Filing Number: 93-02
Subject: Business Solicitation
Keywords: appearance of impropriety, business, conflict, county grant, disclosure, employee, financial interests, impropriety, outside employment, private business, program, representation, solicitation, unwarranted privilege
Decision By: L. Susan Faw, Ethics Commission Counsel
Contact Email: admin@nccethics.org
 
Status: Active

Question:

           Whether a County employee whose job function includes deciding whether certain persons qualify for participation in a County administered program may solicit the business of those persons on behalf of his part-time employer.

Conclusion:

           No. Such conduct would create a conflict of interest, in violation of Section 2-30.2.(a) of the New Castle County Code of Ethics ("Ethics Code").

Facts:

          As part of his job function, a County employee decides whether certain persons qualify for participation in a County administered program to which financial benefits attach.1
 
          This County employee is also employed part-time. On behalf of his part-time employer, this County employee proposes to solicit business from those persons who participate or seek to participate in the very County program, qualification for which is decided by this County employee.

Analysis:

           Section 2-30.2. (a) provides: "County officials and county employees shall not engage in conduct that constitutes a conflict of interest." "Conflict of interest" is defined as:
 
Use by a county official or county employee of the authority of his office or employment or any confidential information received through his holding county office or employment for the private pecuniary benefit of himself, a member of his immediate family or a business with which he is associated. (Emphasis added.)2
 
"A business with which he is associated" includes any business by which the employee or official is employed,3 and thus would include this County employee's part-time employer.

Finding:

          The solicitation of business by this County employee on behalf of his part-time employer of persons who qualify or seek to qualify for participation in a County administered program, - a determination in which this very County employee is directly involved, - would create a serious conflict of interest. Such conduct would constitute the use by a County employee of the authority of his employment for the private pecuniary gain of his part-time employer, in violation of Section 2-30.2.(a) of the Ethics Code.
____________________________
L. Susan Faw, Ethics Counsel
 
February 5, 1993

Footnotes:

1 This employee qualifies as a "county employee" whose conduct is governed by the Ethics Code. See Sec. 2-30.1. Definitions.
 
2 See Sec. 2-30.1. Definitions.
 
3 See Awx. 2.30.1. Definitions.