Ethics: 2007-6
2007

2007-6

 

 

ADVISORY OPINION 2007-6

 

Application of General Statutes § 1-84b (b) to an individual who served in more than one department or agency within his last year of state service

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board issues this advisory opinion in response to a request submitted by an assistant general counsel (counsel) with the Office of State Ethics (OSE).  In that request, counsel asked how the post-state employment restriction found in General Statutes § 1-84b (b) applies to an individual who has worked for more than one department or agency in his last year of state employment.

 

RELEVANT FACTS

 

Counsel presented the following, hypothetical facts.   An individual worked for the Department of Banking (DOB) from January 1, 2006 to June 30, 2006.  He worked for the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) from July 1, 2006 to December 31, 2006.  The individual then left state service.  

 

QUESTION

 

Whether an individual may have more than one department or agency for purposes of § 1-84b (b) if within his last year of state service he served in more than one department or agency, even if not simultaneously.

 

ANALYSIS

 

The revolving door provision at hand states: “No former executive branch or quasi-public agency public official or state employee shall, for one year after leaving state service, represent anyone, other than the state, for compensation before the department, agency, board, commission, council or office in which he served at the time of his termination of service, concerning any matter in which the state has a substantial interest.”  General Statutes § 1-84b (b).  The word “represent” has been broadly interpreted to include any action which reveals the identity of the individual (e.g., a personal appearance, phone call, or signature on a document).  See, e.g., Advisory Opinion No. 2004-15.  See also Advisory Opinion No. 2006-2, where the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board stated that:

 

The rationale underlying § 1-84b (b) is the establishment of a cooling-off period.  Advisory Opinion No. 98-21.  Specifically, it was enacted to prevent former executive branch officials and employees “from using contacts and influence gained during state service to obtain an improper advantage in their subsequent compensated dealings with their former agency.”  Advisory Opinion No. 88-13.  Restrictions under § 1-84b (b), it has been noted, “are aimed at contact with the former agency, since any contact could result in preferential treatment by virtue of the individual’s former status.”  Advisory Opinion No. 86-11.  That said, whether the matter “involved is one with which the individual had contact as a public employee is irrelevant.  The undue influence guarded against is that which results from mere association with the former agency. . . .  A cooling period combats the exertion of undue influence, since that influence tends to fade with time.”  Id.

 

The former State Ethics Commission (former Commission) stated in Advisory Opinion No. 2004-16 that a state employee or public official may have more than one former agency for purposes of § 1-84b (b).  The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board, in Advisory Opinion No.  2006-2, agreed with the former Commission’s conclusion and extended it to a circumstance in which a public official was serving in more than one state agency in the last year of state employment: one was the office of the Governor and one was the University of Connecticut by virtue of his or her role as ex-officio president of the Board of Trustees.  We now take the next logical step and conclude that an individual may have more than one department or agency for purposes of § 1-84b (b) if within his last year in state service he served at more than one department or agency, even if not simultaneously.  To hold otherwise would create an absurd result.  The following example demonstrates the absurdity of limiting a state employee to one department or agency for purposes of § 1-84b (b): a high level employee of State Agency A works for that agency for over twenty years.  He leaves that agency and commences work for State Agency B for a month.  He then leaves state service altogether.  If we limited § 1-84b (b) to the agency where he last served, this individual could—within a little over a month’s time—represent others before State Agency A, clearly circumventing the requisite “cooling-off period.”

 

Thus, to comply with the one-year period, the hypothetical individual in question must not represent anyone for compensation before the Department of Banking until July 1, 2007 and he may not represent anyone for compensation before the Department of Consumer Protection until January 1, 2008.

 

CONCLUSION

 

An individual may have more than one department or agency for purposes of § 1-84b (b) if within his last year in state service he served at more than one department or agency, even if not simultaneously.

 

By order of the Board,

 

 

                                                                                                Patricia T. Hendel, Chairperson

 

 

Dated March 29, 2007

 



Content Last Modified on 4/2/2007 10:44:59 AM