose, it does not extend to benefits provided to the family or guest of the official; a practice in which UCONN has also engaged. Until this year, immediate family of a public official would have been allowed to accept these benefits, e.g., a ticket to a sports event, even if furnished by a lobbyist. Given the current, essentially absolute, ban on gifts from regulated donors, however, the Commission believes the financial thresholds established by the gift law are no longer an appropriate standard for limiting benefits provided, by virtue of one’s position, from non-restricted donors.

Alternatively, the Commission now adopts the de minimus financial benefits standard set forth in the regulations implementing the Code’s conflict of interest provisions. Specifically, under this standard, benefits with a cumulative value of less than $100 per person per year provided to a public official or immediate family member, by virtue of the official’s position, by a non-regulated donor will be permitted.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-10  Application Of Gift Law To Senior Public Official Attending Charity Tennis Tournament In Official Capacity

One of the exceptions to the Ethics Codes’ gift ban, enacted in 1997, is: "admission to a charitable or civic event, including food and beverage provided at such event, but excluding lodging or travel expenses, at which a public official or state employee participates in his official capacity, provided such admission is provided by the sponsoring entity."

The Commission was asked how this exception would apply to one’s participation, in his or her official capacity, in a charity tennis tournament with an admission price of $1,000 per person. This price included: the charitable donation, court fees, food and beverage served at the event, and $250 worth of "souvenir" items (e.g., umbrella, tennis balls, shirt, etc.)

Clearly, the exemption in question would permit receipt of the admission/court fee and the food and drink provided at the event. However, the $250 in gifts do not fall within the terms of the exemption; and, in keeping with the legislative purpose of the gift ban, should not be accepted. If, however, a particular item comes within another gift exception (e.g., a plaque or ceremonial award costing less than $100), it may be accepted by the official.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-11  University Of Connecticut Basketball Coach’s Outside Contract With Company Licensed To Use Husky Logo

UCONN Coach Jim Calhoun may enter into a contract with Husky Chips and Salsa (HCS) to sell the Coach’s basketball instructional video. In general, state employees may not use their state titles or a state logo in private marketing ventures. Here, however, HCS is permitted to use the Husky name and logo by virtue of a preexisting licensing agreement with UCONN.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-12 Application Of Code Of Ethics To Workers’ Compensation Commissioners, Including Per Diem Commissioners

The Chairman of the Workers Compensation Commission (WCC) has statutory authority to appoint Per Diem Commissioners, who have all the powers and duties of full-time Compensation Commissioners. Given the manner of their appointment, these Per Diem Commissioners do not fall within the Ethics Code’s definition of "Public official." However, since they sign personal service agreements they will be considered independent contractors subject to § 1-86e of the Code. Pursuant to that provision, one may not use authority provided under a state contract for personal financial benefit or for the benefit of one’s employee.

Applying this prohibition to the question presented, while an attorney is serving as Per Diem Commissioner, neither he nor his firm may practice before the WCC. (Th

e Commission notes that this application of the Code to attorneys serving in a quasi-judicial capacity parallels the Superior Court Rules for attorney/magistrates and their firms.)

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-13  Application Of The Code To Payments For Spouses Of UCONN Personnel To Participate In University Functions

In general, it is an impermissible use of office to accept significant benefits for one’s spouse which are provided solely by virtue of one’s public position. The Commission rules, however, that this prohibition is not absolute; and hereby grants an exception allowing UCONN to pay for spousal participation in statutorily mandated fundraising events.

The Commission emphasizes that this exception is strictly limited, and does not permit payment for spousal participation in events based solely on academic custom. Under that circumstance, the traditions of the University must continue to yield to the requirements of the Ethics Code. Additionally, to prevent possible abuse of the exception, any decision to allow payment for spousal participation in UCONN fundraising must be made by one’s superior, subject to final review by the University President.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-14  Interpretation Of Various Provisions Of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(n), Concerning Political Contributions To The State Treasurer

Subsection 1-84(n) of the Ethics Code prohibits the State Treasurer from awarding business to an "investment services" firm, if the firm, or designated members of the firm, made a contribution, or solicited contributions, incident to a nomination or election to the Office of the Treasurer.

This Opinion sets forth the Commission’s interpretation of the basic elements of this subsection including: the definitions of designated positions (e.g., "owner" or individual with "managerial or discretionary responsibilities"); and what firms and categories of work are subject to the prohibition.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-15  Application Of Outside Employment Rules To Chair Of State Library Board

The Chairman of the State Library Board was retained by an insurance agency as a consultant to help the agency develop a business plan to sell disability insurance to individual members of the Connecticut Library Association. Specifically, the Chairman, who is not licensed to sell insurance, indicated that he was hired as a "facilitator" to help the agency sell insurance to library employees, because he is familiar to them by virtue of his Library Board position.

Such an arrangement is, clearly, a misuse of office in violation of the Ethics Code. This Ruling does not, however, preclude the Chairman from assisting the insurance agency with other sales ventures unrelated to his official authority, including the marketing of insurance to individuals connected with libraries outside of Connecticut.

The Chairman of the State Library Board was retained by an insurance agency as a consultant to help the agency develop a business plan to sell disability insurance to individual members of the Connecticut Library Association. Specifically, the Chairman, who is not licensed to sell insurance, indicated that he was hired as a "facilitator" to help the agency sell insurance to library employees, because he is familiar to them by virtue of his Library Board position.

Such an arrangement is, clearly, a misuse of office in violation of the Ethics Code. This Ruling does not, however, preclude the Chairman from assisting the insurance agency with other sales ventures unrelated to his official authority, including the marketing of insurance to individuals connected with libraries outside of Connecticut.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-16  Application Of The Code’s Gift Exceptions To Expenditures Made On Behalf Of A Lobbyist

The Lobbyist Code’s $50 per beneficiary per year limit on food and drink is violated if a client lobbyist seeks to exceed the threshold by directing or requiring its employees (whether in-house lobbyists or non-lobbyists) to absorb the cost of the overage.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-17  Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Gift Exceptions And Reporting Requirements To A Reception Held To Honor The Connecticut Members Of The Olympic Women’s Hockey Team

A reception hosted by a registered lobbyist (SNET) to honor the Connecticut members of the USA Women’s Olympic Hockey Team was not a lobbying event. Rather, it qualifies as a "civic event" as that term is defined in the Code. Therefore, SNET need not report the attendance of public officials, invited in their official capacity, since the per person cost was below the $30 itemization threshold for such functions. Additionally, commemorative items distributed at the event are exempt from the Code’s gift limits and reporting requirements as promotional items available to the general public.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-18  Reporting By Communicator And Client Lobbyists Of Contributions To Parties Attended By Public Officials And Their Staff

Under the reporting requirements of the Lobbyist Code, if a group of lobbyists host an event (e.g., a holiday party), the total cost of which is over ten dollars per person, each lobbyist must itemize the expenditure, regardless of the fact that any one lobbyist’s contribution may be less than ten dollars per beneficiary.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-19  Application Of The Conn. Gen. Stat.§ 1-97(d) Notification Requirement To Events Hosted By A Group Of Lobbyists

When a group of lobbyists pays for an event, the cost of which is over ten dollars per person, each lobbyist/donor must itemize the expenditure. Therefore, each of the lobbyists must also provide the notification to beneficiaries mandated by Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-97(d). In order to avoid duplicative paperwork, however, the Commission rules that the contributing lobbyists may fulfill the notification requirement with one joint notice, as long as that notice contains all the information required by law.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-20  Application Of Code Of Ethics To Public Official Who Accepts Fee/Honorarium For Transfer To Expense Fund

Under the Code Of Ethics For Public Officials, no public official or state employee can accept a fee or honorarium for a speech given in their official capacity. A public official cannot circumvent this prohibition by donating the fee to his state agency, if the money is then used to reimburse the official for expenses (meals, flowers, etc.) he would ordinarily be required to pay for personally.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-21  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84b(b) To Former Department Of Information Technology Employees

The Department of Informatio.n Technology (DOIT) has rehired former employees under a statutory provision which allows such individuals to work up to 120 days per year without affecting their retirement benefits. DOIT now wishes, however, to continue to utilize certain of these retirees who have exhausted their 120 day allotments. Specifically, DOIT has asked whether these employees may now go to work for vendors on the State’s approved list and then be selected for various state information technology projects, provided they make no more than they earned when in state service.

When a former employee returns under the 120 day option, he or she becomes a durational state employee subject to the Code. Therefore, for purposes of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84b(b), a new one year ban on compensated appearances before the employee’s former agency is triggered by each period of such reemployment.

In recognition of the former agency’s need to retain such individuals (e.g., to complete critical projects) the Commission has established an exception to § 1-84b(b) allowing former employees to enter into contracts with their former agency within the one year period, provided the rate of compensation is no higher than the individual was earning when he or she left state service. In essence, such a limitation prevents the former employee from utilizing contacts at the former agency for improper financial gain.

This reemployment policy clearly contemplated a direct consultant relationship between the State and the former employee. The exception did not contemplate and does not extend to a situation where the former employee will be representing a private vendor before the former agency. Even if the former employee receives no more than his or her prior state compensation, the arrangement is fraught with conflicts of interest (e.g., the individual’s affiliation with the vendor could well lead to additional state contracts being awarded to that vendor) and is not permitted under the Code.

