Advisory Opinion No. 99-143

Re: Kenneth Bianchi

QUESTION PRESENTED

The petitioner, the North Smithfield Town Administrator, a municipal elected position, requests an advisory opinion regarding whether he may accept proceeds from a tribute in his honor given that he will not exercise any supervisory authority over certain people or matters.

RESPONSE

It is the opinion of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission that the petitioner, the North Smithfield Town Administrator, a municipal elected position, may accept proceeds from a tribute in his honor.

The Code of Ethics provides that a public official may not have any interest which is in a substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties or employment in the public interest. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(a). Commission Regulation 5011 prohibits individuals subject to the Code from soliciting contributions, either directly or through a surrogate, from a subordinate over whom he or she exercises supervisory responsibilities in the course of his or her official duties.

The petitioner represents that he has a personal illness and that his term as Town Administrator expires on December 1, 1999. A group of close friends and municipal appointed and elected officials in North Smithfield formed a committee to organize an affair known as a “Tribute to Ken” which is scheduled to be held on November 16, 1999 at Wright’s Farm. Tickets are sold at $20.00 per ticket. The net proceeds will be used by the petitioner in connection with medical expenses. Additionally, the petitioner represents that he will not exercise any supervisory authority over any members of the committee or exercise any action with regard to those persons. Nor will he appoint any officials or award any contracts with the Town during his remaining tenure.

Given that the petitioner represents he will not take action with regard to the members of the committee, the Commission concludes that the Code of Ethics does not prohibit the petitioner from accepting the net proceeds from the above referenced event. This advisory opinion is consistent with previous advisory opinions whereby a public official may solicit contributions provided he recuses from actions over those persons over whom he has supervision. See A.O. 98-144.

Code Citations:

36-14-5(a)
36-14-5011

Related Advisory Opinions:

98-144

Keywords:

Gifts
Transactions with Subordinates