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CITY OF NEW YORK CONFLICTS OF INTEREST BOARD 2 Lafayette Street, Suite 1010 New York, New York 100 42-1400 TDD: (212) 442-1443 August 2, 2006 Elizabeth R. Fine, Esq General Counsel The Council of the City of New York 250 Broadway, 15" Floor ‘New York, New York 10007 Re: Conflicts of Interest Board Case No. 2006-400 (Bill de Blasio) Dear Ms. Fine: This is in response to your June 20, 2006, letter to the Conflicts of Interest Board (the "Board"), and subsequent communication with Board staff, requesting an opinion conceming any restrictions imposed by the conflicts of interest provisions of Chapter 68 of the City Charter on the proposed outside compensated activity of Council Member Bill de Blasio. ‘You have informed the Board that the Progressive America Fund (the “PAF”) has proposed to pay Mr. de Blasio $6,000 to serve as a consultant to its National Open Ballot Project (the “Project”); that the Project is an effort to create fusion voting nationwide; that fusion voting is the system in which a candidate appears on the ballot on the line of multiple parties, and the votes the candidate receives on the separate party lines are accumulated; that this system currently exists in seven states, one of which is New York; and that the Project therefore aims to extend this system to the remaining forty-three states, whether by ballot initiative or legislative campaign. You advise that Mr. de Blasio would undertake the following activities in support of the Project, much of it outside of New York State, but some of it within the State and indeed within the City 1) He would meet with editorial boards and colunmists, including some within the City, particularly because some of the country’s leading editorial boards and columnists are located here. Visit our hame page at bitpyinye gov'ethics COIB Case No. 2006-400 ‘August 2, 2006 Page 2 of 4 2) He would meet with party and elected officials, including party and elected officials in the City, since they have experience with fusion voting, and he would seek their help in promoting fusion voting around the county. 3) He would meet with individual donors and foundations to discuss specific initiatives to expand fusion voting, including, for example, a fusion voting ballot initiative in Massachusetts. He would not solicit funds, though there is likely to be some overlap between the donors and foundations with whom he meets and those with whom PAF fundraisers meet. 4) He would meet with such advocacy organizations as the Sierra Club and NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, groups he believes he might well interest in supporting fusion voting, in order to discuss fusion voting with them and to identify locations, again such as Massachusetts, where they could work to support an effort to expand fusion voting, Finally, you advise that PAF does not engage in business dealings with the City, Charter Section 2604(b)(2) prohibits a public servant from engaging in any private employment which is in conflict with the proper discharge of his or her official duties. Board Rules Section 1-13 has interpreted this provision to prohibit the use of City time or resources for any non-City purpose. Charter Section 2604(b)(3) prohibits a public servant from using or attempting to use his or her City position for the private advantage of the public servant or of anyone associated with the public servant. Charter Section 2604(d)(1) provides that no public servant shall solicit, negotiate for, ot accept a position at a firm which is involved in a particular matter with the City, while the public servant is “actively considering,” or “directly concerned or personally participating in” that particular matter as a City employee Charter Section 2604(b)(4) prohibits a public servant from disclosing or using for private advantage any confidential information concerning the City not otherwise available to the public. Charter Section 2604(b)(6) prohibits a City employee from representing private interests before the City or appearing, directly or indirectly, on behalf of private interests in matters involving the City. The prohibition on direct appearances means that public servants may not write, call, e-mail, fax, or otherwise communicate on behalf of private interests with any agency of the City, except on ministerial matters. See Charter Section 2601 (4). Charter Section 2604(b)(13) provides that no public servant shall receive compensation, except from the City, for performing any official duty. In Advisory COIB Case No. 2006-400 August 2, 2006 Page 3 of 4 Opinion No. 99-4, the Board held that it would violate Charter Section 2604(6)(13) for a public servant to accept outside compensation for any task that a public servant “might reasonably be expected to perform as part of his official duties.” Id. at 7. Applying that standard, the Board determined that a high ranking City employee could not accept a fee from private university to teach a class about successful new initiatives at his City agency. Here, however, it is the Board’s view that working to extend to other states what is already the law in New York is not activity that is part of Mr. de Blasio’s official duties as a Member of the Council ‘You are accordingly advised that, based on your representations, Mr, de Blasio’s proposed work for PAF would not violate Chapter 68, provided that he complies with the following conditions: (1) he must perform this outside work only at times when he is not required to perform services for the City (see Board Rules Seetion 1-13(a)); (2) he may not use City equipment, supplies, letterhead, personnel, or other City resources in connection with this non-City work (see Board Rules Section 1- 13(b))s (3) he may not use his official City position or title to obtain any private advantage for himself or PAF (more particularly, this condition means, without limitation, that he may not identify himself as a Council Member in connection with this private activity, although he may acknowledge that he is the Bill de Blasio who is a Council Member if directly asked) (see Charter Section 2604(b\(3)); (4) he may not meet with, or otherwise communicate on behalf of PAF with, persons or firms who or which have pending matters before the Council, while he is actively considering or directly concerned or personally participating in such particular matters as a public servant (see Charter Section 2604(4)(1)); (5) he may not communicate on behalf of PAF with City elected officials, or any other City officers, officials or employees, to seek any action by such officials in their official capacities (see Charter Section 2604(b)(6)); and, (6) he may not disclose or use for private advantage any confidential information concerning the City not otherwise available to the public (see Charter Section 2604(b)(4)). If in the future PAF intends to engage in business dealings with the City, Mr. de Blasio should promptly contact the Board for further guidance. See Charter Section 2604(a\(1)(b). The advice conveyed in this letter is conditioned on the correctness and completeness of the facts supplied to us. If such facts are in any respect incorrect or incomplete, the advice we have given to you may not apply. Ifat any time you would