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In my private life, I’m an unpaid volunteer with a community or charitable organization that has a matter before the Citys

If your involvement in the organization is unpaid, it isn’t likely to present a financial conflict of interest. Section 20-602 of the City Ethics Code, however, restricts City officials and employees from representing others - including community or charitable organizations - in matters involving the City.

This restriction is narrower for officials and employees who are either uncompensated or part-time. If that’s the case, the Ethics Code prohibits you from representing anyone concerning a matter in which you’ve at any time participated as a City official, or which is pending before the board, commission, or task force on which you serve.

This prohibition is absolute. You cannot avoid it by writing a “disclose and disqualify” letter because that applies only to financial conflicts of interest. Although Section 20-602 contains a few, very limited exceptions that allowing a City employee or official to represent another person before the City, these exceptions do not apply to this situation. You do not have to resign from your community or charitable organization. However, you may not intercede on its behalf with the board, commission, or task force on which you serve. You may represent your community or charitable organization before other City departments, boards, commissions, or task forces if your service to the City is either part time or uncompensated.

If your nonprofit organization wishes to obtain a City contract, your service with that organization is unpaid, and your board/commission/task force has a say in recommending or awarding the contract, it may be that no ethics rule or regulation prohibits you from participating in the contract award or recommendation since:

  • you have no financial interest in the nonprofit organization getting the contract and
  • you would not be representing the nonprofit organization before your board/commission/task force.

Nevertheless, you should disclose your affiliation and disqualify yourself from official decision-making under the procedure set forth under Section 20-608 of the City Ethics Code (concerning financial conflicts). This will avoid the appearance that a decision you make would be influenced by an outside relationship with a person or entity that stands to benefit from that decision.

If you have any question about your particular situation, please seek advice from the Ethics Board.

How Do I Handle...

IntegrityWorks offers guidance for commonly asked questions described below. These are not the only situations in which ethics rules would apply; they are simply the most common ones. Other guidance may be added to this site as situations warrant.

These are general guidelines. Because each situation presents its own set of facts, this general guidance isn’t advice on which you can legally rely. If you want to be absolutely sure that your conduct complies with applicable ethics laws, you should seek advice before taking action.