Advisory Opinion No. 99-74

Re: Patricia A. Iannelli

QUESTION PRESENTED

The petitioner, the Confidential Secretary to the Lincoln Superintendent of Schools, a municipal employee position, who also is a candidate for the Lincoln School Committee, a municipal elected position, requests an advisory opinion as to whether she may continue to serve in her present capacity until she either is elected to the School Committee or officially begins her term of office.

RESPONSE

It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the petitioner, the Confidential Secretary to the Lincoln Superintendent of Schools, a municipal employee position, who also is a candidate for the Lincoln School Committee, a municipal elected position, may continue to serve in her present capacity until, if elected, she officially begins her term of office on the School Committee.

The Code of Ethics does not create a blanket prohibition against municipal employees running for elective office, whether at the state or municipal level. The law does provide, however, that persons subject to the Code may not use their public positions for private gain or financial advantage and may not participate in public decisions when their independence of judgment has been impaired because of a private interest. See R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 36-14-5(a),(b) and (d). The fact that the petitioner may campaign for the office of School Committee while simultaneously serving as the Confidential Secretary to the Superintendent of Schools does not, in and of itself, present an inherent conflict of interest under the Code of Ethics. Accordingly, if elected, she may continue to serve in her present capacity until she takes office.

Code Citations:

36-14-5(a)
36-14-5(b)
36-14-5(d)

Related Advisory Opinions:

98-118
97-127
97-120
95-72
95-44
95-15
93-86

Keywords:

Candidate
Political Activity