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Interpretative Opinion 03-02: Conflict of Interest

March 17, 2003

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

Dear Ms. Brookins-Hudson:

This letter is in response to your request for an Interpretive Opinion dated January 14, 2003, on whether a staff person of the Council who is a member of the board of directors of a non-profit organization in the District of Columbia may engage in fundraising on behalf of the non-profit. You indicated that the employee in question is not “paid at a rate of GS-13 or above” for coverage under the disclosure of financial interest but, noted that she is required to comply with the applicable provisions of the Standards of Conduct that regulate the “ethical conduct of all District employees” in accordance with DC Official Code §1-618.02 (b)(2001 Edition).

While we are in agreement with your assertion that the employee in question is governed by the District government’s Standards of Conduct, we do not believe the Office of Campaign Finance is the appropriate agency to provide legal opinion you are seeking.  The class of employees who are subject to the Office of Campaign Finance’s enforcement of the Standards of Conduct pursuant to DC Official Code §1-1106.02 (a), are “paid at a rate of GS-13 or above.”  In view of the fact that the employee you have described does not fall into that category, her activity is outside the jurisdiction of OCF.

However, based upon the information you have provided, it appears that the appropriate forum in which you should inquire regarding the employee’s ability to engage in fundraising on behalf of the non-profit organization is the Ethics Office of the Corporation Counsel.  Therefore, we recommend that you submit a request for a written legal opinion on this matter to that Office.