Advisory Opinion No. 2000-31

Re: Victor D. Antoniello

QUESTION PRESENTED

The petitioner, a Burrillville High School Building Committee member, a municipal appointed position, requests an advisory opinion as to whether 1) he is required to file a Financial Statement given that he is not compensated for his service; and 2) he is required to file a 1998 Financial Statement given that he was appointed to his position in July of 1999.

RESPONSE

It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the Code of Ethics requires the petitioner, a Burrillville High School Building Committee member, a municipal appointed position, to file Financial Disclosure Statements pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-16, including a 1998 Financial Statement upon his appointment to that position.

The Code of Ethics requires all state and municipal elected and appointed officials to file annual financial statements with the Ethics Commission. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-16.

Members of many Commissions serve as volunteers or are not compensated for their public service; however, the General Assembly has deemed that if an official is appointed by the highest governing body of the state or municipality or for a term of office and exercises governmental functions other than in an advisory nature, the public official is required to file a personal financial statement pursuant to the Code of Ethics. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-2(9). Here, the petitioner received his appointment from the Town Council. Therefore, the petitioner is a “state or municipal appointed official” within the meaning of R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-4 or § 36-14-16, and is required to file a financial disclosure statement.

Further, “in the case of [an] appointment… the appointee shall file the financial statement within thirty (30) days after the date his appointment.” R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-16(b). Since a financial statement covers activity for a particular calendar year, forms that are filed in 1999 will cover the 1998 calendar year (except as relating to questions 14-15 covering the part of 1999 that has already passed by). In this respect, the financial disclosure forms are much like the tax forms filed with the IRS. If appointees were to wait until the following year to file a disclosure statement, the public would not be informed as to the particular areas where conflicts of interests may arise during their initial period of appointment. Therefore, the petitioner should complete FS98-2 immediately and send it to the Ethics Commission.

Code Citations:

36-14-2(9)
36-14-4
36-14-16

Related Advisory Opinions:

99-112
99-87
99-66
97-69
97-68
97-60

Keywords:

Financial disclosure