Ethics: 2008-1
2008

 

 

 

ADVISORY OPINION 2008-1

 

Application of Revolving Door Provisions to Judicial Branch Employees

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

            The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board (“Board”) issues this advisory opinion in response to a request submitted by Martin R. Libbin, Deputy Director of the Legal Services Unit in the judicial branch’s Court Operations Division.  In that request, Attorney Libbin asks two questions: (1) whether, and if so to what extent, the revolving door provisions of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials (“Code”) apply to judicial branch employees; and if so, (2) whether a grievance counsel for a grievance panel, who was appointed and served under Practice Book § 2-30, may appear before the Statewide Grievance Committee within one year of leaving that position.

 

ANALYSIS

 

            The first question involves an issue of statutory interpretation.  When interpreting a statute, “[the] fundamental objective is to ascertain and give effect to the apparent intent of the legislature.”[1]  In seeking to determine the legislature’s intent, we must apply the plain meaning rule by considering “the text of the statute itself and its relationship to other statutes.  If, after examining such text and considering such relationship, the meaning of such text is plain and unambiguous and does not yield absurd or unworkable results, extra textual evidence of the meaning of the statute shall not be considered.”[2] 

 

            With these principles in mind, we look to the relevant language of the Code’s revolving door provisions:   

 

·        General Statutes § 1-84a: “No former executive or legislative branch or quasi-public agency public official or state employee shall disclose or use confidential information . . . .”[3]

 

·        General Statutes § 1-84b (a): “No former executive branch or quasi-public agency public official or state employee shall represent . . . .”[4]

 

·        General Statutes § 1-84b (b): “No former executive branch or quasi-public agency public official or state employee shall, for one year after leaving state service . . . .”[5]

 

·        General Statutes § 1-84b (c): “The provisions of this subsection apply to present or former executive branch public officials or state employees who hold or formerly held positions . . . .”[6]

 

·        General Statutes § 1-84b (f): “No former public official or state employee (1) who participated substantially in the negotiation . . . .”[7]

 

·        General Statutes § 1-84b (j): “No former executive, judicial or legislative branch or quasi-public agency official or state employee convicted . . . .”[8]

 

Thus, the terms “public official” and “state employee” in those provisions either are not modified at all (e.g., § 1-84b (f)) or are modified by some variation of the terms executive branch, judicial branch, legislative branch, and quasi-public agency. 

 

            The definitions of the terms “public official”[9] and “state employee”[10] include individuals from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches and from quasi-public agencies.  Thus, those Code provisions in which the terms “public official” and “state employee” are not modified by references to a specific branch of state government or a quasi-public agency apply to officials and employees in the legislative, executive and judicial branches, as well as those in quasi-public agencies.  The only revolving door provision in which the terms “public official” and “state employee” are not modified by any such terms, and thus includes judicial branch employees, is § 1-84b (f), which provides as follows:

 

No former public official or state employee (1) who participated substantially in the negotiation or award of (A) a state contract valued at an amount of fifty thousand dollars or more, or (B) a written agreement for the approval of a payroll deduction slot described in section 3-123g, or (2) who supervised the negotiation or award of such a contract or agreement, shall accept employment with a party to the contract or agreement other than the state for a period of one year after his resignation from his state office or position if his resignation occurs less than one year after the contract or agreement is signed.

 

            With respect to the remaining revolving door provisions, the terms “public official” and “state employee” are modified by some variation of the terms executive branch, legislative branch, judicial branch, or quasi-public agency.  The only such provision that includes the term judicial branch is § 1-84b (j), under which

 

[n]o former executive, judicial or legislative branch or quasi-public agency official or state employee convicted of any felony involving corrupt practices, abuse of office or breach of the public trust shall seek or accept employment as a lobbyist or act as a registrant pursuant to this chapter.

 

            Accordingly, we conclude that the only revolving door provisions in the Code that apply to judicial branch officials and employees are subsections (f) and (j) of § 1-84b.  To conclude otherwise would be to ignore the plain language of the statutory provisions, which is something we may not do.[11]

 

            Because subsections (f) and (j) of § 1-84b apply to former judicial branch employees, we proceed to answer the remaining question presented by Attorney Libbin, namely, whether a grievance counsel for a grievance panel, who was appointed and served pursuant to Practice Book § 2-30, may appear before the Statewide Grievance Committee within one year of leaving that position.  The provision that potentially would prohibit such activity is § 1-84b (b)[12]—not subsections (f) or (j) of § 1-84b—and because § 1-84b (b) does not apply to judicial branch employees, there is nothing in the Code that would prohibit the grievance counsel from appearing before the Statewide Grievance Committee within one year of leaving that position.

 

  

 

CONCLUSION

 

            It is the opinion of the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board (1) that the only revolving door provisions in the Code that apply to judicial branch officials and employees are subsections (f) and (j) of § 1-84b, and (2) that those provisions would not prohibit grievance counsel for a grievance panel, who was appointed and served pursuant to Practice Book § 2-30, from appearing before the Statewide Grievance Committee within one year of leaving that position.

 

                                                                                           By order of the Board

                                                                                                      

 

­­­­­­­­­­                                                                                             _______/s/__________

                                                                                              Robert N. Worgaftik

                                                                                              Chairperson

 

 

Dated­­­­­­­­­­: ___2/21/08____________

 



                [1](Internal quotation marks omitted)  Pizzuto v. Commissioner of Mental Retardation, 283 Conn. 257, 264, 927 A.2d 811 (2007).

                [2]General Statutes § 1-2z.

[3] (Emphasis added.)

[4] (Emphasis added.)

[5] (Emphasis added.)

[6] (Emphasis added.)

[7] (Emphasis added.)

[8] (Emphasis added.)

                [9]“‘Public official’ means any state-wide elected officer, any member or member-elect of the General Assembly, any person appointed to any office of the legislative, judicial or executive branch of state government by the Governor or an appointee of the Governor, with or without the advice and consent of the General Assembly, any public member or representative of the teachers' unions or state employees' unions appointed to the Investment Advisory Council pursuant to subsection (a) of section 3-13b, any person appointed or elected by the General Assembly or by any member of either house thereof, and any member or director of a quasi-public agency, but shall not include a member of an advisory board, a judge of any court either elected or appointed or a senator or representative in Congress.”  General Statutes § 1-79 (k).

                [10] “‘State employee’ means any employee in the executive, legislative or judicial branch of state government, whether in the classified or unclassified service and whether full or part-time, and any employee of a quasi-public agency, but shall not include a judge of any court, either elected or appointed.”  General Statutes § 1-79 (m).

                [11]See Evans v. Admin., Unemployment Comp., 135 Conn. 120, 124, 61 A.2d 684 (1948) ("[w]e are not at liberty to . . . indulge in the license of striking out and inserting, and remodeling, with the view of making the letter express an intent which the statute in its native form does not evidence" [internal quotation marks omitted]); Urbanowicz v. Planning & Zoning Commission, 87 Conn. App. 277, 289, 865 A.2d 474 (2005) (“we may not read into clearly expressed legislation provisions which do not find expression in its words” [internal quotation marks omitted]).

                [12]Section 1-84b (b) provides in relevant part as follows: “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.”  



Content Last Modified on 2/28/2008 2:55:27 PM