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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

The Academy for New York State's Local Officials

Protecting the Public’s Interest: A Tutorial on Local Government Ethics and Transparency in New York State

Module 1 - Conflict of Interest of Municipal Officers and Employees

Are Other Exceptions Allowed?

As Mark noted earlier, it is important to recognize that the exceptions listed in Article 18 are the only ones allowed, despite the circumstances in which the contract was entered into, or any efforts to level the playing field. We sometimes are asked whether there is an exception for one or more of the following situations:

  • Competitive bids or requests for proposal
  • Disclosure requirements
  • Abstention or recusal
  • Emergencies

The answer is no. If a municipal official or employee has an interest in a contract, and also has Section 801 powers and duties, and none of the statutory exceptions apply, the interest in the contract is prohibited.

For example, suppose there is a fire in a county office, and office equipment and furniture are unsalvageable. Replacement items must be purchased immediately in order for the department to continue to function. A county board member owns an office furniture store, and it is public knowledge that he is the owner; indeed, he has officially disclosed that he owns the store, and has abstained from voting on the emergency contract. Because the county board member has an interest in any contract with his furniture store, if he also has Section 801 powers and duties, his interest in any contract with the furniture store would be prohibited because none of the statutory exceptions apply. It does not matter that the procurement is required to meet an emergency, or that the board member’s ownership was known, or that he did not vote on the contract. Even if several bids were obtained and the board member’s store offered the lowest price, the board member’s interest would still be prohibited because none of the statutory exceptions apply.

  Next: Additional Prohibitions - Designation of Banks or Trust Companies