Finally, the Commission reaffirms its formula for compensating former state employees seeking to enter into consulting agreements with their former agency: salary grade at the time of separation from state service plus fringe benefits plus necessary expenses. The Commission rejects the contention put forth by certain retirees that this calculation should be increased to include such items as longevity, holidays and paid vacation.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-22  Application Of The Gift Ban To Staff Of Candidates For Public Office

The Ethics Codes’ Lobbyist Gift Ban applies not only to the staff of public officials but also to the staff of candidates for public office.

After consultation with the Legislative Leadership, the Commission concurs with the Leaders’ view that for purposes of the Gift Ban a candidate’s staff should be limited to include only those paid staff who are under the authority of and report to the candidate. Under this Ruling, staff does not include unpaid volunteers (e.g., campaign treasurers), paid hourly workers (e.g., phone solicitors) or independent contractors (e.g., pollsters).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-23  Acceptance Of Compensation By Staff And Board Members Of State Agency For Services Solicited By Agency Executive Director

The Executive Director of the Commission on Children (COC) may hire COC staff to teach Parent Leadership Training courses which are administered by the Agency, as long as the open and public contracting requirements of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(i) are followed. The Director may not, however, hire Commission members to teach these courses. Given the fact that the Commission members are the Director’s superiors, it would constitute an impairment of independence of judgment and be an inappropriate use of office, however inadvertent, for these Commissioners to accept the compensated work.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-24 Classification Of Lobbyist Expenditures For Entertainment Of Public Officials As Expenditures In Furtherance Of Lobbying

When a client lobbyist corporation makes an expenditure for the benefit of a pubic official (e.g. drinks and dinner for a legislator) the expenditure fosters good will and is, therefore, deemed to be in furtherance of lobbying. In essence, while an individual can made purely personal expenditures, a corporation cannot. Consequently, absent a clear non-lobbying business purpose for the expenditure, it must be classified and reported as related to lobbying.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-25  Applicability Of Requirement To Disclose Terms Of Compensation On Registration Form Prior To the Commencement Of Lobbying

Pursuant to the requirements of The Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists and the Commission’s Regulations, a lobbyist must disclose the fundamentals terms of his or her lobbying contract before commencement of lobbying. To allow the negotiation of a fee after commencement of lobbying would lead to illegal contingency fee agreements.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-26  Application Of The Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-83 Financial Disclosure Requirements To The Designee Of A Public Official

If a public official serving as a director of a quasi-public agency is required to file an annual Statement Of Financial Interests with the Office of State Ethics, then his designee to that board should also file.

This inclusion is not altered if the designee is a loaned executive. To the contrary, pursuant to Advisory Opinion No. 91-1, the Commission and the Office of the Governor have agreed that such loaned executives exercising state authority will abide by all provisions of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials.

If a public official serving as a director of a quasi-public agency is required to file an annual Statement Of Financial Interests with the Office of State Ethics, then his designee to that board should also file.

This inclusion is not altered if the designee is a loaned executive. To the contrary, pursuant to Advisory Opinion No. 91-1, the Commission and the Office of the Governor have agreed that such loaned executives exercising state authority will abide by all provisions of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-30  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(c) To State Employee Names As Beneficiary Or Executrix/or Under Client’s Will

The Code’s prohibition against use of office for personal financial gain §1-84(c)) would prohibit a DMR employee from receiving a bequest from his or her DMR client’s will. Additionally, given the opportunity for financial gain, the DMR employee should not accept a fee (other than reimbursement of expenses) for serving as Executrix/or of a DMR client’s estate.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-31  Department Of Correction Employee May Not Accept Outside Employment With Bail Bondsman

A Department of Correction (DOC) employee may not accept outside employment with a Bail Bondsman. As the Commission has previously ruled, under analogous circumstances, such employment would impair independence of judgment and potentially induce disclosure of confidential information in violation of §1-84(b) of the Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-32  Application Of Code Of Ethics To Lobbyist’s Participation In Certain Proceedings At The Department Of Public Utility Control

The Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) has established formal dockets, which are not contested cases, and has also established "working groups" of interested parties to study issues and collect information regarding the recently enacted electric restructuring legislation. The purpose of these efforts is to report findings and legislative recommendations to the General Assembly, as necessary.

Neither of these activities falls within an exception to the definition of "Lobbying." Therefore, a utility company participating in either the dockets or the working groups would be engaged in reportable legislative lobbying (since the goal of the activity is to affect legislative action). Finally, under well established Commission precedent, the fact that the DPUC has requested the Company’s participation does not alter the conclusion that the Company’s response constitutes lobbying.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-33  Definition Of A Legislative Reception For Purposes Of The Gift Rule Exception

Under the Codes of Ethics, one of the exceptions to the Gift Ban is "food or beverage or both costing less than fifty dollars per person and consumed at a publicly noticed legislative reception to which all members of the General Assembly are invited and which is hosted not more than once in any calendar year by a lobbyist or business organization."

A business organization will be holding its annual holiday party and plans to invite clients, employees, and business associates, as well as all members of the General Assembly. The Commission was asked whether this event qualifies as a legislative reception under the Codes’ gift provisions.

The answer is no. The threshold requirement for utilizing the exception is that the event be conducted primarily to allow an organization and its members to educate and interact with the members of the Legislature regarding legislative issues. A group may not use the exception to host a holiday party, since such an event is not primarily held for a legislative purpose. Therefore, the business organization must use an alternative exception (allowing another fifty dollars in food and drink per recipient per year without regard to the purpose of the event) for its holiday party.

 


 

-1997-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-1  University Professor May Not Accept Outside Employment With Private Provider Originally Established With His Official Participation As A University Affiliated Program

A UCONN professor may not accept outside employment with a corporation which, in his capacity as a University official, he was substantially responsible for creating, privatizing and funding.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-2  Application Of Code Of Ethics To Court Reporters Charging Public For Computer Disks

A court reporter wishing to charge an attorney for a computer disk of a transcript must comply with any applicable judicial statutes or regulations. If there are no applicable rules, the reporter may not unilaterally set a price on the sale of the disk other than the disk’s actual cost, without violating the Code’s use of office prohibition.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-3  Application of Conn. Stat. § 1-84b(b) To Appearances Before Special Education Due Process Hearing Officers

For purposes of the post-statement employment provision prohibiting, for one year, representation before one’s former agency, a special education due process hearing officer is not considered a part of the Department of Education.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-4  Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists’ Registration Requirements

The Lobbyist Code’s registration requirement is triggered by the act of lobbying, not by the date of receipt of payment for lobbying.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-5  Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Registration Requirements To Actions Taken Outside Of An Agency’s Rules and Procedures
Activity otherwise exempt from the definition of administrative lobbying loses this exemption, if a paid representative acts outside of the established rules and procedures of the administrative agency (e.g. by seeking the intervention of the agency head).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-6  Men’s Basketball Program Utilizing Business With Which University Basketball Coach is Associated

The UCONN Men’s Basketball coach may not utilized a restaurant he owns for team meals, because the attendant publicity will result in an unavoidable, although not precisely quantifiable, benefit to the restaurant.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-7  Itemization Of An Expenditure For The Benefit Of A Public Official When The Cost Of The Event Is Partially Paid For By The Public Official Recipient

If a public official partially pays for the cost of a meal hosted by a lobbyist, this payment should be treated like any other reimbursement. The lobbyist should take the total cost of the meal and calculate the per person cost. The official’s contribution should also be divided by the number of individuals in attendance. This amount, subtracted from the total per person cost, will be the value received by the public official. If this amount is ten dollars or more, itemization is required.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-8  Application Of The Ban On Contingent Fee Lobbying To Efforts To Validate A Lottery Award

The Lobbyist Code’s contingent fee ban clearly prohibits a lobbyist from representing a lottery claimant, when the lobbyist’s fee would only be paid if the claimant was successful.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-9  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To CHRO Hearing Officers Practicing Law Before The CHRO

The Ethics Code’s conflict of interest provisions unquestionably prohibit a Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) hearing officer from engaging in the practice of law before the CHRO.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-10  Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To A Lawyer/Legislator Whose Firm Engages In Lobbying

The Ethics Code prohibits a legislator from also being a lobbyist. This provision does not, however, bar a legislator/lawyer from being a member of a law firm which engages in lobbying, provided the legislator/lawyer is completely barred from profiting from the firm’s lobbying work.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-11  Restrictions On Outside Work For Tax Return Preparation Businesses By Department Of Revenue Services Employees

A Department of Revenue Services employee may not accept simultaneous employment in any capacity with a tax preparation service doing business in Connecticut.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-12  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(m)(3) To The Giving Of Gifts By State Employees To Their Superiors

The holding of this Opinion was superseded by a subsequent amendment to the; Ethics Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-13  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84b(d) To The Former Commissioner Of The Department Of Transportation

Under § 1-84b(d) of the Code’s post-state employment provisions, an official who participates substantially in the negotiation or award of a contract obliging the state to pay $50,000 or more, may not accept employment with a party to the contract for one year after leaving the state service, if this separation occurs less than one year after the contract was signed. (Note, a subsequent statutory amendment relettered the subsection as 1-84b(f) and changed "obliging the state" to "valued at")

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-14  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To Employees Of The University of Connecticut

This opinion discusses various applications of the Ethics Code’s gift and employment rules to employees of The University of Connecticut.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-15  Effect Of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 On The Practice Of Lobbyists Sharing The Cost Of Items Worth Less Than Ten Dollars

Under the new gift law, effective January 1, 1998, public officials and state employees may accept from one source "anything of value of not more than ten dollars, provided the aggregate value of all things provided by a donor to a recipient under this subdivision in any calendar year shall not exceed fifty dollars." Based on this language and on the legislative history, this opinion finds that the legislature did not intend to allow lobbyists to join together to give a gift worth more than $10.00. Therefore, under the new law, lobbyists may split the cost of an item below $10.00 in value but may not split the cost of an item above that limit.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-16 Effect Of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 On The Practice Of Lobbyists Providing Meals To Public Official By Splitting The Cost

Under the new gift law, effective January 1, 1998, the annual limit on food and drink which a public official may accept from one source is reduced from $150 to $50. This opinion reviews the legislative history and concludes that since the legislature intended to reduce the size of meals received to "no more than one fifty dollar meal…," lobbyists may not join together to provide a public official with a meal over $50.00. Thus, if a public official accepts a $100 meal from two lobbyists, the lobbyists may split the cost of the meal up to $50.00, but the public official must reimburse the lobbyists $50.00.

