Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1993-3

Advisory Opinion No. 1993-3
Advisory Opinion No. 1993-3

Application Of Code Of Ethics To Outside Employment
Of Division Of Special Revenue Employees

Robert W. Werner, the Executive Director of the Department of Revenue Services’ Division of Special Revenue (“Division”), has asked how the Code of Ethics for Public Officials, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79 et seq., applies to the proposed outside employment of two Division employees.

The Code of Ethics prohibits a state employee from accepting outside employment if the employment will either impair his independence of judgment as to his state duties or require or induce him to disclose confidential information acquired by him in the course of his state job.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84(b).  Also, a state employee may not use his state office or position to further his own financial interests.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84(c).  When the contemplated outside employment is with an entity regulated by or doing business with the state employee’s agency, special attention should be paid to the Code’s restrictions.  If must be clear, for example, that the employee is not being hired because of his or her state position, and that the rate of pay offered by the private employer is commercially reasonable.  See, e.g., Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 91-10, 52 Conn. L.J. No. 46, p. 5C (May 14, 1991).  The Code does not prevent a state employee from otherwise using expertise gained in state service to pursue outside employment, however.

In the first scenario, an individual currently employed by the State as a parimutuel clerk in the OTB system wishes to be employed in the same capacity on a part-time basis by a jai alai association licensed by the Division.  A parimutuel clerk’s job involves taking bets from patrons, entering the bets, and paying out for winning tickets.  John Meskill, Unit Chief for Planning and Research, indicates that such a clerk is not privy to confidential or otherwise sensitive Division information.  Similarly, it does not appear that the clerk’s performance of his or her state job can or will be influenced, either directly or indirectly, by the proposed outside employment.  Therefore, since this outside work appears to involve nothing more than the state employee’s use of skills garnered in state service, it does not present a problem under the Code of Ethics.

Under the second set of facts, a state OTB line supervisor wishes to work part-time at the privately owned and operated concession stand located in the betting facility where the individual is employed by the State.  According to Mr. Meskill, a line supervisor oversees the parimutuel clerks, examines questionable tickets, and handles general administrative matters.  The line supervisor reports to a manager.  Among other responsibilities, the manager is in charge of responding to complaints or inquiries by the public.  The line supervisor has no official duties in connection with the concession stand or its operators.

This scenario is initially more troubling, since the individual would be working in a private capacity at the same facility where he or she is employed by the State.  If, as it appears here, however, there is no opportunity for a possible violation of 1-84(b) or 1-84(c), and as long as the employee does not in any way neglect his or her state duties in favor of the private employer, this outside employment is not prohibited by the provisions of the Code of Ethics.

By order of the Commission,

Christopher T. Donohue

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