Advisory Opinion No. 2000-55

Re: Manuel Gorriaran

QUESTION PRESENTED

The petitioner, a Heritage Subcommittee member of the Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, a state appointed position, requests an advisory opinion as to whether he is required to file an annual Financial Disclosure Statement with the Ethics Commission.

RESPONSE

It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the Code of Ethics requires the petitioner, a Heritage Subcommittee member of the Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, a state appointed position, to file an annual financial disclosure statement with the Ethics Commission pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-16.

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 and/or receive no compensation for their public service. The General Assembly, by statute, 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 Governor appointed the petitioner to the Heritage Subcommittee in 1994. Therefore, he 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. The petitioner has advised that the Heritage Subcommittee has not held a meeting in approximately three years. Under the existing statutory scheme the failure of the subcommittee to meet is irrelevant. Unless and until formal action is taken to disband the Heritage Subcommittee, the petitioner is an appointed official within the meaning of the statute and, therefore, is required to file annual financial statements with the Ethics Commission.

Code Citations:

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

Related Advisory Opinions:

2000-44
2000-36
2000-31
99-112
99-87
99-66
97-69
97-68
97-60

Keywords:

Financial disclosure