Advisory Opinion No. 97-43

Re: Mary V. Cabral


Whether the Petitioner may simultaneously serve as the Chair of the Bristol Recreation Board, a municipal appointed position, and a member of the Bristol/Warren Regional School Committee, a municipal elected position.


Under the Code of Ethics, the Petitioner, as a member of the Recreation Board or the Regional School Committee, may not participate in any matter in which she has an interest, financial or otherwise, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of her duties in the public interest. See R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 36-14-5(a), 36-14-7(a). (An official will have an interest in substantial conflict with his or her official duties if it is likely that a "direct monetary gain" or a "direct monetary loss" will accrue, by virtue of the public official's activity, to the official, a family member, or a business associate. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-7(a). The Code of Ethics also prohibits the Petitioner from using her public position or confidential information received through her position to obtain financial gain, other than that provided by law, for herself, a family member, or business associate. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(d). Additionally, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(b), the Petitioner may not accept other employment which would impair her independence of judgement or require her to disclose confidential information acquired in the course of her official duties.

After considering the relevant provisions of the Code, it is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Committee that the Code of Ethics does not prohibit the Petitioner from simultaneously serving on the Bristol Recreation Board and the Bristol/Warren Regional School Committee. This opinion is based on the Petitioner's representation that her positions on the Board and the Regional School Committee do not conflict since the School Committee does not control or interact in any significant way with the Recreation Board, nor does one entity exercise fiscal or jurisdictional control over the other. The Petitioner, however, is cautioned and advised that in the event her duality of status impairs her independence of judgment or requires her to disclose confidential information, she should (a) notify the appropriate municipal agency in writing of the nature of the interest or conflict; and, if necessary, b) refrain from participating in any related matter.

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dual public roles