Advisory Opinion No. 99-60

Re: Thomas V. Iannitti

QUESTION PRESENTED

The petitioner, a member of Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority’s Board of Directors, a state appointed position, requests an advisory opinion as to whether he may seek employment with the Authority as its Executive Director.

RESPONSE

It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the petitioner, a member of the Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority’s Board of Directors, a state appointed position, may not seek employment with the Authority for a period of one year following the termination of his membership on the Authority’s Board of Directors.

The Code of Ethics provides that, for a period of one year after a person has officially terminated his or her position with any state or municipal agency, that person shall not appear before the state or municipal agency on which the person had served. R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 36-14-5(e)(1) and 5(e)(4). Pursuant to Commission Regulation 5006, no elected or appointed official may accept any appointment by the body of which he or she is a member, to any position which carries with it any financial benefit or remuneration while a member of the body and for a period of one year after termination of membership on said body, unless the Ethics Commission shall give its approval of such appointment. Regulation 5006 further provides that the Commission shall not grant such approval unless it “is satisfied that denial of such employment or position would create a substantial hardship for the body, board, or municipality.”

The Commission has concluded that a public official may not accept employment from the body which he or she serves, for a period of one year following termination of the official’s membership on said body. See A.O. 97-26; A.O. 97-17; and A.O. 96-85. However, the Commission has permitted an official to accept such an appointment within that period, provided that the appointment was to a volunteer position or the official agreed to waive the receipt of compensation and benefits and serve in a volunteer capacity. See A.O. 97-138 (finding that a Pawtucket City Councilor could accept appointment from the City Council to a board within that municipality within one year of his official severance from his position as Councilor provided that he serves in such position as an unpaid volunteer); and A.O. 96-35 (advising a North Kingstown School Committee member that he could accept appointment as a volunteer baseball coach for the School Department since he would serve without compensation).

In an analogous advisory opinion, the Commission found that the Code prohibited a former Middletown School Committee member from applying or interviewing for, or being appointed to, the position of Superintendent of the Middletown Schools during the one-year period following her resignation from the School Committee. See A.O. 96-85. Similarly, the Commission here concludes that the petitioner may not seek employment with the Bridge and Turnpike Authority. Section 5(e) of the Code prohibits him from applying and/or interviewing for the position of Executive Director for a period of one year following his official severance from his position on the Authority’s Board of Directors. Without a showing of hardship, the petitioner may not accept appointment from his own Board to a position which carries with it remuneration of any kind nor may he appear before the Board during that time as provided in R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 36-14-5(e) and Commission Regulation 5006.

Code Citations:

36-14-5(e)
36-14-5006

Related Advisory Opinions:

99-2
98-153
98-104
98-83
97-117
97-27
97-26
97-17
96-102
96-85
96-82
96-80
96-79
96-35
94-37

Keywords:

Prospective Employment
Revolving Door