Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1996-17

Advisory Opinion No. 1996-17
Advisory Opinion No. 1996-17


Review Board Part Of DEP For Purposes Of Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(b)

The post-state employment rules of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials prohibit a state employee, for one year after leaving state service, from representing anyone, other than the State, for compensation before the department, agency, board, commission, council or office in which he served at the time of his termination of service, concerning any matter in which the State has a substantial interest. Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(b). A former employee for the Department of Environmental Protection ("DEP"), Attorney Richard M. Fil, has asked if The Underground Storage Tank Petroleum Clean-up Account Review Board ("Review Board") is a separate agency for purposes of 1-84b(b).

An underground storage tank petroleum clean-up account was established to be used by the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection ("DEP") for reimbursement of costs incurred due to leaking tank systems. See, Conn. Gen. Stat. 22a-449c. The Review Board was established, under Conn. Gen. Stat. 22a-449d,, to review applications for reimbursement from the fund. The staff of the Review Board are employees of DEP. The DEP commissioner is a member of the Review Board. Id. The DEP Commissioner is required, in consultation with the Review Board, to adopt regulations that establish procedures for reimbursement from the fund. Conn. Gen. Stat. 22a-449e. All provisions regarding the Review Board are contained in Title 22a, Chapter 446k, Connecticut General Statutes. The Commissioner of DEP is specifically granted the authority to exercise general supervision of the administration and enforcement of chapter 446k. Conn. Gen. Stat. 22a-424(a). Furthermore, funding for the Review Board is provided in the budget for DEP and it is listed in the State Register and Manual 1995 as a board within the DEP.

For purposes of the post-state employee rules, the Commission has consistently viewed the term "agency" to include all subdivisions contained within that agency. State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 93-15. 55 Conn.L.J. No. 6, p. 5C, August 10, 1993. Based on the above enumerated factors and consistent with this precedent, for purposes of the post-state employment rules of Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b, the Review Board is found to be part of DEP. (Compare, State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 91-21 (Commission determined that the Commission on Hospitals and Health Care was independent and a separate agency from Department of Health for purposes of 1-84b(b)).

Furthermore, 1-84b(b) was enacted to prevent a former state employee or public official from exerting undue influence over his former agency. See, The Code of Ethics Study Committee Report to the General Assembly of 1983, at 21 (1983). In a prior advisory opinion, the Commission has held that for one year after leaving state service, a former state employee or public official could not appear before a Task Force, on behalf of a private employer, if such Task Force included a member of his or her former agency. Attorney Fil will be appearing before not only the Commissioner but also other DEP employees who provide services for the Review Board. It follows, therefore, that this, in and of itself, would be an impermissible appearance in violation of 1-84b(b). See, State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. __ Conn. L.J. No.__, p.__, October,__, 1996. Consequently, Attorney Fil may not, for one year after his termination from state service, appear before the Review Board on behalf of his private employer and its clients.

By order of the Commission,

Maurice Fitzmaurice

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:01:37 AM