Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1999-31

Advisory Opinion No. 1999-31
Advisory Opinion No. 1999-31

Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(c) To Employment
Offered By A Trade Association

Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84b(c) no individual serving in a position, designated by the State Ethics Commission, at certain state regulatory agencies may accept employment with "…any business subject to regulation by his agency" within one year after leaving the agency. The 1-84b(c) agencies are: the Office of Health Care Access; the Connecticut Siting Council; the Banking Department; the Insurance Department; the Department of Public Safety; the Department of Consumer Protection, Liquor Control Division; the Department of Public Utility Control, including the Division of Consumer Counsel; the Division of Special Revenue; and the Gaming Policy Board. The designated positions, encompassing the Commissioners and senior managers of these agencies, are listed in Regulations of Conn. State Agencies 1-92-40a.

The State Ethics Commission has been asked whether this post-state employment restriction would apply to the acceptance of employment with a trade association made up of the businesses regulated by a 1-84b(c) agency?

The Trade Association in question acts as the principal lobbyist at the state level for its member/businesses, and provides a variety of other services including representation of members at state regulatory proceedings. The Trade Association’s funding is derived from its members’ dues.

The most literal interpretation of 1-84b(c) would lead to the conclusion that the Trade Association is not, in fact, a "business subject to regulation" by the 1-84b(c) agency. The Commission, however, declines to adopt this interpretation, for to do so would allow circumvention of legislative intent. (See, Report To The General Assembly By The Codes Of Ethics Study Committee at p. 20 (1983): The provision at issue was proposed "…to decrease the likelihood that an official will tailor his conduct in office to enhance his opportunities for subsequent private employment in the same field.")

In this instance, the Trade Association is essentially a collection of the member/businesses in the field regulated by the 1-84b(c) agency. Furthermore, the funding for the Trade Association, and consequently the funding for the position in question, emanates primarily from these regulated member/businesses. Therefore, consistent with the underlying purpose of the statutory provision, a trade association composed of businesses regulated by a 1-84b(c) agency may not employ a designated official of that agency until the one year mandated "cooling off" period has elapsed.

By order of the Commission,

Stanley Burdick,

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:02:57 AM