Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1993-16

Advisory Opinion No. 1993-16
Advisory Opinion No. 1993-16

Application Of Revolving Door Laws To Department
Of Mental Retardation Regional Residential Manager;
When Contract Is “Signed” For Purposes Of Conn.
Gen. Stat. 1-84b(d)

Thomas Meehan, a residential manager for the Department of Mental Retardation, Region 5 (“DMR”), has asked how the Code of Ethics for Public Officials, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79 et seq., applies if he accepts employment as the executive director of a private agency which he helped to oversee while in state service.  Specifically, Mr. Meehan served on the team negotiating the private provider’s 1992 contract with the state, chaired the region’s placement committee, and oversaw the region’s temporary staffing and quality assurance requirements, including processing capital improvement requests.

Taking the issue of the 1992 contract first, under Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(d), no former state employee who participated 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, may accept a job with a party to the contract other than the state for one year after leaving state service if the contract was executed less than a year before the state employment is terminated.  Participation on a negotiation team certainly qualifies as substantial participation under this section.  See Advisory Opinion No. 86-9, 48 Conn. L.J. No. 11, p. 33 (9/9/86).  Therefore, Mr. Meehan may not accept employment with the private provider until the one-year anniversary of the signing of the contract has passed.

Mr. Meehan has suggested that the operative date should be June 15, 1993, the date that the private agency signed the contract.  He argues that, as of that date, the private provider had agreed to contract terms put forth by DMR.  In fact, however, the agreement itself states that “[t]he department and the State of Connecticut assume no liability for payment until this Service Agreement Amendment is approved and signed…by an authorized official of the department.”  The DMR representative signed the document on July 22, 1992.  The clear language of 1-84b(d) bans acceptance of such employment until “one year after the contract is signed.”  Therefore, Mr. Meehan may not accept such employment until after July 22, 1993.  See Advisory Opinion No. 90-23, 52 Conn. L.J. No. 9, p. 3C (8/28/90).

In addition, of course, if Mr. Meehan is contemplating employment with a particular private provider, he should refrain from involvement in the 1993 negotiation process for any private agency, as well as avoid taking any official action which might benefit his potential employer.  Such constraint will help avoid not only a problem under 1-84b(d), but also any possible problem under Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84(c), which prohibits a state employee from using his office for financial gain.

Once Mr. Meehan accepts new employment, the remaining revolving door laws will apply.  He may never use confidential information acquired in the course of and by reason of his official duties for anyone’s financial gain.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84a.  He is also precluded from ever representing anyone other than the state concerning any particular matter in which he participated personally and substantially while in state service and in which the state has a substantial interest.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(a).

Finally, Mr. Meehan may not represent his new employer, or anyone else, for compensation before DMR for one year after leaving state service.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(b).  “Represent” includes personal appearances (such as attendance at meetings where DMR representatives are present), phone calls, signing applications or other correspondence, and including one’s name on a letterhead.  See, e.g., Advisory Opinion No. 91-24, 53 Conn. L.J. No. 16, p. 1C (10/15/91).

By order of the Commission,

Christopher T. Donohue

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 7:59:47 AM