Advisory Opinion No. 2000-82

Re: Norman L. Landroche, Jr.

QUESTION PRESENTED

The petitioner, a West Warwick firefighter, a municipal employee position, who also is an attorney, requests an advisory opinion as to whether any conflicts of interest would arise in the event he is appointed as the West Warwick School Committee’s legal counsel.

RESPONSE

It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the petitioner’s potential appointment as legal counsel to the West Warwick School Committee does not create an inherent conflict of interest under the Code of Ethics given his status as a West Warwick firefighter, a municipal employee position.

Sections 5(a) and 5(d) of the Code of Ethics do not create an absolute bar to simultaneous service as legal counsel to a School Committee and as a firefighter in the same municipality. Rather, those provisions require a matter by matter evaluation and determination as to whether substantial conflicts of interest exist with respect to carrying out an official or employee's duty in the public interest. However, it is not likely that the petitioner's involvement with the School Committee would impact on his responsibilities with the Fire Department, and vice versa, given the different spheres of responsibilities that fall to the respective agencies. In the event that such matters would arise, the petitioner is required to recuse from participation and complete a statement of conflict of interest in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-6.

Finally, the petitioner is advised that this opinion solely addresses whether the Code of Ethics prohibits him, as a municipal employee, from seeking or accepting appointment as the School Committee’s legal counsel. This opinion does not, and could not, address whether any other statutes or ordinances prohibit such simultaneous service. The Ethics Commission does not exercise jurisdiction over those statutes or ordinances and therefore is not empowered to issue advisory opinions addressing or interpreting their effect.

Code Citations:

36-14-5(a)
36-14-5(d)
36-14-6

Related Advisory Opinions:

2000-56
99-149
99-89
97-127
97-23
95-62
95-38
93-13
90-11

Keywords:

Candidate
Dual public roles