Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 2002-24

Advisory Opinion No. 2002-24
Advisory Opinion No. 2002-24

Application Of The Code’s Post-State Employment Provisions To The
Governor’s Former Co-Chief Of Staff

Counsel for Sidney J. Holbrook, Attorney Thomas Cloutier, has asked the State Ethics Commission for an advisory opinion regarding the application of the Ethics Code’s post-state employment provisions to Mr. Holbrook’s plans to engage in lobbying.

Mr. Holbrook served in the State’s House of Representatives from 1983 to 1995. He served as Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from 1995 to September, 1997 and as Governor Rowland’s Co-chief of Staff from 1997 to April 18, 2002 when he was dismissed by the Governor.

As a threshold question, Attorney Cloutier raises the issue of whether Mr. Holbrook’s dismissal affects the application of the Code to his post-state employment. It does not. Specifically, in interpreting these provisions the Commission has held that the "revolving door" laws remain fully in effect regardless of the individual’s manner of separation from state service. State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 91-9, 52 Conn. L.J. No. 46, p. 3C (5/14/91); see also, Regulations of Conn. State Agencies 1-81-38(e).

The relevant post-state employment provisions are contained in Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84a. and b. Pursuant to 1-84a., Mr. Holbrook may never use confidential information gained in state service for the financial benefit of himself or any other person. Pursuant to 1-84b.: he may never represent anyone, other than the State, concerning any particular matter in which he participated personally and substantially while in State service; for one year he may not represent any party, other than the State, for compensation before his former state agency; and he may not, for one year, accept employment with any party to a state contract valued at $50,000 or more, if, during his last year of state service, he participated substantially in or supervised the award of the contract. 1-84b at (a), (b) and (f).

Applying these provisions to Mr. Holbrook’s potential lobbying of the General Assembly, since his last employer was the Office of the Governor 1-84b(b) will not prohibit his immediate employment as a legislative lobbyist before the General Assembly. Furthermore, a related legislative "revolving door" provision, which prohibits former legislators from engaging in lobbying, only applies for the first year after their separation from service in the General Assembly. Conn. Gen. Stat. 2-16a. Therefore, as long as Mr. Holbrook complies with the other post-state employment rules, enumerated supra, he may now commence work as a legislative lobbyist. Most importantly, pursuant to 1-84b(b) he must refrain from contacting the personnel of the Governor’s Office, for one year from April 18, 2002, regarding any legislative lobbying matter.

Similarly, no post-state employment, or related, provision will prohibit Mr. Holbrook from immediate employment as an administrative lobbyist, provided he does not seek to lobby the Governor’s Office until April 19, 2003. In adhering to this ban it is important to realize that compensated representation of a client before the Governor’s Office includes all forms of contact (e.g., meeting, correspondence, telephone call, etc.) with any member of that Office regarding any state issue.

With regard to compliance with the Code’s other "revolving door" provisions, it is important to recognize that, for purposes of 1-84b(a), a "particular matter" is narrowly defined. Thus, for example, Mr. Holbrook would be prohibited from representing a client seeking to alter or overturn a specific DEP order he issued while Commissioner. He would not, however, be barred from lobbying regarding general issues (e.g., tax policy, welfare reform, health care) which he may have been involved with as the Governor’s Co-Chief of Staff.

Additionally, for purposes of 1-84b(f), it is necessary to understand that substantial participation in the contract process includes any direct, meaningful involvement by the former state official. Therefore, for example, Mr. Holbrook’s recommendation of a company for a state contract, while he was serving on the Governor’s staff, would potentially preclude his employment with that company for the proscribed one year period, regardless of whether he exercised formal authority over the award of the contract.

As always, if and when specific questions arise which require additional guidance, Mr. Holbrook or his Counsel should contact a Commission attorney.

By order of the Commission,

Rosemary Giuliano



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