Advisory Opinion No. 96-32

Re: Sara Bradford

Question Presented

A member of the Capitol Center Design Review Commission, which Commission has the responsibility for reviewing plans relating to the Providence Place Mall requests an advisory opinion as to whether and to what extent the Code of Ethics imposes restrictions on his official actions, given that (1) the member's spouse may provide cost estimating services for an engineering consultant to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and (2) RIDOT intends to use the estimates to evaluate options for funding certain portions of the site work for the proposed Mall.


The Code of Ethics prohibits public officials and employees from taking any official actions that are likely to have a direct financial or monetary impact on, among others, a family member or business asssociate. (See R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-7(a) and 5(d)) Here, one spouse has certain official responsibilities regarding the Providence Place Mall project as a member of the Capitol Center Design Review Commission while the other spouse may provide private services relating to the project as a subcontracter to the R.I. Department of Transportation. The mere providing of those services by the spouse working in the private sector is not prohibited by the Code of Ethics. The Code does restrict the spouse who is the member of the Commission from participating in any consideration or votes as to whether to engage the services of his spouse and prohibits him from taking any official action, such as reviewing or approving the results of such services, with respect to the work provided by his spouse. In such instances the member of the Commission should exercise the notice and recusal provisions of R.I. Gen. Laws 36-14-6.

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family:private employment