Of course, the law still allows a lobbyist to give up to $50.00 in food and drink in the aggregate to any one public official in a year. Therefore, in the above example, if the lobbyists each paid $25.00 towards the meal, and hadn’t bought any other meals for this public official in the year, they could still provide up to $25.00 in meals to the public official in question.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-17  Effect Of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 On Regional Receptions Hosted By A Statewide Organization

Public Act No. 97-6 establishes an additional gift exception for regional receptions. The Commission ruled that, consistent with legislative history, a statewide organization may not use this new exception to host multiple receptions in different regions of the State.

However, this does not preclude a regional group from hosting its own regional event separate from its state-wide sister organization. Therefore, for example, the Connecticut Association of Realtors may hold one legislative reception and the Hartford County Association of Realtors may host a separate reception for Hartford area public officials.

Public Act No. 97-6 establishes an additional gift exception for regional receptions. The Commission ruled that, consistent with legislative history, a statewide organization may not use this new exception to host multiple receptions in different regions of the State.

However, this does not preclude a regional group from hosting its own regional event separate from its state-wide sister organization. Therefore, for example, the Connecticut Association of Realtors may hold one legislative reception and the Hartford County Association of Realtors may host a separate reception for Hartford area public officials.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-18  Effect Of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 On Gifts To The State Of Consulting Services

Effective January 1, 1998, in order to qualify as a gift to the state, for purposes of the exemption of the gift definition, not only must the gift facilitate state action or function but it must also be for (1) use on state property or (2) to support an event or participation by a public official or state employee at an event. State property is defined to mean property owned by the state or leased to an agency in the executive or judicial department of the state. The Commission ruled that gifts of computer time or space, or other consulting services, will qualify as a gift to the state, as long as the product is implemented and used by a state servant in his or her state office or ultimately used by a public official for legitimate state action or function while on state property. For example, a legislator may check his or her state web page from his or her home computer because such information will be used by the public official for legislative purposes performed at the State Capitol, or a consultant may develop and donate a software product which will be used on a state-owned computer system.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-19  Application Of The Code To The Private Practice Of Law By The Speaker Of The House

The Speaker of the House is an attorney and asked a series of questions regarding his private practice. A public official is prohibited from representing a client for compensation before 13 specific state agencies listed in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(d). This blanket prohibition does not extend to representation before a quasi-public agency. Therefore, absent any other conflict of interests, the Speaker may represent a client before the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA), a quasi-public agency, and he may work for a client who, in turn, does work with CRRA.

In past Office of State Ethics Opinions, the Commission ruled that it would be a use of one’s office, in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(c), for the Chairperson of a legislative committee to represent clients before the state agencies over which it has jurisdiction even if it is not a agency listed in subsection 1-84(d). The Commission reasoned that the legislator wields such broad powers over those agencies that an inadvertent use of office could not be avoided. However, considering the part-time status of the legislature, the Commission determined that it would be too far-reaching a restriction to absolutely prohibit the Speaker from appearing before all state agencies in all cases.

Finally, the Commission ruled that the Speaker’s Chief of Staff may be appointed to the Board of CRRA and discuss issues of concern to CRRA with the Chairperson of the legislative committee on Environmental Protection.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-20  Effect Of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 On Reporting Requirements For Expenditures Made On Behalf Of Public Officials Or State Employees

Section 5 of Public Act No. 97-6, June 18 Special Session, establishes a notice requirement for certain donors who give benefits subject to the reporting requirements of subsection (e) of §1-96. As drafted, this new notice requirement applies only to registered client lobbyists required to report pursuant to §1-96(e). The purpose of the legislation is to assure that gift recipients receive a written report detailing, among other things, the value of specific benefits given and the cumulative value of all such benefits given to the recipient during that calendar year so that a donee knows when he has received reportable items. A parallel provision is contained in §8 of the Act. Again, pursuant to §1-96(e), this provision applies to registered client lobbyists only.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-21  Effect Of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 On The Acceptance Of Employment With Indian Tribe Businesses By Designated Individuals

Public Act No. 97-6, June 18 Special Session, prohibits certain government regulators from accepting employment with Indian Tribe businesses prior to an appropriate waiting period (two years), in order to preserve and enhance public confidence in the state regulatory process. A review of the legislative history clarifies that in order to uphold the spirit and intent of the statute, this restriction must be construed to include employment with any of the Tribe’s gaming operations as well as with any business in which the Tribe has a controlling interest.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-22  Application Of The Independent Contractor Section Of The Code Of Ethics, Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-86e, To A Private Provider Contracting With The Department Of Mental Retardation

Under the Code of Ethics for Public Officials’ conflict of interest provisions for independent contractors, a private provider which has a contract with a state agency to perform certain services in connection with state clients must receive prior written approval from the state agency before presenting a client with choices which may affect the financial interests of the private provider’s owners or immediate family members.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-23  Effect Of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 On The Giving And Reporting Of Tickets To Charity Events By Registered Lobbyists

Under amendments to the gift law which go into effect January 1, 1998, a registered lobbyist which is also the primary sponsor of a charity golf tournament may allow a public official to participate without triggering the gift limits of the Codes of Ethics. However, if the benefits personally and directly received by the public official exceed $30 (if, for example, the golf costs $50 and the meal $25), this lobbyist must itemize the name of, and the benefits received by, the public official on its next financial report.

Under this example, since the value of the golf exceeds $10 (the gift limit under the new law), a registered lobbyist which is not the primary sponsor of the tournament may not give a ticket to the event to a public official.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-24  Promotion Of Soccer Camp Owned By The University Of Connecticut’s Soccer Coach

The Athletic Department at UCONN, in an effort to increase attendance during the women’s soccer season, would like to offer a the chance for attendees to win a free scholarship at a summer soccer camp. The Coach of the team, a state employee, has offered to use a camp he owns for this promotion.

The Code prohibits the Coach from using his state position to obtain financial gain for himself or a business with which he is associated. The proposed use of his summer camp is derived solely because of his state position, since UCONN has not sought the availability of other similar camps. Although the promotion is designed to benefit UCONN’s soccer program, the advertisements and game announcements will have the residual effect of generally promoting the camp. Therefore, such an exclusive arrangement would be an impermissible use of the Coach’s office in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(c). The Code, however, will allow the contemplated financial arrangement, if the University and the state employee comply with the requirements of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(i) which requires that such contracts with a state employee be approved only if awarded through an open and public process.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-25  Application Of Public Act No. 97-6, June 18 Special Session, To Benefits Provided By An Employer Of A Public Official Or State Employee

Section 1 of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 created a new exception to the definition of a gift which excludes "anything of value provided by an employer of (a) a public official, (b) a state employee, or (c) a spouse of a public official or state employee, to such official, employee or spouse, provided such benefits are customarily and ordinarily provided to others in similar circumstances". The Office of State Ethics was asked whether the State of Connecticut is an employer for purposes of this definition.

The purpose of the gift definition, in the Code, is to prohibit Gifts from certain restricted donors, (e.g. registered lobbyists, entities regulated by or seeking to do business with one’s agency) in order to reduce both actual and apparent outside influences on state servants. Therefore, the additional gift exception provided for in the Public Act for gifts from an employer applies only to those restricted donors defined in the Code, i.e. not the State, which employ the public official, state employee or spouse of such public official or state employee. The improper acceptance of gifts or other benefits received from the State, however, would be governed by § 1-84(c), as a possible use of office for financial gain.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-26  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To The Practice Of Law Before State Agencies By The House Minority Leader

The House Minority Leader may, consistent with the requirements of The Code Of Ethics, represent a municipality before the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration and before the State Board of Labor Relations.

