ADVISORY OPINION NO. 91-EC-006
Issued June 25, 1991
Mr. Bobby Tullis
P. O. Box 250945
Little Rock, AR 72225
Dear Mr. Tullis:
On June 21, 1991, this office received your request for an official opinion, under authority of Initiated Act 1 of 1988 (as amended) and Initiated Act 1 of 1990. Your question, which deals with possible conflicts of interest between one's duty as a legislator and his employment by a major corporation is as follows:
"If an elected official or legislator is hired as a contract employee (non-lobbying) of a corporation, what must he do to be in compliance with Arkansas' campaign and conflict of interest laws?"
Your question has been answered, in large part, by two opinions issued by the Arkansas Attorney General pursuant to authority of Initiated Act 1 of 1988 (as amended) on May 11, 1989, and September 12, 1989. This Commission adopts the conclusions reached in these opinions Nos. 89-E-19 and 89-E-31, which have been attached to this opinion.
The Attorney General's opinions deal specifically with conflict of interest, the first opining that Initiated Act 1 of 1988 does not dictate that a legislator with a potential conflict must abstain from voting on measures affecting his or her financial interest. That opinion then details the steps a legislator dictated by law has to take when he or she has a potential conflict of interest. The latter opinion deals specifically with the Statement of Potential Conflict of Interest, required under ACA Section 21-8-803, when a legislator is required to take an official action which might affect his financial interest. That opinion concludes that the filing of the form must depend upon the individual circumstances of the particular legislator and the specific measure presented.
In addition, to fully respond to your request, ACA Section 21-8-701 states:
(a) The following person shall file a written statement of financial interest:
(1) A public official, as defined in subchapter 4 of this chapter
(c) The statement of financial interest shall be filed by January 31 of each year... The statement of financial interest shall include the following:
(2) Identification of each employer and of each other source of income amounting to more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) annually received by the person or his or her spouse in their own names, or by any other person for the use or benefit of the public servant or his or her spouse, and a brief description of the nature of the services for which the compensation was received, except that this paragraph shall not be construed to require the disclosure of individual items of income that constitute a portion of the gross income of the business or profession from which the public servant or his or her spouse derives income; and in addition thereto, shall identify each source of income as described above of more than twelve thousand five hundred dollars ($12,500) except that this shall not be construed to require the disclosure of individual items of income that constitute a portion of the gross income of the business or profession from which the public servant or his or her spouse derives income; (3) The name of every business in which the public servant and his or her spouse, or any other person for the use or benefit of the public servant or his or her spouse, have an investment or holdings of over one thousand dollars ($1,000) at fair market value as of the date of the statement, and in addition thereto, shall identify each source as described above which has a fair market value of over twelve thousand five hundred dollars ($12,500) on the date of the statement;
It would appear then, and it is my opinion that a legislator employed by a corporation must report that fact on his Statement of Financial Interest, and should a potential conflict arise as to any measure before the legislature, he must file a Statement of Potential Conflict of Interest. And finally, if it appears to the legislator that there is an actual conflict between the measure before the legislature and his or her financial interest, he or she should abstain from voting.
Jack R. Kearney