Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1996-18

Advisory Opinion No. 1996-18
Advisory Opinion No. 1996-18


Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(b) When Representative
From One’s Former Agency Is A Member Of A Task Force

The General Assembly, on occasion, will establish a Task Force in order to study a particular issue and make recommendations for possible legislative changes. Typically, these Task Forces will have representatives from various state agencies. Brenda Bergeron, State Ethics Commission staff attorney, has asked, for purposes of Conn. Gen. Stat 1-84b(b), whether a former state employee may appear before such a Task Force when a colleague from his former agency is a member.

Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(b), one of the post-state employment rules of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials, prohibits 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. Clearly, the State has a substantial interest in the performance of the Task Force, since future conduct of the Legislature may be based on its recommendations. It can be assumed that each state member of the Task Force will be advocating his or her own agency’s views and, therefore, will have a significant impact on the final recommendations of the study panel.

The rationale for enacting Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(b) was to restrict any contact with former colleagues in order to avoid the potential for a former state employee misusing his prior status to gain preferential treatment for the benefit of a private employer. See, Report to the General Assembly By The Code of Ethics Study Committee, at page 21 (1983). (Report was basis for revisions to the Code of Ethics, including the post-state employment provisions, enacted during the 1983 legislative session.) Since each Task Force member sits as a representative and advocate of his or her own agency, anyone who appears before that Task Force is, in essence, appearing before each of the agencies so represented. Consequently, the opportunity for preferential treatment by one’s former agency colleague is clearly present; i.e., the former employee will have an "insider’s" advantage with at least one member of the Task Force. Under these circumstances, allowance of representation of one’s private employer would frustrate the purpose of Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(b), since the former state servant clearly would be unable to make such submissions directly at the agency level. In order to carry out the underlying purpose of the statutory provision in question, it must be deemed irrelevant by what avenue the problematic contact is made. Therefore, for one year after leaving state service, a former state employee or public official may not appear before any Task Force, on behalf of a private employer, if such Task Force includes a member of his or her former agency.

By order of the Commission,

Maurice Fitzmaurice

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