May a former Department of Human Services [DHS] employee accept employment with a planning and development district as a local county level case manager?State law restricts the Mississippi Ethics Commission to interpreting and issuing opinions on Sections 25-4-101 through 25-4-119, 1972 Mississippi Code Annotated and Article IV, Section 109, Mississippi Constitution of 1890. Therefore, this opinion does not address the Mississippi laws outside the Commission's jurisdiction nor the governmental entities' internal rules and regulations.
The pertinent conflict of interest laws to be considered here are:
"(f) 'Contract' means:
(i) Any agreement to which the government is a party; or
(ii) Any agreement on behalf of the government which involves the payment of public funds.
(g) 'Governmental' means the state and all political entities thereof both collectively and separately, including but not limited to:
(v) Any department, agency, board, commission, institution, instrumentality, or legislative or administrative body of the state, counties or municipalities created by statute, ordinance or executive order including all units that expend public funds.
(h) 'Governmental entity' means the state, a county, a municipality or any other separate political subdivision authorized by law to exercise a part of the sovereign power of the state.(1)) 'Public servant' means:
(i) Any elected or appointed official of the government;
(ii) Any officer, director, commissioner, supervisor, chief, head, agent or employee of the government or any agency thereof; or of any public entity created by or under the laws of the State of Mississippi or created by an agency or governmental entity thereof; any of which is funded by public funds or which expends, authorizes or recommends the use of public funds; or
(iii) Any individual who receives a salary, per diem or expenses paid in whole or in part out of funds authorized to be expended by the government."
"(3) No public servant shall:
(e) Perform any service for any compensation for any person or business alter termination of his office or employment is relation to any case, decision, proceeding or application with respect to which he was directly concerned or in which he personally participated during the period of his service or employment."
Based solely on the facts and circumstances presented by the requestor, the Commission's opinion is as follows.
The conflict of interest laws do not as such prohibit a former DHS employee from being employed by a planning and development district as a local county level case manager.
Notwithstanding the above, the requestor is cautioned to advise the former DHS employee to remain keenly aware of the above cited Code Section 25-4-105(3)(e). Code Section 25-4-105(3)(e) prohibits a former public servant from being compensated after termination of his or her public employment in relation to any case, decision, proceeding or application with respect to which he or she was directly concerned or in which he or she personally participated during the period of his or her public employment.
Ronald E. Crowe Executive Director