Neither Board is included in the Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(d) list of agencies before which no public official or state employee, including a legislator, may represent another for compensation. If additional limitations were to be placed on the outside employment of the Legislative Leadership, such restrictions should be established by explicit legislative action, rather than through case by case rulings of the Ethics Commission.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-27  Effect Of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 Concerning Limitations On Food And Drink To Public Officials

Public Act No. 97-6 establishes an exemption under the gift law for the acceptance of "food or beverage or both costing less than fifty dollars in the aggregate per recipient in a calendar year, and consumed on an occasion or occasions at which the person paying, directly or indirectly, for the food or beverage, or his representative, is in attendance." The Act also permits acceptance of "anything having a value of not more than ten dollars, provided the aggregate value of all things provided by a donor to a recipient … in any calendar year shall not exceed fifty dollars. These exemptions are separate and distinct; food and drink valued at under $10 may be attributable to either the fifty dollar food and drink limitation category or to the category of "anything having a value of not more than $10…".

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 97-28  Effect Of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 On Attendance At Charitable And Civic Events

Effective January 1, 1998, the definition of a gift excludes admission to a charitable or civic event. For purposes of this new exemption, the Commission ruled that a charitable event is an event which benefits an entity which is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a charity to which contributions would be tax deductible. A civic event was defined as an event which is held by a community group established to promote municipal activities or common goals of citizens within the community, e.g., a rotary club meeting.

 


 

-1996-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-1 Restrictions On Outside Legal Work Performed By An Associate Dean Of A Connecticut University For University Students

An Attorney who is also a University Dean should not undertake to represent students in cases emanating from on-campus incidents.   Additionally, in order to avoid any conflict of interest, the Dean should not accept, for profit, cases involving students enrolled in the school of the Dean or in courses which he teaches.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-2 Bridgeport Harbor Master’s Proposed Agreement With Bridgeport Port Authority

It is an impermissible use of the Harbor Master’s public office, however inadvertent, and an acceptance of employment which impairs independence of judgment for him to enter into a contract to provide security services for the Bridgeport Port Authority. As the Commission has previously held "…there are inherent conflicts of interest when an employee is also the employer, or a full member of the body which is the employer."

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-3 Attorneys’ Communications Regarding Policies Or Directed To Persons Outside Agency With Official Jurisdiction Not Exempt From Definition Of Lobbying As The “Practice Of Law”

Exempt from the definition of "administrative lobbying" are "communications by an attorney made while engaging in the practice of law…."  This exemption was not, however, intended to apply when a lawyer goes outside of the agency with official jurisdiction in a matter in an attempt to influence the agency’s decision (e.g., contacting the Governor’s office to request intervention in the matter).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-4 Application Of The Code’s Post-State Employment Provisions To An Individual Who Served As Commissioner Of Both The Commission On Hospitals And Health Care And The Office Of Health Care Access

Application of the Code’s post-state employment provisions to an individual who served as Commissioner of both the Commission on Hospitals and Health Care and the Office of Health Care Access discussed.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-5 Application Of The Ban On Contingent Fee Lobbying To A Real Estate Transaction

The Lobbyist Code bans contingent fee lobbying. A real estate broker negotiating with and selling property to the state on a contingent fee basis does not violate this provision. Rather, the activity is exempt under the "salesperson" exemption to the administrative lobbying requirement.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-6 Post-State Employment Restrictions On The Fostering Of Goodwill

The Code’s post-state employment rules do not prohibit a former state official from meeting with a colleague of his former agency in a social setting. If, however, the former official is asked to attend such an event paid for by his current lobbyist employer, the activity will be deemed to be "in furtherance of lobbying", e.g., fostering goodwill. Therefore, the former official should not attend the social/business event, for one year after leaving state service, if members of his former agency are expected to be present.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-7 Lobbyist Reporting Of Expenditures For “JF” Parties

If a lobbyist is asked to contribute to the cost of a legislative "JF" party, he or she must obtain, in writing, from the Legislative Committee, an estimate of the expected number of attendees.  This information is required in order to determine whether the itemized reporting threshold (ten dollars per person) will be met.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-8 Valuation Of Reportable Lobbyist Expenditures For Legislative Receptions

In reporting itemizable legislative receptions, lobbyists should disclose only the dollar value of the benefits which have been "directly and personally received" by the attendees. Overhead costs should not be included in these itemized totals.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-9 Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §§1-84b(b) And (c) To Employees Of The Office Of Consumer Counsel (This opinion was partly overturned by AO 2009-1)

An individual who is a durational project manager at the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) will be considered an OCC employee for purposes of the Public Officials Code. For purposes of the Code’s post-state employment provisions, the OCC will be deemed to be part of the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC). Consequently, the individual may not appear, for compensation, before the entire DPUC for one year after leaving state service.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-10 Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(b) To State Employees Competing For Second Injury Fund Contract

The State is considering privitization of its Second Injury Fund. A group of current state employees who staff the fund, acting as a private entity, may bid on and accept a contract to furnish the same services they currently perform. If selected, however, for one year after leaving state service they will be restricted to their current compensation levels, and will not be allowed to attempt to renegotiate a more profitable agreement with their former agency.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-11 Reportability Of Lobbyists’ Time Spent On Certain Aspects Of Ethics Code Compliance And Education

Pursuant to the Lobbyist Code’s reporting requirements, and in keeping with the legislative intent favoring disclosure, registrants must report expenditures made or received for time spent filling out financial report forms, educating oneself regarding the Code or complying with a Commission audit. All such activities are reportable as being "in furtherance of lobbying."

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-12 High Sheriff’s Use of State-Paid Clerical Staff

A High Sheriff may use his state-paid clerical staff to process requests to his office for service of process. He may not, however, utilize this staff to type a return, photocopy documents or prepare and process bills to collect the sheriffs personal fees.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-13 Application Of Post-State Employment Restrictions To Laid-Off CHFA Employee

A laid-off state employee of a housing finance authority is subject to the Code’s post-state employment provisions, regardless of the fact his termination was involuntary. Additionally, for purposes of the Code a loan, implemented by written agreement, will be considered a "contract."

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-14 Cable Advisory Council Members Are Not Public Officials Within The Meaning Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-79(k)

Members of a cable advisory council are not "public officials" under the Code’s definition and are, therefore, not subject to the provisions of the State’s Code of Ethics.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-15 Application Of The Code Of Ethics To The Spouse Of A High Sheriff Providing Support Services To Deputy Sheriffs

The spouse of a high sheriff may provide clerical services to deputy sheriffs provided: 1. Her remuneration does not exceed fair market value; and 2. The level of activity is approximately equivalent to her workload before her husband assumed the Office of High Sheriff. 

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-16 State Employee Who Is Officer Of Professional Association Which Is Regulated By Her Agency

A state employee is the President-Elect of a professional association regulated by her agency. As the Commission has previously ruled, payment of the official’s expenses by the lobbyist/association while on association business is not a prohibited gift. Since the position is uncompensated, it is not subject to the Code’s restrictions regarding outside employment. The Agency, however, has statutory authority to establish additional rules to address any potential conflict of interests.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-17 Review Board Part Of DEP For Purposes Of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84b(b)

For purposes of the Code’s post-state employment rules, The Underground Storage Tank Petroleum Clean-Up Account Review Board is part of the Department of Environmental Protection.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-18 Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84b(b) When Representative From One’s Former Agency Is A Member Of A Task Force

The Code’s one year prohibition on compensated appearances before one’s former agency will apply to appearances before a task force, if a member of that agency serves on the task force.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-19 Interpretation Of The Code’s "Necessary Expenses" Definition

A public official may not accept as "Necessary expenses" recreation (e.g., golf) which is included as part of a conference registration fee.

ADVISORY OPINION NO.  96-20 Former Commissioner Of Commission On Hospitals And Health Care Barred By Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(a) From Accepting Employment Regarding A Particular Matter

The post-state employment ban on switching sides in a particular matter prohibits a former member of the Commission on Hospitals and Health Care from representing a health care provider regarding an application for a certificate of need (CON) when, in his official capacity, the member previously advised the health care provider regarding an earlier application for the same CON.

ADVISORY OPINION NO.  96-21 Application of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(1)

The Code’s ban on interference with a lobbying contract will only apply when the actions are taken to benefit another lobbyist.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-22 Providing Legislative Information Through Use Of On-Line Computer Service Is Lobbying

Information regarding the promotion or opposition of legislation which is made available to state legislators through an on-line computer service constitutes "Lobbying" as that term is defined in the Lobbyist Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-23 Prohibition of Contingent Fee Lobbying Contracts

The prohibition on contingent fee lobbying will bar a client from changing the terms of a contract because it is dissatisfied with the outcome of its lobbyist’s work. If, however, a budgetary constraint prevents payment of an agreed upon fee, that is not a contingency based on "the outcome of any legislative or administrative action." Therefore, in that circumstance the lobbyist will have to pursue other legal remedies in order to obtain full payment.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 96-24 Application Of The Provisions Of The Code Of Ethics The Regulated Industry

The Insurance Commissioner was not barred, under the Code, from acting on an acquisition proposal involving his former employer.  Specifically: 1. The majority of his stock options in the entity in question were placed in a blind trust, obviating any conflict.  With regard to the Commissioner's knowledge of two other options, one was too remote to be directly affected by the acquisition and the other Commissioner agreed not to exercise; 2.  The Commissioner's other financial interests in the entity (e.g., annuity) would not be affected by his decision on the acquisition; and 3. Any effect on the Commissioner's son's stock interests would be de minimis.

