August 9, 2011
Mr. Kenneth Friels
Alderman, Town of Cottonport
P. O. Box 118
Cottonport, LA 71327
Re: Board Docket No. 2011-970
Dear Mr. Friels:
The Louisiana Board of Ethics, at its July 15, 2011 meeting, considered your request for clarification of advisory opinions rendered in Ethics Board Docket Nos. 2011-445 and 2010-165 regarding appointments to Housing Authorities. Specifically, you would like the Board to reconcile how two different conclusions were reached from seemingly similar sets of facts.
Both of these inquiries were analyzed under Section 1113A of the Code of Governmental Ethics. Section 1113 prohibits a public servant from entering into transactions under the supervision or jurisdiction of his agency. In Board Docket No. 2010-165, the Board was asked whether a councilmember for the Town of Cottonport may be appointed to the Governing Board for the Cottonport Housing Authority when the appointments were made by the mayor and confirmed by the town council.
In Board Docket No. 2010-165, the Board noted that while Section 1113 prohibits a public servant from entering into transactions under the supervision or jurisdiction of his agency, Section 1113A(1)(b)(ii) provided an exception that allows a governing authority to appoint one of its members to a board when the governing authority1 is the appropriate appointing authority. The Board found the town council to be an appropriate appointing authority since all appointments to the governing board were required to be confirmed by the town council. Therefore, the Board concluded that a councilmember may be appointed to the governing authority.
Contrastingly, in Board Docket No. 2011-445, the Board concluded that a councilmember for the Town of Simmesport could not be appointed to the Board of Commissioners for the Simmesport Housing. In this matter, the above-stated exception was not applicable. The opinion in 2011-445 was based on the fact that the mayor of Simmesport made appointments to the Board of Commissioners without council approval, thus the town council was not an appropriate appointing authority. Accordingly, an appointment by the mayor would amount to a transaction under the supervision or jurisdiction of the councilmember's agency--the Town of Simmesport.
In both instances, the appointments would be considered transactions under the jurisdiction of the agency2 of the councilmembers. However, the exception is only applicable in Board Docket No. 2010-165 because appointments are confirmed by the town council. In 2011-445, since town council did not have a role in appointments to the Simmesport Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, the exception does not apply and the appointment is prohibited under the general restrictions set forth in Section 1113A.
The Board issues no opinion as to past conduct or laws other than Code of Governmental Ethics. If you have any questions, please contact me at (225) 219-5600 or (800) 842-6630.
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
Deidra L. Godfrey
For the Board
1 Section 1102(11) defines a governing authority as the body which exercises the legislative functions of political subdivision.
2 Section 1102(2)(a)(vi) states that the agency for member of a governing authority is the governmental entity.