Advisory Opinion No. 96-79

Re: Edward L. Murphy


Whether a municipal elected member of the Board of Canvassers can be appointed to serve as Clerk for the Board of Canvassers.


The Code of Ethics provides that a public official shall not have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or employment which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest. R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(a). Additionally, R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(e) prohibits public officials from appearing before his or her Board before the expiration of one year after the public official has officially severed his or her position with the Board. Also, Commission Regulation §36-14-5006 provides that a public official may not accept any appointment by the body of which he or she is a member, to any position which carries with it any financial benefit or remuneration, until the expiration of one year after termination of his or her membership on such body, unless the Ethics Commission shall give its approval for such appointment and that such approval shall not be granted unless the Ethics Commission is satisfied that denial of such employment or position would create a substantial hardship for the body.

In this matter, the Warwick Board of Canvassers compensates its Clerk. Therefore, a sitting member of the Board or former member who has not yet met the one year limitation, may not be appointed to serve as Clerk for the Board of Canvassers unless and until this Commission finds that the Board has provided a showing of substantial hardship. See A.O. 91-53 (Water Supply Board member cannot simultaneously serve as a paid employee of the Water Supply Board); A.O. 94-37 (Cumberland Hill Fire District Commissioner could not also be employed as tax collector).

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