Advisory Opinion No. 99-48

Re: Brian Desmarais

QUESTION PRESENTED

The petitioner, a Cumberland Town Councilor, a municipal elected position, requests an advisory opinion as to whether he may vote on the appointment of his uncle to a position in the Town.

RESPONSE

It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the petitioner, a Cumberland Town Councilor, a municipal elected position, may not vote on the appointment of his uncle to a position in the Town since his uncle is a “family member” of his, as that term is defined in the Code of Ethics.

Under the Code of Ethics, the petitioner, as a Cumberland Town Councilor, may not participate in any matter in which he or a member of his family has an interest, financial or otherwise, 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), 36-14-7(a). An official will have an interest in substantial conflict with his official duties if he/she has a reason to believe or expect 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, a business associate, an employer, or any business which the public official represents. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-7(a). Commission Regulation 35-14-5005 extends the prohibitions set forth in R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5 to uncles, whether by blood, marriage or adoption.

Given the relevant provisions of the Code of Ethics, it is clear that the Code of Ethics prohibits the petitioner from appointing his uncle where his uncle would likely receive a financial benefit from the appointment.

Code Citations:

36-14-5(a)
36-14-5(d)
56-14-7(a)
36-14-5005

Related Advisory Opinions:

99-34
98-115
97-140
97-49
97-36
97-6
96-110
95-46
94-44
94-22

Keywords:

Family: Public Employment
Nepotism