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Interpretative Opinion 01-14: Conflict of Interest

January 9, 2002

The Honorable Josh Gibson
Commissioner, ANC 1C
1801 Wyoming Avenue, NW, #25
Washington, DC 20009

Re: Conflict of Interest

Dear Commissioner Gibson:

This responds to your request for an opinion concerning whether your participation or vote on a zoning variance to redevelop a former printing plant in your ANC would constitute a conflict of interest. First, you state that one of the developers for the project provided in-kind construction assistance for a community garden project for which you provided oversight with ANC approval. Further, you state you have no financial interest in the developer’s company or in the developer’s planned condo/office project. Second, you state that you serve as a board member for an arts non-profit organization that would be housed in the proposed development.

DC Official Code § 1-1106.01(b) (2001 Edition) states, in pertinent part, “[n]o public official shall use his or her 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 a member of his or her household is associated, other than that compensation provided by law for said public official.”

DC Official Code § 1-1106.01(i)(3) defines the term, “business with which he or she is associated”, as “any business of which the person or member of his or her household is a director, officer, owner, employee, or holder of stock worth $1,000 or more at fair market value, and any business which is a client of that person.”

DC Official Code § 1-1106.01 (c) provides, “[n]o person shall offer or give to a public official or a member of a public official’s household, and no public official shall solicit or receive anything of value, . . ., based on any understanding that such public official’s official actions or judgment or vote would be influenced thereby, or where it could reasonably be inferred that the thing of value would influence the public official in the discharge of his or her duties, . . ., except for . . . transactions made in the ordinary course of business of the person offering or giving the thing of value.”

You represent that the developer provided in-kind services to an ANC-approved project, not to you personally; and that you have no financial interest in the developer’s business. Notwithstanding the high visibility associated with you and the developer relative to the community garden project, there appears to be nothing in the relationship, as described, to raise the specter of a conflict of interest. Further, your position as member of the board of a non-profit organization, does not fall within the definition of the phrase, “business with which he or she is associated.”

Therefore, it is the opinion of the Office of Campaign Finance that your participation in the decision-making concerning the zoning variance would not present a conflict of interest.