Advisory Opinion No. 99-20

Re: Michael T. Napolitano, Esq.

QUESTION PRESENTED

The petitioner, a Cranston Municipal Court Judge, a municipal appointed position, requests an advisory opinion as to whether he may host what he describes as “an annual Fish Dinner” and invite family, close friends, and clients of his law practice if all guests purchase tickets and he does not profit from the event.

RESPONSE

It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the Code of Ethics does not prohibit the petitioner, a Cranston Municipal Court Judge, a municipal appointed position, from inviting family, close friends, and clients of his law practice to “an annual Fish Dinner” provided that such individuals are not his subordinates at the Court. Here, the Petitioner represents that all invited guests, i.e., members of his family, close friends, and clients of his law firm, will purchase a ticket for the cost of the meal, $30. The Code of Ethics does not bar public officials from participating in such affairs, whether they are formal or informal. Under Commission Regulation 5011, Transactions with Subordinates, however, the Petitioner may not engage in a financial transaction with his subordinates unless it is initiated by the subordinate, part of a regular commercial business or occupation, or a charitable or fundraising event under the general sponsorship of a municipality. Since guests must purchase tickets, the Petitioner may not solicit the purchase of tickets by anyone working under his supervision at the Court.

Code Citations:

36-14-5001

Related Advisory Opinions:

98-161
98-144
98-125

Keywords:

Solicitation
Transactions with subordinates