Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 2002-26

Advisory Opinion No. 2002-26
Advisory Opinion No. 2002-26

Application Of The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials To The Practice Of Recommending A Charity To Defendants In Minor Criminal Cases

State Ethics Commission Managing Director and Commission Attorney Denise Rodosevich has asked how the Code of Ethics for Public Officials, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79 et seq., applies to the following set of facts. It is a common practice of the State’s Attorneys to offer defendants in minor criminal cases the opportunity to make monetary contributions to charitable organizations for disposition of their cases in court. From time to time, a state employee who works at the courthouse may suggest a charity of interest to that employee. The question becomes: may an employee recommend a charity in which he has a financial interest?

The Code of Ethics prohibits a state employee from using his state position for financial gain for, among others, himself or a business with which he is associated. Conn. Gen. Stat.1-84(c). The Code also prohibits a state employee from accepting outside employment that impairs his independence of judgment with regard to his state duties. Conn. Gen. Stat.1-84(b). The mere fact that a state employee or an immediate family member is an unpaid director or officer of a not-for-profit entity does not make that entity a business with which the employee is associated. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79(b). Therefore, for example, if a state employee sits on the board of a charitable organization and wishes to suggest that a contribution be made to that organization, the Code of Ethics would not forbid such a recommendation. If, however, the employee has a financial interest in the non-profit entity, or receives any compensation from the entity, then it would be a conflict of interest under 1-84(b) and 1-84(c) for the employee to recommend to a defendant that a donation be made to the entity, or even to suggest to another state employee that such a recommendation be made.

By order of the Commission,

Rosemary Giuliano
Chairperson

 



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