 


 

-1995-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-1   Application Of Revolving Door Law To Former Division Of Criminal Justice Investigator

A review of the post-state employment restrictions of Conn. Gen. Stat. §§1-84a and 1-84b as applied to a former State investigator, employed as a private investigator by the family of a homicide victim.  The private employment was accepted more than one year after the petitioner left state service, no confidential information was threatened, and the homicide was not a “particular matter” within the meaning of §1-84b(a).  The Commission rejected the petitioner’s argument that, given the commonality of interests between the victim’s family and the State, the provisions of §1-84b(b) should not apply.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-2  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(c) To Out-of-State Employment

The Commission confirmed that §1-84b(c), which prohibits certain individuals from accepting employment with a regulated business for one year after leaving state service, applies with full force even where the offered position is located out-of-state and involves no contact with one’s former state agency.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-3  Business With Which A DCF Employee Is Associated Entering Into Contracts With Her Agency

After an open and public contract process, as required by §1-84(i), a DCF employee’s business may enter into contracts with the agency, provided the employee does not exploit confidential information for the benefit of the business and provided further that neither the employee nor a subordinate is in a position to take actions affecting the business, in violation of §§1-84(b) and (c).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-4   Further Interpretation Of Term “Organized Primarily For The Purpose Of Lobbying” As Used In Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-95(a)(3)

A review of the criteria which determine whether a registered lobbyist must disclose the name and address of any person contributing $1,000 or more to the registrant’s lobbying activities in any calendar year, pursuant to §1-95(a)(3).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-5   Effect Of Ethics Code On Deputy Commissioner Of Department Of Veterans’ Affairs Also Serving As Selectman In Waterford

Part-time employment as a municipal selectman is permissible under the Ethics Code, provided the Deputy Commissioner’s state responsibilities are given precedence and provided further that certain decisions affecting Waterford are assigned to the Commissioner or another Deputy Commissioner.  The application of §4-8, which appears to prohibit “other gainful employment” for Deputies, is beyond the jurisdiction of the Office of State Ethics.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-6  Reportability Of Activities Exempt From Lobbyist Registration Pursuant To Regulations Of Connecticut State Agencies §1-92-42a

Those activities which are excluded “when determining whether a person is required to register as a . . . lobbyist,” as listed at §1-92-42a(e) of the Commission’s Regulations, need not be reported to the Office of State Ethics, even when carried out by a registered lobbyist.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-7  Interpretation Of The Term “Public Office” As Used In Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-80(b)

A Justice of the Peace is a “public official” within the meaning of §1-80(b), which provides that no member of the Office of State Ethics shall hold or campaign for any public office or have held/been a candidate for public office for a three-year period prior to appointment.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-8   University Professor’s Acceptance Of Outside Employment As A Probate Judge

The flexibility of the petitioner’s University schedule makes is possible for him to undertake the responsibilities of a probate judgeship without compromising his academic duties.  Compare Advisory Opinion No. 94-22, in which the Commission found that a probate judge’s responsibility to give precedent to judicial matters over all others would impermissibly force a state employee to relegate his state employment to a subordinate role, in violation of §1-84(b).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-9  Application Of Amendments To Post-State Employment Restrictions Affecting Attorneys Formerly Employed By The Division Of Criminal Justice

A review of the application of P.A. 94-1 (Special Session) and P.A. 95-144 which, together, amended §1-84b(b) to permit former State’s Attorneys, immediately upon leaving state service, to appear before the Division of Criminal Justice with respect to representation of a client in a matter under the jurisdiction of a court. 

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-10  Gifts Provided By A Registrant To State Employee Participants In A Program Offered By The Office Of The Treasurer

Promotional benefits offered to state employees to increase participation in the Treasurer’s direct deposit program are exempt from the definition of “gift” pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-91(g)(7), and need not be tracked for purposes of the Code’s gift limitation, even when provided by a registrant.  A one-time sweepstakes prize, offered for the same purpose, is a gift to the state within the meaning of §1-91(g)(5) and may also be provided by a registrant, without regard to the value.  Although, in general, gifts to the state are offered in furtherance of lobbying and must be reported, the sweepstakes prize need not be reported.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-11  Interpretation Of The Terms “Representative Of A Manufacturer” And “Salesperson” As Used In The Definition Of Lobbying

The lobbyist registration exceptions of §1-91(k)(2) for a “salesperson” or “representative of a manufacturer” (since changed to “representative of a vendor”), will be applied to individuals whose duties ordinarily and customarily involve covering an assigned territory on a routine basis, visiting or otherwise contacting potential customers, and attempting to interest these customers in products or services.  The terms do not apply to individuals who set corporate policy or are involved in substantive corporate decision making.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-12  Negotiation Of A Lease Or Other Contract With An Executive Branch Or Quasi-Public Agency When Undertaken By An Attorney On Behalf Of A Client Is Exempt From The Definition Of “Lobbying” As “The Practice Of Law” Within The Meaning Of P.A. 95-144

Communications with a state agency which precede the signing of a contract, yet do not relate to a response to an RFP within the meaning of Commission Regulations §1-92-42a(e), regarding the terms of a proposed agreement, presumptively constitute “lobbying” under the expanded definition of the term “administrative action,” §§1-91(a), 1-91(k).  Nevertheless, an attorney’s negotiation of a lease or other contract establishing the legal rights and responsibilities of his or her client constitutes “the practice of law,” and is exempt from the definition of “lobbying,” pursuant to §1-91(k)(3).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-13  Lawyer Who Works To Affect Legislation Is Lobbyist As That Term Is Defined By Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists

Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-91(k)(3) exempts from the definition of “lobbying” an attorney’s communications, made while engaging in the practice of law, regarding any matter other than legislative action or an agency’s action on rules or regulations.  Lawyers attempting to influence legislative action or administrative rules or regulations are engaged in “lobbying,” and must register and report if they meet the relevant financial threshold of §1-91(1).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-14  DAS Computer Technician May Accept Elective Municipal Position As Constable

The petitioner’s proposed paid, elective, municipal position as a Constable for the City of Manchester did not pose a conflict of interest within the meaning of Commission Regulations §5-266a-1, nor would his independence of judgment or confidential information be compromised by the nature of such employment within the meaning of §§1-84(b) and (c).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-15  Consultant Who Is Neither A Family Member Nor Business Associate Of State Servant Is Not Subject To “Open And Public” Requirements Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84(i)

An intimate friend who is neither a member of a state servant’s “immediate family,” within the meaning of §1-79(f), nor part of an "associated business," within the meaning of §1-79(b), does not trigger the requirement, of §1-84(i), of an open and public state contract process.  If the nature of the friendship is such that the state servant’s own finances would be affected by the outcome of the contract process, the state servant is required to recuse him- or herself, pursuant to §§1-84(c), 1-85 and 1-86.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-16  Application Of The Code To Students Employed By A State College

Students employed by a state college, including students participating in a work study program, are “state employees” within the meaning of §1-79(m), and subject to the terms of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials and State Employees.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-17  Limitations On Outside Employment Of Claims Commissioner

Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-141, et seq., the State Claims Commissioner is the sole adjudicator of a broad spectrum of claims which may be brought against state agencies and state personnel.  As a result, his representation of private clients before certain state agencies, in addition to those listed at §1-84(d), would impermissibly impair the independence of his judgment, in violation of §1-84(b), or constitute a use of his state office (however inadvertent), in violation of §1-84(c).  Unlike the limitations of §1-84(d), the restriction against the petitioner’s appearance before such agencies will not apply to his law partners or any employee of his law firm.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-18  Application Of The Code’s Necessary Expense Provisions To Participation In Charitable Events

A state servant’s participation in a charity golf tournament is not an appearance for which he may accept “necessary expenses” within the meaning of §1-84(k).  Nevertheless, the Code’s gift provisions will be interpreted to value the gift of participation in the tournament at the fair market value of the benefit received, i.e., the actual greens fees, etc., rather than at the tournament’s entry fee, most of which is a contribution to the underlying charity.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-19  A Public Official Acting Within The Scope Of His Authority Is Not A Lobbyist Within The Meaning Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-91(1)

A Superior Court judge who makes reports and recommendations to the General Assembly pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §47a-73 is exempt, pursuant to §1-91(1)(1), from the necessity of registering as a lobbyist.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 95-20  Client Who Pays Attorney To Engage In Exempt Activities Need Not Register As A Client Lobbyist

An individual or entity that pays an attorney to engage in an activity which, as “the practice of law,” is exempted from the definition of lobbying by §1-91(k)(3), has not made “lobbying” expenditures and need not register as a client lobbyist or report such expenditures to the Office of State Ethics.

