Advisory Opinion No. 2006-24

Advisory Opinion No. 2006-24

Re:  Doris M. De Los Santos


The petitioner, an employee of DataLogics Consulting who provides services to the Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission as a contractor, and also a potential candidate for state office, requests an advisory opinion as to whether she may run for and serve in the Rhode Island House of Representatives or Senate, state elected positions.


It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the Code of Ethics does not prohibit the petitioner, an employee of DataLogics Consulting who provides services as a contractor to the Housing Resources Commission, from seeking elective office for the General Assembly while a contractor or employee of a state agency.  However, the petitioner, if elected to public office, is cautioned and advised that in the event matters come before her that directly affect her or her employer, she should recuse herself from participation in accordance with Section 6 of the Code of Ethics, by filing a recusal statement and sending a copy to the Ethics Commission.

As an initial matter, the petitioner is not currently a state employee but employed by a vendor who provides services to the Housing Resources Commission.  The petitioner advises, however, that she may be hired by the state as a state employee in the near future.  Although the petitioner is not subject to the Code of Ethics at this time, we will address this issue as it has been raised numerous times by other state employees and contractors and the likelihood of repetition during the upcoming election cycle is anticipated.

Sections 5(a) and 5(d) of the Code of Ethics do not create an absolute bar to simultaneous service as a state employee or contractor and a General Assembly member.  See R.I. Gen Laws § 36-14-5(a), 5(d).  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's or employee's duty in the public interest.  In sum, while simultaneous service in the positions is not barred by the Code of Ethics, the relevant statute and regulations would require that the petitioner be particularly vigilant as to the matters in which she participated.  Furthermore, we caution the petitioner that Regulation 5007 would prohibit her, if elected to the General Assembly, from thereafter seeking or accepting state employment as an employee or consultant (other than the position that she holds at the time of election), while she is a member of the General Assembly and for a period of one year after leaving legislative office.

Finally, the petitioner is advised that this opinion solely addresses whether the Code of Ethics prohibits her from seeking or holding office as a General Assembly member.  We note that this opinion does not address whether any other statutes, rulings, regulations or policies, prohibits such simultaneous service.  Such matters are outside the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission and, as a result, cannot be addressed in this advisory opinion.

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Related Advisory Opinions:






Dual public roles