Summary of Advisory Opinion 8

Facts

Donald J. Broussard is a Commissioner with the DeKalb County Planning Commission (Commission). The Commission, among other duties, is given responsibility to pass upon litigation concerning development sketch plans for property in DeKalb County.

The Legacy Investment Group, LLC (Legacy) is a Registered Investment Advising company. Legacy submitted a development sketch plan to the Planning Commission which would be judged, among other competitors’ plans, by the Commission’s Board.

Legacy alleges that after the Commission’s November 10, 2004 meeting, while Legacy’s sketch plan remained pending in litigation before the Commission, Mr. Broussard spoke and offered advice to opponents of Legacy’s development sketch plan outside of the Commission meeting.  Legacy alleges that these communications by Mr. Broussard were to opponents of the Legacy plan and that the communications had the appearance of expressing opposition to Legacy’s plans.  In addition,  Mr. Broussard offered assistance to Legacy’s opponents concerning the pending litigation.

Issue

The issue before the Ethics Board is whether Commissioner Broussard violated §§22 (a)(1) and 22A (c) of the DeKalb County Ethics Code when, by his conduct, he gave a reasonable basis for the impression that any individual who approached him after the November 10,  2004 meeting improperly or unduly enjoyed his favor in the performance of his official activities or that he was unduly affected by  his association with any person concerning an official activity or transaction that remained pending  before the commission.

Conclusion

The Board found that the evidence did not support a finding that Mr. Broussard, by his conduct, gave a reasonable basis for the impression that any individual who approached him after the November 10, 2004 meeting improperly or unduly enjoyed his favor in the performance of his official acts or that he was unduly affected by his association with any person.

Discussion

The Board noted that, “where evidence before the Board demonstrates a material benefit to an interested member of a DeKalb County governing authority, relative to pending transactions, and appears to evince a paucity of impartiality and independence, prior to final action taken on the transaction, and an unwarranted benefit or interest could result in an official act by that member, the member must be recused from further participation.”