Wednesday, November 29, 2006
City May Give Money to Local Chamber of Commerce Whose President Serves on Council—Lockyer
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A city may donate public funds to a local chamber of commerce, of which a council member serves as president and which employs the council member’s wife, as long as certain ethical requirements are complied with, Attorney General Bill Lockyer has opined.
In a formal opinion issued last week at the request of Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, the attorney general said that such a donation would be legal if the member publicly discloses his interest and does not participate in the decision to donate the funds.
Lockyer concluded that such a grant constitutes a “contract” for purposes of Government Code Sec. 1090, which prohibits a public official from being “financially interested” in a contract entered into by that person in an official capacity, or by the body on which he or she serves.
The attorney general pointed out, however, that the Legislature has partially exempted “remote interests” from the scope of the statute. Under Sec. 1091(b)(1), he explained, an official’s service as an officer or employee of a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization is considered too remote to constitute a disqualifying interest if the interest is disclosed and the official does not participate in the making of the contract.
This means, Lockyer elaborated, that the official not only may not debate or vote on the arrangement, but may not participate in preliminary discussions, negotiations, lobbying, or planning.
The opinion, No. 06-507, was prepared for Lockyer by Deputy Attorney General Daniel G. Stone.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company