Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 2002-15

Advisory Opinion No. 2002-15
Advisory Opinion No. 2002-15

Application Of The Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-83(a)(1) Statement Of Financial Interests Filing Requirement To University Of Connecticut Health Center Employee

Several months ago, Attorney Thomas S. O’Grady filed a declaratory ruling petition on behalf of a University of Connecticut Health Center ("Health Center") employee, requesting that the State State Ethics Commission remove the employee’s name from the list of individuals required to file Statements of Financial Interests pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-83(a)(1). These statements provide certain information regarding the filer’s financial interests for the preceding year. Although Attorney O’Grady has withdrawn his petition, a question regarding the extent of the State Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction over the filings remains. Therefore, State Ethics Commission General Counsel and Executive Director Alan Plofsky has asked how that section of the ethics law applies to the designation of an employee position to file.

In addition to listing specific categories of public officials required to file the annual Statement of Financial Interests, 1-83(a)(1) also allows the Governor to impose the filing requirement on certain employees of the executive department and quasi-public agencies. In accordance with this provision, Governor Rowland has established a standard that requires "the filing of Annual Statements of Financial Interests by all persons in the Executive Branch and Quasi-Public Agencies who exercise significant policy-making, regulatory or contractual authority." See letter from Governor John G. Rowland to Alan S. Plofsky, dated February 6, 1995. Each such agency has been apprised of this standard, and annually provides the State Ethics Commission with a list of the names of individuals designated by the agency to file the statement. The decision to designate or remove a name from that list rests with the appropriate agency authority.

With regard to the selection of Health Center employees to file, the appropriate decision-maker is the President of the University of Connecticut, who also heads the Health Center. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 10a-108, 10a-109c(26). Pursuant to a review of positions completed by the University in late 2001, the President designated the position of Director of Risk Management at the Health Center to file. The position was designated "because it was deemed to be capable of significantly shaping University policy with respect to malpractice awards and of effectively recommending settlement awards." See letter from President Philip E. Austin to State Ethics Commission Chairperson Rosemary Giuliano, dated September 4, 2002. The incumbent of the position resigned in the Spring of 2002. According to President Austin, "in light of [the] resignation and in an effort to resolve this matter," he removed the employee’s name from the list of designated filers, although the individual assuming the responsibilities of the position "will be added to the University’s list of required filers for 2002." Id.

It is the State Ethics Commission’s responsibility, not to designate, or "un-designate," the positions to file, but to provide certain notifications and to enforce the designations made pursuant to 1-83(a)(1). Therefore, the individual who, in 2003, performs the duties of the Director of Risk Management for the Health Center, as outlined in President Austin’s letter, will be expected to file a Statement of Financial Interests, beginning with the statement due May 1, 2003.

By order of the Commission,

Rosemary Giuliano

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:04:20 AM