Summary of Advisory Opinion 2017-1

Summary of Advisory Opinion 2017-1

Request of Mobilitie LLC.; decided by the Board of Ethics 9/28/17

Issue

Whether the County may enter into a contract with a company who has hired an individual who was employed by DeKalb County within the preceding two years.

Conclusion

The County is not precluded from contracting with or taking any official act or action favorably affecting a business which hires an individual separated from the County within the past two years if that individual is not performing work directly related to any County business and is not representing the interests of the business to any official or employee of the County.

Discussion

Subsection (e)(3) of the Ethics Code prohibits DeKalb County from entering into contracts with companies “represented” by an individual who was employed by the County within the preceding two years.  The Ethics code  prohibits the County from entering into a contract with a company which has hired a recently separated County employee for the purpose of “representing” the company in its business before the County.    Meaning, the County cannot contract with a company whose purpose in hiring the former employee was to benefit from the relationships and influence of the employee in gaining business for the company.

 

Simply hiring a DeKalb County employee without other evidence of a conflict of interest should not preclude the County from doing business with the company who hired the former employee.  For example, the County should not be precluded from purchasing equipment from a large computer manufacturer simply because a former DeKalb employee was hired by the computer company to develop software.  However, if a former employee was hired by the same computer company as a sales representative with responsibility for DeKalb County government, clearly the employee was hired to “represent” the company before the County in order to use that employees influence in conducting sales.   Such a relationship would present a conflict of interest.