 


 

 -1994-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-1  Official Action By The Chairperson Of The Accountancy Board Regarding Matter Relating To A Former Private Client 

The Board of Accountancy initiated an investigation of the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen & Co. relating to the performance of professional services for Colonial Realty Company.  The Board was also considering action against an individual partner of Arthur Andersen with whom the Chairman of the Board had a personal friendship.  The Chairman is a partner in another accounting firm.  That Firm previously performed services for Colonial.  Furthermore, the daughter of one of his partners worked for Colonial.  In spite of his personal and business relationships with the various parties, neither the Chairman, his family members, nor his firm can derive any financial benefit or loss from any action the Board may take regarding the parties involved.   Therefore, under the Code, he does not have to recuse himself from the matter.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-2  Application Of Code Of Ethics To Court Reporters

Court reporters and court monitors are state employees.  The contracts made between these state employees and those ordering transcripts from them are not subject to the open and public process requirements of §1-84(i) of the Code, because in preparing these transcripts, court reports or monitors are performing work that is part of their state job duties.  If a court reporter or monitor charges more than the statutory rate for such transcripts, however, he or she has inappropriately used his or her state position in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84(c).  And, although the Judicial Department has allowed reporters and monitors to charge an “expedited” rate, if such a charge is imposed without statutory authority, §1-84(c) is again violated.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-3  Application Of The Ban On Contingent Fee Lobbying To A Government Relations Contract Incentive Payment

A lobbyist’s contract contains an incentive payment for helping the client secure financing from a quasi-public agency.  The lobbyist may be retained to seek a directly related legislative change which would “clearly contribute to the Client’s obtaining the financing it seeks.”  In this case, the incentive payment is substantially dependent on the legislative outcome.  It will be impossible for the lobbying firm’s personnel to set aside their knowledge that legislative success may very well result in the subsequent receipt of an additional incentive payment.   Consequently, the lobbyist should not engage in the proposed lobbying work as long as its prior contract with the client contains the incentive payment provision.  Otherwise, the contract will be deemed contingent fee lobbying in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-97(b).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-4  Disclosure Of Advertising Expenditures

Pursuant to the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists, certain purchases of advertising space in a program booklet for a political fundraising event are excluded from the Code’s definition of “Gift”, as long as these expenditures are properly reported under the State’s Elections Statutes.  The Office of State Ethics was asked whether such purchases were, nonetheless, reportable to the Commission as expenditures in furtherance of lobbying and/or expenditures for the benefit of a public official.

Since its inception in 1978, the Office of State Ethics has, in general, considered campaign contributions by lobbyists to be expenditures in furtherance of lobbying.  Additionally, when given to an incumbent, the Commission believes these contributions clearly constitute expenditures for the benefit of a public official.  The General Assembly, however, has rejected Commission attempts to obtain more specific legislative or regulatory authority requiring reporting of these campaign contributions; and has, alternatively, established a system of lobbyist reporting of contributions to the Office of the Secretary of the State (P.A. 93-251).  Consequently, absent a legislative change, lobbyist expenditures for advertising space in political fundraising booklets should not be reported to the Office of State Ethics.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-5  Spouses Serving In Same University Department

State employee-spouses may work in the same department, however, one’s supervisory authority may not be used either to the direct advantage of a spouse-subordinate or to the detriment of the spouse-subordinate’s competitors.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-6  Outside Teaching By Senior Staff Of The Real Estate Division Provided To Individuals Subject To Regulation By The Real Estate Commission

The State Ethics Commission had previously issued two rulings, Declaratory Ruling 84-A and Advisory Opinion No. 86-6, which permitted staff of the Real Estate Division (Division), Department of Consumer Protection, to teach real estate licensure prerequisite and continuing education courses.  The Commissioner of Consumer Protection asked the Commission to review these decisions.  Upon review, the Commission concluded that the prior rulings should be reversed.

Specifically, involvement of the Division staff in the accreditation of the prerequisite and continuing education schools and courses by the Real Estate Commission creates an unacceptable conflict of interest.  Additionally, the outside teaching compromises, in numerous ways, the Division staff’s ability to perform their official duties.  (E.g., staff cannot work on legislative proposals which would alter the statutory education requirements, since such changes could affect their outside financial interests.)

Finally, the individuals currently teaching, the Director and Assistant Director of the Division, play a significant role in the Real Estate Commission’s administration and enforcement of Connecticut ’s Real Estate laws.   As a consequence, these senior regulatory employees are providing outside, compensated teaching to those they regulate, in violation of the fundamental tenets of the Ethics Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-7 State Livestock Inspector’s Outside Employment As A Municipal Animal Control Officer

A state employee may not accept certain additional employment if her outside activities would be subject to review by her own state agency and/or her position at the state agency would lead the potential outside employer to believe that the employee has an “in” at the agency which would allow the outside employer to receive special treatment.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-8  Outside Employment While On Leave Of Absence

A Department of Public Health and Addiction Services employee who wishes to work elsewhere while on medical leave from the state should avoid outside employment with a regulated entity and must protect the confidentiality of information to which she has access as a state employee.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-9  State Employee’s Former Employer Bidding For State Contract

The former employer of a current Department of Children and Families employee submitted a bid to do consulting work for DCF.  There is no Code restriction regarding contact with one’s former employer, when coming from the private sector to state service.  Furthermore, absent any quid pro quo, there is no restriction on the employee’s involvement in either selecting the former employer or any competing vendor; nor is she precluded from implementing the project in question.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-10  Application Of The Gift Law To Lobbyist’s Use Of A Boat

If a lobbyist entertains a public official on a boat, the use of the boat may have gift implications.  If the lobbyist is using the boat to host a party and the boat does not leave the dock, then the use of the boat is analogous to hosting a party at any other facility; any costs in using the boat would be considered overhead not personally and directly received and, therefore, excluded from the gift/expenditure for the benefit of a public official calculation.  An outing on a boat, however, is a gift.  In that case, if the lobbyist pays to charter a boat, the value to the public official is determined by the cost charged to the lobbyist divided by the number of individuals who attended the outing.   If the lobbyist is using his or her own boat, the lobbyist must determine how much a private charter company would charge to take out the same number of individuals on a boat of similar size and accommodations.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-11  Interpretation Of Term “Organized Primarily For The Purpose Of Lobbying” As Used in Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-95(a)(3)

The determination as to whether an entity is organized primarily for lobbying is based on the totality of the circumstances surrounding the entity’s lobbying activity rather than on an inflexible specific percentage of the overall activity which must be lobbying-related.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-12  DSS Employee’s Ownership Of Pharmacy Which Has Contract With DSS

A Department of Social Services internal auditor may own a pharmacy which contracts with his agency, provided he is not involved with DSS procedures which might directly affect the business or his spouse, and provided further than he does not use confidential information to further the business.  An annual public notice of the availability of DSS provider agreements will, in this case, meet the requirement of an “open and public” contract process between the state and a state employee or his business.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-13  Application Of Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To Individuals Hired Through Special Payroll Account Or Under Personal Services Agreement

Individuals hired on a special payroll account or under a personal service agreement are not state employees for the purpose of applying the Code of Ethics.  Therefore, if the spouse of a state employee or public official wishes to be hired in this manner, in the amount of $100.00 or more, the hiring must comply with the open and public process requirements of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84(i).  And, whenever a spouse/supervisor is required to take any action which would significantly affect the financial interest of the other spouse, including oversight of his or her day-to-day work, the supervisor must avoid the potential conflict of interest and follow the procedures outlined in Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-86(a).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-14  Outside Employment Of Revenue Examiner, Department Of Revenue Services, Selling Deferred Compensation Plans

The responsibilities of the subject employee in DRS are to conduct sales and use tax audits.  The Commission received an inquiry as to whether it would be permissible for the employee to sell deferred compensation plans to both state and non-state employees.

The prohibition against performing outside work for those subject to regulation by a state employee’s agency was not intended to be so broad as to extend to every entity or individual theoretically regulated by an agency.   Rather, the ban only prohibits outside activity which is closely related to the state servant’s official duties or responsibilities.   It follows, therefore, that the employee should not sell to any individual who has been selected to be or is currently being audited by DRS.   Furthermore, he should not sell to any individual who has either an ownership interest in, or occupies a position which is involved in the audit process for, any entity which has been selected to be or is currently being audited by DRS.  Additionally, it would be a violation of Conn. Gen. Stat.  §1-84(c) to use information obtained through his state position to select potential clients or to sell to his subordinates in DRS.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-15  Application Of Outside Employment Rules To State Environmental Analyst’s Private Work In Wetland Delineation

Where an employee’s state duties do not involve any of the work he proposes to perform in his private capacity, and where the employee indicates that he will refrain from taking on or charging for any outside activities which might result in DEP review of his private work, a state environmental analyst may accept private part-time employment performing wetlands delineations.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-16  Application Of Code Of Ethics To Member Of Connecticut Medical Examining Board

The Connecticut Medical Examining Board is within the Department of Public Health and Addiction Services.  A member of the CMEB, both while serving in that capacity and for a year thereafter, may not represent anyone for compensation with regard to an investigation which might ultimately be resolved by the CMEB.  Additionally, the CMEB member may not privately work on any matter involving DPHAS personnel with whom he may work in his official CMEB capacity.

