Dear Ms. Plover:
This is in response to your letter requesting advice regarding your responsibilities under the conflict-of-interest provisions of the Political Reform Act (the "Act"). Because your situation does not involve a governmental decision, we can only provide this general explanation of the requirements of the Act.
As the Director of Finance with the City of South Gate, will accepting a position of treasurer in a campaign for a candidate for city council in the City of Signal Hill create a conflict of interest?
The Act does not prohibit a public official from serving as treasurer in a campaign for a candidate for city council. However, you should consult with your City Attorney to determine whether a local ordinance limits such activities.
You are the Director of Finance with the City of South Gate. You are considering assuming the position of treasurer in a campaign for a candidate for city council in the City of Signal Hill, which is where you reside. As far as you know, the City of South Gate does not have any contractual obligations with the City of Signal Hill. You have asked whether this will create a conflict of interest.
Section 87100 prohibits any public official from making, participating in making, or otherwise using his or her official position to influence a governmental decision in which the official has a financial interest. The Act does not prohibit a public official from holding public office due to financial interests he or she may hold. Thus, in your capacity as Director of Finance for the City of South Gate, you may serve as treasurer for a campaign for a candidate for city council in the City of Signal Hill and retain your public position whether the candidate for city council is a financial interest to you or not. (Coye Advice Letter, No. A-81-067.)
However, if you receive income from serving in your capacity as treasurer, then you would have an economic interest in that source of income, and thus you would be prohibited in your capacity as Director of Finance from participating in any decision on behalf of the City of South Gate that would materially affect that source of income. (Section 87103.)
Therefore, absent some other disqualifying financial interest as set forth in Section 87103, or some direct financial effect on you personally resulting from a governmental decision, you will not have a conflict of interest if you choose to assume the position of treasurer in a campaign for a candidate for city council in the City of Signal Hill and continue your employment with the City of South Gate. (Sampson Advice Letter, No. I-89-196.) Please note, however, that the information we are providing is limited to the Political Reform Act. Other prohibitions may apply to the situation you have posed, such as whether the City of South Gate prohibits its employees from engaging in certain "incompatible" activities outside of their city employment.
For future reference we have enclosed a pamphlet entitled "California's Conflict of Interest Laws for Public Officials" which summarizes the Act's conflict of interest laws. In addition, enclosed is a copy of Regulation 18427 which discusses the duties of treasurers and candidates with respect to campaign statements.
If you have any further questions regarding this matter, please feel free to contact me at (916) 322-5901.\