Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1996-4

Advisory Opinion No. 1996-4
Advisory Opinion No. 1996-4

 Application Of The Code’s Post-State Employment
Provisions To An Individual Who Served As Commissioner
Of Both The Commission On Hospitals And Health Care
And The Office Of Health Care Access

Ms. Gwen Beryl Weltman was appointed by Governor Lowell Weicker to serve from September 4, 1992 until June 30, 1995 as a public member of the Commission on Hospitals and Health Care (CHHC).  In 1994, legislation was enacted to create the Office of Health Care Access (OHCA), with power vested in a three member board, to address health care reform.  Public Act No. 94-3.  CHHC was placed within OHCA, but retained its five commissioners appointed by the Governor and its prior statutory responsibilities.  In 1995, legislation was enacted to restructure OHCA into a one commissioner agency, terminate CHHC and its board and make OHCA its successor agency.  Public Act No. 95-257.  Ms. Weltman was appointed by Governor Rowland to serve as the Acting Commissioner of OHCA from July 1, 1995 until September 30, 1995.

Ms. Weltman has now asked how the post-state employment provisions of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials will restrict her future employment opportunities.

Four generally applicable post-state employment, i.e., “revolving door”, provisions of the Code apply to Ms. Weltman:

She may never use confidential information gained in state service for the financial benefit of any person.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84a.

She may never represent anyone other than the State concerning any particular matter in which she participated personally and substantially as a state servant, if it is one in which the State has a substantial interest.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(a).

For one year after leaving state service, she may not represent anyone, other than the State, for compensation before OHCA concerning a matter in which the State has a substantial interest.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(b).

If she participated personally and substantially in the negotiation or award, or supervised the negotiation or award, of a contract, valued at $50,000 or more, within a year before leaving state service, she could not accept employment with a party to that contract other than the State for a year after leaving state service.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(d).

Furthermore, as a former public member of the CHHC, Ms. Weltman must also comply with the additional restrictions contained in 1-84b(c).  That section imposes more stringent limitations upon certain current and former executive branch public officials and state employees.  These restrictions are imposed only upon persons with significant decision-making or supervisory responsibility in the listed agencies, including the public member of CHHC; and preclude the public official for one year after leaving the agency from accepting employment with any business subject to regulation by that agency.  Regulations of Conn. State Agencies 1-92-40a.  Ms. Weltman served as the public member of CHHC until June 30, 1995.  Therefore, she may not accept employment with a business which was subject to regulation by CHHC until June 30, 1996.

Following the July 1, 1995 dismantling of CHHC and the reorganization within OHCA, the two specific CHHC positions listed in 1-92-40a no longer existed.  The Legislature did not amend 1-84b(c) to include OHCA.  By contrast, during the last legislative session, the Liquor Control Department, one of the listed 1-84b(c) agencies, was abolished and its functions placed within the Department of Consumer Protection.  The Legislature did, however, specifically amend 1-84b(c) to include the office within the Department of Consumer Protection which carries out the duties and responsibilities of the former Liquor Control Department.  Public Act No. 95-195, S. 6.  Consequently, the State State Ethics Commission concludes that it was not the intent of the Legislature to include either OHCA or any distinct division of OHCA which continued the work of CHHC as one of the 1-84b(c) designated agencies.  As a result, there are no further restrictions on Ms. Weltman seeking or accepting employment with a business subject to OHCA regulation by virtue of her position as its Acting Commissioner.

In summary, specific limitations on seeking or accepting employment are established by Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(c) and (d), described above.  The limitations upon a former public official’s activities on behalf of a new employer, established by Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84a, 1-84b(a) and 1-84b(b), may be more meaningfully addressed once the proposed employment has been identified.  Ms. Weltman may, therefore, wish to submit a more specific inquiry when she has a particular position in mind.

By order of the Commission,

David T. Nassef

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