Membership on Non-Profit Boards Executive
Advisory Opinion 91-06-1023
Non Profit Bd.Mem/COI
ISSUE: WHETHER OR NOT KING COUNTY EXECUTIVE STAFF MEMBERSHIP ON BOARD OF NOT-FOR-PROFIT AGENCIES WHICH RECEIVE COUNTY FUNDING CONSTITUTES A CONFLICT OF INTEREST?
Opinion: Accordingly, the Board believes accepting membership on a Board does not constitute a conflict of interest if these conditions are met.
- The Board membership involves no compensation or other benefits as defined by Section 4 C.
- The individual must disclose their membership in the normal disclosure forms and to his or her immediate supervisor.
- The individual recuse himself or herself from any participation in any "county action" as defined by the Code which affects the funding of the organization of which the individual is a member of the Board.
In order to implement these conditions, the Board recommends that the Executive Office establish a reporting and notification procedure for all non-clerical employees of the Executive's staff who hold membership on Boards and Commissions.
Statement of Circumstances: A King County employee in the office of the County Executive has inquired whether Executive staff membership on not-for-profit Boards which receive County funding constitutes a conflict of interest.
Analysis: The Board recognizes, given the realities of communication in the Executive Office, that opportunities may arise for informal deliberation and influence to occur upon budgetary matters affecting non-profit institutions seeking funding. The board is extremely concerned that the real and apparent fairness of such deliberations be maintained. This would require that individuals not participate in any decisions which might affect the budget of the non-profit institution of which the employee was a board member.
Disclosure is mandated by the Code and is also crucial to make the non-participation an effective and livable provision. The Board believes any such affiliations must only be disclosed in the normal forms, but also to ensure that al individuals who know about possible conflicts of interest notify the appointing authority of the official who might be a member of such a Board. As indicated in Section 3.04.037 of the Code an employee has to notify his or her supervisor of a potential conflict.
Upon receipt of such notification, the Board concludes that the supervisor or authority shall take action to resolve the potential conflict of interest, including but not limited to designating within a reasonable time an alternative employee to perform the duty which is involved in the potential conflict. The disposition of the potential conflict shall be stated in writing in files maintained by the supervisor or official. The supervisor or official may request an advisory opinion from the Board of Ethics before disposing of such potential conflict.
Paragraph of 1 of Section 3.04.030 I applies to whether or not a position is compensated and is not curable by disclosure. The only means by which an employee can avoid conflicts pursuant to this Section, is to avoid involvement with the person as part of his or her official county duties.
Finally, pursuant to Section 3.04.030 C, the Board believes any such affiliation can only be allowed if it is not compensated in any way.
AUTHORITY RELIED UPON
Section 3.04.020 Just and equitable treatment.
B. Obligations to citizens. No county employee shall grant any special consideration, treatment or advantage beyond that which is available to every other citizen. Section 3.04.030 Conflict of Interest.
C. Except as authorized by law and in the course of his or her official duties, no county employee shall use the power or authority of his or her office or position with the county in a manner intended to induce or coerce any other person with any compensation, gift, or other thing of value directly or indirectly.
Section 3.04.037 Duty to notify supervisor. Any employee who becomes aware that he or she may have a potential conflict of interest which arises in the course of his or her official duties shall notify in writing his or her supervisor or appointing authority of such potential conflict.
H. Is an employee, agent, officer, partner, director or consultant of any person doing or seeking to do business with the county, unless such relationship has been disclosed as provided by this chapter;
I. Engages in or accepts compensation, employment or renders services for any person or a governmental entity other than King County when such employment or service is incompatible with the proper discharge of official duties or would impair independence of judgment or action in the performance of official duties.
Upon receipt of such notification the supervisor or authority shall take action to resolve the potential conflict of interest, including but not limited to designating within a reasonable time an alternative employee to perform the duty which is involved in the potential conflict. The disposition of the potential conflict shall be stated in writing in files maintained by the supervisor or official. The supervisor or official may request an advisory opinion from the board of ethics before disposing of such potential conflict. (Ord. 9704 S 8, 1990).
ISSUED ON THE _________________ day of ________________, 1991.
Signed for the Board: Dr. J. Patrick Dobel, Chair
Timothy Edwards, Esq.
King County Councilmembers
Rella Foley, Ombudsman, Office of Citizen Complaints
Bob Stier, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
Veda Jellen, Administrative Assistant, King County Executive Staff