Ethics and Elections Commission Wayne Barnett, Executive Director
About Us|Contact Us
Ethics Elections Elections Lobbying Whistleblower Commission

Ethics Home
Ethics Code
Advisory Opinions
Frequently Asked Questions
- Definitions
- Advice, Getting
- Advisory Boards
- Appearances
- Complaint Procedures
- Confidential Information
- Contractor and Client Information
- Covered Contractors and Vendors
- Family Members
- Financial Interests
- Former City Employees & Officials
- Former Employers and Clients
- Gifts
- Penalties
- Employee Political Activity
- Position, Use of
- Resources, Use of
- Soliciting for Charities
- Supervision

Financial Interests

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes our responsibilities collide with our interests away from work. The July, 2009 amendments to the Ethics Code expanded and clarified the list of financial interests that would require a Covered Individual to disqualify him or herself from participating in City matters.

A Covered Individual may not participate in a matter in which any of the following have a financial interest:

  1. the Covered Individual;
  2. an immediate family member of the Covered Individual;
  3. an individual residing with the Covered Individual;
  4. a person the Covered Individual serves as an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee;
  5. a person with which the Covered Individual is seeking or has an arrangement concerning future employment.

There are several definitions that will help you understand the provisions regarding financial interests. Here are some situations to consider:

  1. Can I serve on a hiring panel if one of the applicants is a casual friend who once worked for me at my former job?

    Answer: Generally, yes. A former supervisory relationship or a friendship does not automatically require you to disqualify yourself from serving on a hiring panel or from taking part in other City actions. In some cases, a former supervisory relationship can help the City better evaluate a potential employee. You should disclose the relationship to your fellow panelists.

    However, if the closeness of your friendship, or activities or transactions you've had with the individual, would cause a reasonable person to question your fairness or impatiality, you must disclose the circumstances in writing prior to taking part in the panel. Submit this disclosure form to your department head and the SEEC Executive Director. If they either approve or do not within a week of the disclosure disqualify you from the duties, then you may proceed without being in violation of the Code.

    Remember, you must disqualify yourself from participating on a selection panel if anyone in the list at the start of this section has a financial interest in the job or contract, or if the candidate was your former client or employer within the past year. (There is a narrow exception for dealing with past employers and past clients, so get in touch with us if that's your situation.)

  2. My housemate owns a plumbing business and my City job is to inspect work done by plumbing companies. Can I inspect the work done by my housemate's business?

    Answer: No. Employees may not take part in City matters in which someone in their household has a financial interest.

  3. Can City employees serve on the boards of non-profit organizations that receive City funding?

    Answer: Generally, yes. Employees are encouraged to be active with non-profits. However, when the employees' duties overlap with their volunteer activities, they may need to disqualify themselves from official actions.

    Employees cannot participate on any level in a City matter in which an organization they serve as an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee has a financial interest. If a family member, close friend, or someone in your household holds such a position with the non-profit, the employee must disclose the facts to the department head and the SEEC Executive Director before acting on the matter.

For more assistance, contact SEEC staff.

Last updated April 13, 2011.

Ethics and Elections Home | About Us | Contact Us | Commission | Ethics | Elections | Lobbying | Whistleblower