Advisory Opinion No. 99-43

Re: Kenneth W. Mott

QUESTION PRESENTED

The petitioner, a Hopkinton Town Councilor, a municipal elected position, requests an advisory opinion as to whether he may vote on Chariho Regional School District matters if he continues to be on the District’s fill-in list.

RESPONSE

It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the petitioner, a Hopkinton Town Councilor, a municipal elected position, may vote on Chariho Regional School District matters given that the particular nature of his "employment" with the school district is, at best, sporadic and limited. Under the Code of Ethics, the petitioner may not participate in matters where he has a reason to believe or expect that his employer, among others, would receive a financial benefit or suffer a monetary loss by reason of his official activity as a Town Councilor. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(a), 7(a). The petitioner advises that he is a participant in the part-time fill-in program in the Chariho School System. In past years he has been called four or five times per year. In the current year he has not been called at all. When called, he is paid an hourly wage.

The Code of Ethics defines state or municipal “employees” as individuals receiving a salary from a state or municipal agency on a full-time or part-time basis. See Commission Regulation 2002(3)(a). Here, the petitioner's possible employment with the school system is neither permanent nor regular. Therefore, it does not constitute employment under the Code of Ethics. As a result, by remaining on the fill-in list the petitioner is not precluded from participating in matters relating to the school district. He may not, however, take any action as a member of the Town Council that would affect his status on the list or otherwise directly affect his financial interests as a fill-in.

Code Citations:

36-14-2002(3)(a)
36-14-5(a)
36-14-7(a)

Related Advisory Opinions:

98-165

Keywords:

Code jurisdiction
Dual public roles