The revolving door laws are personal to the CMEB member and, therefore, do not extend to his law firm.  He may not, however, profit from the work of others at the firm performed in connection with DPHAS in the year after he leaves the Board.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-17  Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat.  §1-84(b) To Former State Prosecutor

Conn. Gen. Stat.  §1-84(b) prohibits executive branch state employees, for one year after leaving state service, from representing anyone, other than the state, for compensation, before their former agency.  In Advisory Opinion No. 86-11 the Commission had held that a prosecutor’s “former agency” is the Division of Criminal Justice, and that prosecutors were not required to wait a year before representing a criminal defendant before a State court.  The petitioner in Advisory Opinion No. 94-17 asked whether the Commission would reach the same conclusion if the State court were the Judicial District to which the prosecutor was formerly assigned.   The Commission held that no greater restrictions apply to a former prosecutor’s appearance before the Judicial District to which he or she was assigned than to any other; nevertheless, the prohibition against interaction with the Division of Criminal Justice would preclude negotiating with the prosecutor, etc., and would render such representation problematic, at best.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-18  Review Of Rules Regarding Two Spouses Working In Same Department Of State Agency

A seasonal state employee at Hammonasset Beach State Park may work at the park with her husband, who is the camp manager, provided that, from the hiring process to the evaluation process, her husband refrains from taking any action which furthers his spouse’s financial interests.  The opinion summarizes the steps which must be taken to avoid such a conflict of interest.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-19  Reportability Of Gifts To The State

The Commission has previously ruled that reportable activities “in furtherance of lobbying” include “activities and expenditures which foster good will between lobbyists and public officials…unless the activity is clearly personal and unrelated to any lobbying purpose.”  In this Opinion, the Commission held that permissible gifts to the State (e.g., fax machine given by lobbyist to a state agency) are “in furtherance of lobbying” and, hence, reportable.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-20  Former Department Of Mental Health Employee Testifying In Suit Against Department Of Correction

Based upon the post-state employment bans against “switching sides” in a particular matter and using confidential information, a former DMH employee who co-authored a report regarding prison mental health services may not serve as an expert witness of such conditions on behalf of inmate-plaintiffs suing the Department of Correction.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-21  Effect Of Outside Employment Restrictions On Proposed Preparation Of Private Publication By Department Of Public Works Employee For Sale To Design Professionals

A project coordinator at the state Department of Public Works, whose duties include approving and/or denying invoices from architects and engineers working on state projects, may not prepare a publication for sale to the groups of individuals with whom he deals in his state capacity.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 94-22  State Employee May Not Accept Outside Employment As Probate Judge

The priority of one’s full-time state employment is impermissibly impaired by the responsibilities of a probate judge, whose judicial duties “take precedence over all his other activities.”

 


 

-1993-

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-1  Code Of Ethics Prohibits Executive Director Of Judicial Review Council From Also Pursuing Active Practice As Litigation Attorney

The Commission considered the question of whether, under the provisions of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials, the state employee Executive Director of the Judicial Review Council (JRC) could simultaneously conduct a private practice as a trial attorney.  The JRC is the agency empowered to investigate complaints of wrongful conduct by, among others, the judges of the state supreme, appellate and superior courts; and its Director is statutorily authorized to investigate and prosecute such complaints.

As the State Ethics Commission has consistently held, conflicts of interest, both real and apparent, are inevitable and unavoidable when a state regulatory employee seeks to appear for compensation before those he regulates.  Additionally, in this instance, the conflicts are compounded by the importance of the position in question and the clear opportunity for misuse of sensitive confidential information.  Consequently, the Commission ruled that the Executive Director of the JRC may not simultaneously engage in the private practice of law before those he publicly regulates.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-2  Student Trustee Seeking Employment Within A College Under The Board Of Trustee’s Jurisdiction

Student Trustees are elected by the students enrolled at the State Regional Community Colleges to serve on its Board of Trustees.  All other board members are appointed by the Governor.  The definition for public officials under the Code of Ethics only includes the members appointed by the Governor.  Therefore, the Commission does not have jurisdiction over the conduct of the two student trustees and cannot prohibit a student trustee from applying for or accepting a position within the community college system.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-3  Application Of Code Of Ethics To Outside Employment Of Special Revenue Employees

The Executive Director of the Division of Special Revenue (Division) asked how the Code of Ethics for Public Officials applied to the proposed outside employment of two Division employees.

In the first instance, an individual employed by the State as a parimutuel clerk in the OTB system wished to be employed in the same capacity on a part-time basis by a jai-alai association licensed by the Division.  According to the Division, the clerk is not privy to confidential or otherwise sensitive information.  Additionally, it does not appear that the clerk’s state job performance will be influenced, either directly or indirectly, by the proposed outside employment.  Consequently, the outside work would seem to involve nothing more than the use of skills garnered in state service; and is, therefore, not prohibited by the Code.

In the second instance, a State OTB supervisor wished to work part-time at a privately owned and operated concession stand located in the betting facility where the individual was employed by the State.  The supervisor has no official duties in connection with the stand or its operators.   Although the individual would be working privately at the same facility where he is employed by the State, there is no apparent conflict of interest.  Therefore, the outside work is not prohibited under the provision of the Code.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-4  Legislator Taking Official Action On Bills Which May Affect Spouse’s Employer

The spouse of a state senator works for a defense subcontractor and his job responsibilities include seeking ways to diversify to commercial work.   The Senator is a member of the Commerce Committee which votes on legislation dealing with manufacturing assistance and defense diversification.  The employer is not a business with which the Senator is associated.  Although legislation may benefit the employer, it will not have a direct financial impact on either the Senator or her spouse.  The Code does not specifically prohibit a public official from taking official action which would benefit either one’s employer or one’s spouse’s employer, unless the employer had improperly influenced the legislator.  Therefore, absent any information which would indicate improper influence, the Senator may take official action on legislation dealing with defense diversification, even if such action will simultaneously fulfill her spouse’s stated job objectives.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-5  Application Of The Post-State Employment Provisions Of The Code To Division Of Special Revenue Personnel Laid Off Upon Privatization Of Off-Track Betting System

Several Division of Special Revenue employees asked what limitations they faced if a proposed privatization plan were put into effect and they were laid off.  As former executive branch employees, all of the petitioners would be subject to restrictions on the use of confidential information (§1-84a), switching sides on a particular matter (§1-84b(a)), returning to their former agency within one year on behalf of anyone other than the State (§1-84b(b)) and accepting employment with a party to a contract which they awarded or negotiated while in state service (§1-84b(d)).  In addition, certain members of the agency would be precluded, while in office, from negotiating for, seeking or accepting employment with any business subject to regulation by the Department of Revenue Services, the Division of Special Revenue or the Gaming Policy Board and, further, would be precluded, for one year after leaving office, from accepting employment with any such business.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-6  Application Of Codes Of Ethics To Financial Benefits Received From A Lobbyist In Connection With One’s Non-State Responsibilities

A public official or state employee who is offered benefits, by a lobbyist, in his capacity as a municipal office holder may accept such benefits, without consequences under the Code of Ethics for Public Officials, where the benefit is integral to such person’s ability to perform as a municipal office holder.   Where the benefit is not integral to the office holder’s performance, a benefit offered by a lobbyist will be fully subject to the gift limitations and reporting requirements of the Code, regardless of the reason for the offer.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-7  Application Of Codes Of Ethics To Gift Subscription Of Christian Science Monitor

Subscriptions to newspapers provided to individual state legislators and other state employees or officials are gifts under the Codes of Ethics and are subject to the Codes' gift limits.  However, a subscription provided gratis for public or general state use (e.g., an annual subscription offered to the state library) would qualify as a gift to the state, and, because it does not benefit any one state servant, would not be subject to the gift restrictions.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-8  Member Of Law Firm Serving As Consultant To Legislative Committee

An attorney had been hired as a consultant to the Commerce Committee of the General Assembly.  The Attorney asked whether this relationship would restrict his law firm’s ability to represent clients involving proceedings with the State.  The Code’s restrictions regarding representation before certain state agencies apply to public officials and/or state employees.  As a consultant, the attorney is neither.  The only provision which applies to the consultant is Conn. Gen. Stat.  §1-86e, which prohibits independent contractors of the state from using confidential information, accepting other state contracts which would impair one’s independence of judgment, or accepting anything of value to influence one’s actions.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-9  Application Of The Code’s “Revolving Door” Provisions To An Entity Employing The Former State Treasurer

The former State Treasurer, Francisco Borges, resigned to become Managing Director of Public Finance at a corporation which insures state and municipal bonds.

The State was considering such insurance for a large (one billion dollars) bond issue.  Due to the size of the contemplated financing, it was anticipated that there would be only three bidders for the bond insurance, one of which would be Mr. Borges’ employer.  The current Treasurer asked whether this scenario created a potential conflict of interest.

As the Ethics Commission has previously held, the Code’s Post-State Employment provisions are, in general, personal to the former State servant, and do not extend to his or her private employer.  As a consequence, Mr. Borges’ company may, with propriety, bid for and be awarded the work in question.  As mandated by the Code, however, Mr. Borges may not, for one year after leaving State service, represent his current employer regarding the bid, negotiations, or any other matter before his former agency, the Office of the Treasurer.  Additionally, in order to insure that one does not benefit financially from a prohibited activity, Mr. Borges may not receive any portion of the fee or other compensation obtained by his employer as a result of its work with the Treasurer’s Office during the one year period.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-10  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To Department Of Income Maintenance Investigator’s Proposed Outside Employment As Consultant On DIM Policy

An investigator for DIM may not run an outside consulting business helping individuals prepare forms for submission to his agency because:  (1) he currently reviews such forms and his independence of judgment as to the performance of his state job may be jeopardized; (2) even if his co-workers alone review the submissions he has helped to prepare, if the application is questioned, the applicant will naturally turn to the investigator/private consultant for assistance, putting him in an untenable ethical situation, and; (3) the fact that he is employed by DIM lends a credibility to his outside consulting business which does not arise from expertise alone, but rather from an inadvertent use of his state position.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-11  Negotiation Of Union Contract By State Employee Who May Become Member Of The Union

Dr. David Newton is the chief management collective bargaining negotiator for the Connecticut State University Board of Trustees in their dealings with the union that represents the teaching faculty, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).  Dr. Newton is the former president of AAUP and has the option, pursuant to his employment contract, to return to the faculty.  The Commission was asked whether negotiating a contract in one’s state position which may affect the individual’s future salary and benefits is prohibited by the Code of Ethics for Public Officials.

Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat.  §1-85, a state employee may not take official action if he has reason to believe or expect that he will derive a direct monetary gain or loss by reason of his official activity which would be different from other members of his profession, occupation, or group.   In this instance, the financial impact would not be direct unless Dr. Newton fully intended to return to his faculty position after the contract negotiations were concluded.  Regardless, any benefit or detriment would affect all members of the profession, i.e. faculty members covered by the AAUP contract, in the same way.  Therefore, §1-85 would not prohibit Dr. Newton’s involvement.

Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat.  §1-86, a state employee has a potential conflict of interest if he would be required in the discharge of his official duties to take an action that would affect his financial interest.   Absent any evidence that Dr. Newton expects to return as a faculty member during the term of the contract in question, there is no potential conflict.  If a potential conflict should exist, Dr. Newton would need to prepare a written statement signed under penalty of false statement describing the matter requiring action, the nature of the conflict, and deliver a copy of the statement to his immediate superior who should assign the matter to another employee.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-12  Disclosure Of Contracts With Quasi-Public Agencies On The Statement Of Financial Interests

Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat.  §1-83, certain public officials and state employees must file statements of financial interests for the preceding calendar year with the State Ethics Commission.  Among other items which must be disclosed on the statement are any leases or contracts with the State entered into by the individual or business with which he was associated.  The quasi-public agencies are not deemed to be a department, institution or agency of the State.  Therefore, leases or contracts with the quasi-public agencies do not need to be disclosed on the statements.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-13  Application Of Various Provisions Of The Gift Law; Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-91(g)

Where the Code of Ethics has specifically exempted items costing a certain amount from the definition of “gift” (for example, a “certificate, plaque, or other ceremonial award costing less than one hundred dollars”, 1-91(g)(6)), a registered lobbyist may not exceed that dollar amount by combining the limit set forth in the exemption with the lobbyist’s separate $50.00 annual gift limit.  Thus, one lobbyist may not give a legislator a plaque costing $130.00

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-14  Reportability Of Time And Money Spent By Registered Client Lobbyists And Their Employees To Attend Various Social Events

The Code of Ethics for Lobbyists requires the disclosure of amounts expended or received by a registrant “in furtherance of lobbying.”  The Commission broadly interprets activities “in furtherance of lobbying” to include those which foster good will between lobbyists and public officials.  Therefore, a registered client lobbyist must report expenditures associated with sending representative to various social functions at which public officials are in attendance, even where issues are not actually discussed.  If a client registrant sends a representative for a purpose other than associating with public officials, the expenditure will be reportable only if the representative actually communicates with the public official(s) in furtherance of lobbying.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-15  Effect Of Merger Of State Agencies On One-Year Prohibition Against Appearing Before Former Agency

The Department of Income Maintenance (“DIM”) and several other agencies have merged to form the new Department of Social Services (“DSS”).  If, after the reorganization, DIM as a whole is easily discernible as a division of the new “super” agency, then a former DIM employee is prohibited by the revolving door rules from appearing before only that division of DSS.   If, however, as appears to be the case, the functions and divisions of DIM are intermingled with those of the other agencies to form the new DSS, then the one-year ban of Conn. Gen. Stat.  §1-84b(b) will apply to DSS in its entirety.  This is so even if the former employee’s department or subdivision of DIM remains intact.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-16  Application Of Revolving Door Laws To Department Of Mental Retardation Regional Residential Manager; When Contract Is “Signed” For The Purposes Of Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(d)

Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(d) forbids a state employee who participated personally and substantially in the negotiation or award of a contract obliging the State to pay fifty thousand dollars or more, or who supervised the negotiation or award of such a contract, from accepting a job with a party to the contract other than the State for one year after leaving state service if the contract was signed less than a year before the state employment is terminated.  A contract is not considered “signed” until the last necessary signature has been obtained.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-17  Acceptance Of Necessary Expense Payments By The Spouse Of The Governor

Under the Code, no state servant may accept a fee or honorarium for an article, appearance or speech given in one’s official capacity.  The individual may, however, receive necessary expense payments for such activities; limited by the Code to the state servant’s necessary travel expenses, lodging, meals and any related conference registration fees.

The issue of the spouse of a public official also receiving such reimbursement was specifically discussed and rejected during the legislative debate on the enactment of these provisions, as being unnecessary to the occurrence of the event and, therefore, tantamount to an illegal fee or honorarium.  In this instance, however, the Commission held that the acceptance of expense payments by the spouse of the Governor was distinguishable from the general rule.  In essence, the Commission found that it was well established, at both the federal and state levels of government, that the spouse of the chief executive is, not infrequently, called upon to perform certain official activities.  Under such circumstances, the spouse of the Governor is functioning as a representative of the State, and is essentially equivalent to a public official.   As a logical and practical consequence, the Commission ruled that, when performing these duties, Mrs. Weicker would be permitted to accept expense payments, under the same limitations and with the same disclosure required of other state servants.

In closing, the Commission noted that this Opinion was unique to the State’s First Lady and should not be construed as extending to any other individual.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-18  Application Of Revolving Door Law To Department Of Mental Retardation Case Manager Who Leaves To Become Private Agency Executive Director

A former state employee may, and should, structure an upfront agreement with his new private employer to avoid the “revolving door” problems most often encountered (e.g., by arranging for another employee to have all contact with his former agency for the first year after his departure from state service).

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-19 (Amended)  Application Of Prohibition On Contingent Fees To Year-End Bonuses Given To Lobbyist Employees

Subsection 1-97(b) of the Lobbyist Code prohibits an individual from being employed as a lobbying for compensation which is contingent on the outcome of any legislative or administrative action.  Consequently, bonuses given to communicator lobbyists based directly on the outcome of their work (i.e., because a particular bill is passed or defeated) are prohibited.

Notwithstanding this prohibition, if a corporate or lobbying firm employer customarily gives its salaried employees a year-end bonus or has established criteria for giving a bonus based on general job performance, then a lobbyist/employee may also receive the bonus.  A job performance bonus may not, however, have as its sole criteria the passage or defeat of specific legislation or regulations.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-20  Valuation Of Gift Of Political Fundraiser Ticket To State Public Official

Under the Ethics Codes, a properly reported political contribution is not considered a “gift.”  Therefore, when a lobbyist purchases a “table” at a political fundraising event for a particular legislator, that purchase, if a legal, properly reported contribution, is not a gift for purposes of the Codes of Ethics.  If, however, the lobbyist then chooses to give one of the tickets to a public official, state employee, or member of such person’s immediate family, to allow the recipient to attend the function, that transaction constitutes a separate gift event, subject to the Codes’ gift limits and reportable to the Commission.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-21  State Regulator Accepting Private Employment In The Regulated Industry

An Environmental Resource Technician in the Department of Environmental Protection’s Wildlife Division asked the Commission whether the Code permitted his proposed part-time outside employment as a state licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator (NWCO).

As part of his state duties, the individual is currently responsible for administering the NWCO program.  As the Commission has consistently held, conflicts of interest, both real and apparent, are inevitable and unavoidable when a state servant directly responsible for regulating a field of private endeavor seeks to be employed in that same field.  Consequently, the Commission held that the NWCO Administrator should not be simultaneously employed in the industry he oversees.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-22  Application Of Revolving Door Law To Vice President And Managing Director Of The Connecticut Development Authority

The one-year ban on accepting employment with a party to a state contract contained in Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-84b(d) applies to any loan of $50,000 or more granted by the State which is memorialized by contract.

ADVISORY OPINION NO. 93-23  Application Of The Code Of Ethics To The Use Of A State Car By An Elected Official During A Campaign

Lieutenant Governor Groark asked the Office of State Ethics to review the policy which she proposed to follow regarding utilization of a state car during her candidacy for the Office of Governor.

As the sitting Lieutenant Governor, Ms. Groark has been given the use of an automobile for travel on state-related business.  Now that she is a declared candidate for the Office of Governor, a question has arisen concerning the propriety of use of the car while engaging in campaign related activities occurring during time periods usually devoted exclusively to state business.

Consequently, Lieutenant Governor Groark proposed the following:  A log will be kept of each day’s travel.  Each log will be identified as to mileage and purpose.  Any activity even remotely deemed to be campaign related will be noted, and a reimbursement of $.28 per mile will be made by the campaign to the State.

Under the provisions of the Code of Ethics, no public official may use his or her office for personal financial gain (§1-84(c)).  Given the inevitable intertwining of activities that occur when an elected official runs for public office, the Office of State Ethics concluded that Ms. Groark’s proposed policy provided an equitable method for avoiding misuse of office for personal gain.  Therefore, the Commission found the policy to be in compliance with the requirements of the Code.

 


 

-1978-1992-

Advisory Opinions 1978 - 1992