May an individual elected circuit clerk simultaneously serve as the justice court clerk for the county in which he or she was elected to serve as circuit clerk?The Mississippi Ethics Commission is restricted 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, Mississippi laws outside the jurisdiction of the Commission and internal rules and regulations of the governmental entity are not addressed by this opinion.The pertinent conflict of interest laws to be considered here are:Code Section 25-4-103(f)(i)(ii), (g)(i), (h) and (p)(i)(ii)(iii) states:"(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:(i) Counties.(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.(p) 'Public servant' means:Code Section 25-4-105(3)(a) states:(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 finds 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 finds authorized to be expended by the government."
"(3) No public servant shall:Pertinent facts and circumstances provided by the requestor, absent identifying data, are set forth as follows and considered part of this opinion.(a) Be a contractor, subcontractor or vendor with the governmental entity of which he is a member, officer, employee or agent, other than in his contract of employment, or have a material financial interest in any business which is a contractor, subcontractor or vendor with the governmental entity of which he is a member, officer, employee or agent."The Board of Supervisors would appreciate an opinion of the Ethics Commission as to whether an elected Circuit Clerk of the County can serve, for additional salary, as Clerk of the Justice Court of the County.The Commission formally adopts Advisory Opinion No. 96-003-E in response to this request and by attachment incorporates it into this opinion.
Based solely on the facts and circumstances presented in the requestor's letter, the Commission's opinion is that the circuit clerk, like the coroner serving as a paid deputy sheriff in the attached opinion, would be prohibited from simultaneously serving as a paid justice court clerk in the county he or she serves as circuit clerk by the above cited Code Section 25-4-105(3)(a).
As stated in the attached advisory opinion, "The interpretation of Code Section 25-4- 105(3)(a) is that a public servant may hold only one position with the authority of the governmental entity of which he or she is a member, officer, employee or agent."
Ronald E. Crowe Executive Director