Advisory Opinion No. 97-6

Re: A. Ralph Mollis, Mayor


The Petitioner, the Mayor of North Providence, a municipal elected official, requests an advisory opinion as to whether he may appoint, pursuant to his authority as the appointing authority under the Town Charter, his first cousin, Ernest J. Carlucci, as the Director of Personnel, a salaried position of $35,963.52 a year.


It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the Petitioner, the Mayor of North Providence, a municipal elected official, may not appoint his cousin as Director of Personnel. The Code of Ethics prohibits public officials from taking any official action that is likely to have a direct financial or monetary impact on, among others, a family member or from having an interest which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest. See R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 36-14-5(a), 36-14-5(d) and 36-14-7(a). A substantial conflict of interest occurs if the Petitioner has reason to believe or expect that a family member will derive a direct monetary gain by reason of his official activity. See R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 36-14-5(a), 36-14-7(a). Commission Regulation 35-14-5005 extends the prohibitions set forth in R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5 (with the exception of § 5(h)) to first cousins, whether by blood, marriage or adoption.

Here, the Petitioner, the Mayor of North Providence, seeks guidance as to whether he may appoint his first cousin as the Director of Personnel. In General Commission Advisory Opinion No. 1, which addressed nepotism concerns, the Commission specifically recognized that a person subject to the Code could not hire a family member given the family member's financial interest. Given this pronouncement and the relevant provisions of the Code of Ethics, it is clear that the Code of Ethics prohibits the Mayor from appointing his cousin where his cousin would likely receive a financial benefit from the appointment. See also A.O. 96-110.

Code Citations:


Related Advisory Opinions:



family: financial benefit
family: public employment