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Interpretative Opinion 96-02: Conflict of Interest

March 4, 1996

The Honorable Frank Smith, Jr.
Councilmember, Ward 1
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Suite 125
Washington, DC  20004

Re: Conflict of Interest

Dear Councilmember Smith:

This responds to your request for an opinion indicating whether your investment in a firm which does business with the Airports Authority would constitute a conflict of interest.  You state that, as a Councilmember, you are called upon to vote on the confirmation of the two District of Columbia members of the Authority.  You also state that the firm currently does no business with the District Government.

The opinion of the Office of Campaign Finance is that your investment in the firm would not create a conflict of interest if you vote on the confirmation of the Authority members.  DC Code § 1-1461(g) requires a Councilmember to request the he or she be excused from voting by the Chairman where the vote would affect the Councilmember’s financial interests or a business with which he or she is associated.  It does not appear that your vote on the confirmation of an Airports Authority member would affect either your financial interests or the firm in which you propose to invest.  Therefore, you would not be required to request recusal from these votes pursuant to § 1-1461(g).

However, a conflict of interest would occur if a Councilmember’s confirmation vote for a nominee was a reward for past favorable treatment of the Councilmember’s financial interest or associated business or was based on an understanding that future favorable treatment would occur.

Please be advised that, should the firm do business with the District Government in the future, you will be required to disclose your investment on your Financial Disclosure Statement.