Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1997-21

Advisory Opinion No. 1997-21
Advisory Opinion No. 1997-21

Effect of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 on the Acceptance
of Employment with Indian Tribe Businesses

Section 13 of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 prohibits designated individuals from accepting employment with "any business entity (i) engaged in Indian Gaming Operations in the State ‘and’ (ii) in which a Federally-Recognized Indian Tribe in the State owns a controlling interest…." Rachel S. Rubin, Managing Director and Commission Attorney, has asked whether this provision prohibits acceptance of employment with all businesses in which the Tribe has a controlling interest or only acceptance of employment with their gaming operations.

The intent of the revolving door laws is to prevent government regulators from going to work for the people they regulate, before the passage of an appropriate waiting period, in order to preserve and enhance public confidence in the state regulatory process. See Report to the General Assembly by the Code of Ethics Study Committee, January 15, 1983 (lines 365 - 399). Section 13 deals specifically with Connecticut’s gaming regulatory process. During the legislative debate in the House, Representative Bysiewicz, House Chairperson of the Government Administration and Elections Committee (GAE) speaking in support of Section 13, stated, "It addresses the appearance of impropriety that occurs when high ranking state officials leave state service to take lucrative employment." See House Debate on Bill No. 8005, June 20, 1997 at p. ___. In further support of 13, Representative Knopp elaborated that "the goal of improving the ethics process in this bill, is to enhance the confidence of the public in the institution of government, both the legislative and the executive branch."

Clearly, to permit a state regulator to leave state service to work for any arm of an entity that individual regulates, before an appropriate waiting period, would violate the spirit and intent of the legislation at issue. Furthermore, the insertion of the (i) and (ii) subdivision symbols serves only to emphasize that the standards contained therein are distinct from each other. The legislature could have easily dispensed with the (i) and (ii) symbols had it intended for the standards to be read together as one.

Therefore, in accordance with the apparent intent of the legislation, the Ethics Commission declines to interpret 13 narrowly restricting only gaming operations employment and rather interprets 13 as restricting acceptance of employment with any business in which an Indian Tribe with gaming operations in the State has a controlling interest.

By order of the Commission,

Maurice FitzMaurice

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:02:03 AM