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Interpretative Opinion 06-03: Conflict of Interest

June 05, 2006
 

Charlotte Brookins-Hudson
General Counsel
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 4
Washington, DC 20004

Re: Conflict of Interest

This responds to your request for an expedited opinion concerning whether the participation by Chairman Linda W. Cropp in a vote on the approval of Contract No. DCBE-2006-C-0140, Emergency Approval Resolution of 2006, would pose a conflict of interest.

Specifically, you stated that your inquiry is based on the following relevant facts:

(a) Contract No. DCBE-2006-C-0140 is a $300,000 multiyear contract between the Office of Personnel and The George Washington University to operate the Public Manager Certification Program.

(b) The spouse of Chairman Linda W. Cropp is a professor at The George Washington University, but he receives no compensation and is not affiliated with the Public Manager Certification Program at The George Washington University.

You additionally stated that Chairman Cropp would not derive any financial benefit, either directly or indirectly from the approval of the contract.

DC Official Code § 1-1106.01(b) (2001Edition) provides that “[n]o public official shall use his or her official position or office to obtain financial gain for himself or herself, any member of his or her household, or any business with which he or she or any member of
his or her household is associated with, other than that compensation provided by law for said public official. This subsection shall not affect a vote by a public official: (1) On any matter which affects a class of persons (such a class shall include no less than 50 persons) of which such public official is a member if the financial gain to be realized is de minimis…”

D.C. Official Code § 1-1106.01(f) provides that “[n]o member or employee of the Council of the District of Columbia … shall accept an assignment to serve on a committee the jurisdiction of which consist of matters (other than of a de minimis nature)in which he or she or a member of his family or a business with which he or she is associated, has financial interest.”

After a preliminary review of the facts herein, Chairman Cropp’s participation in a vote on the approval of Contract No. DCBE-2006-C-0140 would not present a conflict of interest as long as she did not use her official position or office to obtain financial gain for herself, her husband or any member of her household in this matter; and, neither she nor any member of her household will receive a financial benefit from the contract. Based upon your representations herein, it would appear that is not the case here.

Therefore, it is the opinion of the Office of Campaign Finance that Chairman Cropp may participate in the vote on the approval of Contract No. DCBE-2006-C-0140.

The foregoing is an Interpretative Opinion of the Director of the Office of Campaign Finance. Pursuant to D.C. Official Code §1-1103.05, you are entitled to request an Advisory Opinion from the Board of Elections and Ethics on this transaction or activity.