October 6, 2009
City Of New Orleans
1300 Perdido Street, 5th Floor East
New Orleans, LA 70112
RE: Ethics Board Docket No. 2009-902
Dear Ms. Moses-Fields:
The Louisiana Board of Ethics, at its September 30, 2009 Board meeting, considered your request for an advisory opinion regarding whether the New Orleans Director of International Relations may serve as an Honorary Consul to Peru. You stated that Lisa Ponce De Leon is the Director for International Relations for the City of New Orleans. As an Honorary Consul, Ms. Ponce De Leon will serve as an official of the sending country. Honorary Consuls generally help to promote business diplomacy of the sending state. Ms. Ponce De Leon will not be compensated for her service as a consul.
The Board concluded, and instructed me to advise you, that the Code of Governmental Ethics would not prohibit Ms. Ponce De Leon’s service as an Honorary Consul. Section 1111C(1)(a) of the Code prohibits a public servant from receiving any thing of economic value from an outside source for the performance of services which are devoted substantially to the responsibilities, programs, or operations of the agency of the public servant and in which the public servant has participated. Section 1111C(2)(d) of the Code prohibits a public servant from being employed by a person that has a business or financial relationship with the agency of the public servant. Section 1113 of the Code prohibits a public servant from entering into a transaction that is under the jurisdiction of the public servants agency. Section 1102(22)(a) defines thing of economic value as money or anything having economic value. In order for Sections 1111C(2)(d) or 1111C(1)(a) to apply Ms. Ponce De Leon has to receive something of economic value for her service as a consul. Since Ms. Ponce De Leon will not be compensated as a Honorary Consul, there is no violation of the Code if she becomes an Honorary Consul. Further, as long as Ms. Ponce De Leon is not appointed as consul by the City Council, there is no transaction under the supervision of her agency and thus, there is no violation of Section 1113 of the Code.
This advisory opinion is based solely on the facts as set forth herein. Changes to the facts as presented may result in a different application of the provisions of the Code of Ethics. The Board issues no opinion as to past conduct or laws other than the Code of Governmental Ethics. If you have any questions, please contact me at (225) 219-5600 or (800) 842-6630.
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
For the Board