Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1994-7

Advisory Opinion No. 1994-7
Advisory Opinion No. 1994-7

State Livestock Inspector’s Outside
Employment As A Municipal Animal Control Officer

The Director of the Bureau of Regulation and Inspection at the Department of Agriculture has asked how the Code of Ethics for Public Officials, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79 et seq., applies to a state Livestock Inspector who also accepts a paid appointment as an assistant Animal Control Officer for a municipality.

In general, the Code of Ethics does not prohibit a state employee from using his or her expertise to perform private work.  Any outside employment, however, must be accepted under certain conditions.  First, the individual’s state job must take precedence over outside job duties.  Dr. Sherman has stated that the scheduling of this employee’s outside work may interfere with her state job.  This, of course, would be inappropriate.

Secondly, 1-84(b) of the Code prohibits a state employee from accepting outside employment which would impair his or her independence of judgment with regard to the performance of state duties, or which might induce him or her to reveal confidential information learned in the course of his or her state employment.  Also, the Code prohibits a state employee from using his or her state position to obtain financial gain.  See Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84(c).

Dr. Sherman has raised several issues that indicate that the dual employment he has described presents problems under the Code.  First, he has stated that, in her role as assistant canine control officer, the state employee’s municipal actions would be subject to review by her own state agency.  Review by a co-worker creates a conflict of interest.  See Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84(c), Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 93-10, 54 Conn. L.J. NO. 45, p. 7E (5/11/93) (Lead Investigator at Department of Income Maintenance may not operate a private consulting business advising people on the preparation of documentation for submission to his agency.)

As Advisory Opinion No. 93-10 suggests, it is also troublesome that the state employee may be offered a position at least in part because the outside employer believes that the state employee may have an “in” at the agency, thereby allowing the outside employer to receive special treatment.  This results in an inappropriate, albeit unintentional, use of position by the state worker, in violation of 1-84(c).

Finally, Dr. Sherman has indicated that the department is concerned that the state employee’s independence of judgment as to her municipal duties may be affected by her state responsibilities; specifically, that her familiarity with livestock owners may prevent her from being objective with regard to possible action in livestock/dog attack cases.  Although this certainly appears to be a legitimate concern, since the actions of municipal animal control officers are regulated by the department, it does not fall within the purview of this Commission.

By order of the Commission,

Christopher T. Donohue

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:00:43 AM