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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 3 - Case Studies on Conflicts of Interest

Discussion of Situation 8

Does a town supervisor have a prohibited interest in a contract if his wife serves as his bookkeeper and confidential secretary? Why or why not? Are there any other issues with which the town should be concerned?

A town supervisor is deemed to have “interest” in the contracts of his or her spouse, except for contracts of employment with the town for which the supervisor serves. Therefore, a town supervisor does not have a prohibited interest in a contract when his wife is an employee of the town serving as his bookkeeper and confidential secretary.

Other Issues to Consider:

The town’s code of ethics must be consulted to determine if it contains any pertinent provisions. Even if the town’s code of ethics is silent on the matter, the supervisor should abstain from discussions and votes pertaining to matters relating solely or primarily to the secretary/bookkeeper.

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