Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 2001-16

Advisory Opinion No. 2001-16
Advisory Opinion No. 2001-16

Application Of The Code To A State Official Responsible For Regulating A Facility Administered By The Official’s Spouse

A public official has asked the State Ethics Commission to address the application of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials to a potential conflict of interests which has come to the official’s attention. Due to state confidentiality requirements which apply to the matter, the issues will be presented as a hypothetical:

A private agency is responsible for providing a variety of residential supports to a client population in state care. A complaint was received by the State regarding the qualify of the health care of individuals in residence at the facility in question. The regional administrator for the state agency which regulates the facility is married to the private provider administrator responsible for residential care.

The application of the Code to the above hypothetical is clear and unambiguous. Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-86(a), if a public official or state employee is required to take an action which would affect the financial interests of the individual’s spouse, the state servant must prepare a written statement, signed under penalty of false statement, describing the potential conflict. The statement must be delivered to the individual’s immediate superior. Id. The immediate superior will then assign the matter to another employee. Id. Pursuant to Commission Regulations this alternative decision maker must not be a subordinate of the individual with the potential conflict. Regulations of Conn. State Agencies 1-81-29.

Clearly, a state investigation of alleged health care violations at a facility administered by one’s spouse qualifies as a potential conflict of interests. Therefore, the 1-86(a) procedures are mandatory in this instance, and will serve to insure that critical health care issues are reviewed and decided in a manner free from both the appearance and actuality of any possible conflict of interests.

By order of the Commission,

Rosemary Giuliano

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:03:54 AM