Advisory Opinion No. 97-1

Re: Mohamed J. Freij


The petitioner, an Engineer with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management ("DEM"), a state employee, requests an advisory opinion as to whether he may submit materials for approval to a Division of DEM where he will work until January 1997, and what restrictions attach to his making submissions to the ISDS given that he will continue to work in the DEM, albeit in a different division.


It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the petitioner, an Engineer with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, a state employee, should not submit material for approval before the Division, ISDS, at which he will be employed through January, 1997, as part of his private employment as a surveyor. The prohibition stands while the petitioner is employed in the ISDS and for one year thereafter. ISDS is the division that issues septic system permits. The prohibition extends to any co-workers and/or contractors working on behalf of his company unless some procedure or mechanism can be devised to insulate the petitioner's public duties from the company's private endeavors. Such recusal will ensure that he will not use his public office or confidential information received through his public employment to obtain financial gain. After one year from the termination of his employment in the ISDS, however, the petitioner may submit such material to that division which may include routine follow-ups to these submissions. However, the petitioner may not have any personal involvement with a matter before the ISDS Division of the DEM that goes beyond ministerial activities (e.g. hand delivering documents to or reviewing files at the division) so as to constitute "representing another person" nor serve as an expert witness before the expiration of one year from the date of his official severance from the DEM. R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(e). Additionally, the petitioner may not use any confidential information he obtained while working for the ISDS Division for financial gain. R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(b), (c), (d).

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