Formal Advisory Opinions

Opinion Number  ▾

Issue

Opinion Summary

Code Section

2017-1

Appearance of Impropriety

The Code of Ethics seeks to protect the integrity of city government by prohibiting city officials and employees from engaging in conflicts of interest. Specifically, the ethical standards prohibit officials and employees from participating in business activities, rendering services, or having contractual, financial, or personal interests that conflict with the individual's official duties or the city's best interest or would create the appearance of a conflict or impropriety to the public that would impair the individual's independence or objectivity in the performance of his or her official duties. It is often difficult for an official or employee to see that there may be an appearance issue in regards to his or her actions or conduct even when there is no apparent conflict, and it is important for the Ethics Board and Ethics Officer to provide clear guidance to avoid any improprieties.

2-802

2-813

2015-2

Post City Private and Public Employment

The City's Standards of Conduct (Atlanta Ethics Code) in Section 2-810 addresses the issue of activities for which a former city employee can be compensated for a period of one year after leaving the City. Although the Board of Ethics has previously interpreted the language of the provision as imposing a very broad prohibition on activities which involve interaction with the City, the Board has determined that the current language of the Code does not support a broad prohibition, but instead indicates very specific instances when such activities are prohibited. Additionally, the Board is recommending that the Code provision be amended to specifically address subsequent employment with public entities with a presumption that public employment will not be prohibited, but should be examined on a case-by-case basis.

2-810

2015-1

Criteria and Process for Filing of Annual Financial Disclosure Statements

Section 2-814 of the Atlanta Code of Ethics provides that certain city officials (which include appointees to boards, commissions and task forces as defined by Section 2-801) and employees are required to file a financial disclosure statement every year that they are serving and in the year after they leave city service. The statement requires disclosure of income sources, real estate interests, business transactions with the City, and family members’ transactions with the City. As set forth by the Ethics Code, the Ethics Office has established a process to determine which officials and employees are required to file each year.

2-814

2013-1

Tickets

The City’s Standards of Conduct prohibits the City or an entity acting as its agent from requiring that passes, tickets or gratuities be paid to officials or employees in connection with the execution of or performance under a contract or a lease. Therefore, the subject contract language in the Tri-Party Memorandum of Understanding for a Succession Facility to the Georgia Dome violates the Atlanta Code of Ethics.

2-816

2012-1

Conflicts of Interest

A local producer has a personal interest in People TV arising from her position as a paying member who regularly uses the facilities and equipment and seeks to have programs aired on public access channels. Based on that personal interest, she is disqualified from serving on People TV Board because a potential conflict exists and recusal is not a viable option.

2-813

2011-1

Solicitations

City employees should not solicit donations for city programs from companies or individuals when they know or should know that the potential donor is regulated by, doing business with, or seeking business from the employee or the employee’s agency or has a specific matter pending before the agency. 

2-818

2010-2

Personal interests

Whether a city elected official has a personal interest that requires disclosure and disqualification from voting depends on whether there is a personal benefit to the official.  The interest may be based on a reasonably foreseeable financial interest, a relationship with an immediate family member, or a relationship with a business, partnership, or corporate association other than a public agency.

2-813

2010-1

Contract participation;
Disclosure of interests

A city employee who has a financial and personal interest in a company should not participate in contracts or decisions when he knows or with reasonable investigation should know that the contract or decision involves an active client of his former firm.

2-812

2-813

2009-2

Contract participation; Post-employment

Members of a city board should not be personally involved in applications for grants that will be awarded in part based on the board's policy recommendations while serving on the board and during the one-year cooling off period; the firm, company, or employer of the former board member may apply for grants, provided the former board member is not involved in the application.

2-810

2-812

2009-1

Contract participation

City officials and employers may not engage the services or buy products from an immediate family member or his or her company.

2-812

2008-8

Representation of private interests in matters adverse to City

The ban on volunteer city officials' representing private interests in matters adverse to the City does not apply to members of the official's firm, and the city board member may receive his or her proportional share of the proceeds that the firm derives from the claim against the City.

2-809

2-813

2008-7

Use of city letterhead in charitable fundraising

City officials may not use official city letterhead or other city resources to raise funds on behalf of non-profit groups that are not affiliated with the City.

2-811

2-818

2008-6

Financial transactions between employees

Supervisors should not solicit donations, purchase goods and services, or engage in other financial transactions with subordinates.

2-818

2008-5

Use of city property in campaign endorsements

City employees may not endorse candidates, participate in political advertisements, or engage in political activity while on duty, wearing an official uniform, or using a city vehicle.

2-811

2008-4

Use of city property in city pension board elections

City employees may not use city property to advocate the candidacy of any individual to serve on the city's pension boards.

2-811

2008-3

Gifts of travel to City

The City may accept gifts of travel from prohibited sources when the gift is donated to the City or an agency, the travel is done in an official capacity on official city business, the travel is approved in advance, the expenses are reasonable, and the gift and travel are disclosed on online forms.

2-801

2008-2

Disclosure of financial and personal interests

Officials or employees have a conflict of interest when they, their employer, or their immediate family have a financial or personal interest in a contract, proposed legislation, or a decision that is pending before them or their agency.

2-813

2008-1

Prohibited sources

A prohibited source is a person or company that is doing business with the City, seeking the city’s business, actively promoting or opposing city legislation, has a matter pending before a city agency, or is registered as a lobbyist with the State Ethics Commission.

2-801

2-817

2007-3

Outside employment

City employees may engage in outside employment with a national airline that is a prohibited source when their job is unrelated to their official duties and they are paid the same salary and benefits as airline employees in comparable positions.

2-801

2-820 (b) 2-820 (c)

2007-2

Disclosure of travel expenses paid by non-city sources

City officials and employees must disclose their reasonable hosting expenses for travel in an official capacity for city-related business when funded by a non-city source.

2-801

2-815

2007-1

Board members appearing before oversight department

City board members may represent private interests before the City Council, but may not appear on behalf of a business, client, or other private interest before the board on which they serve or its oversight department.

2-808

2006-4

Board members appearing before related agency

City board members may not appear on behalf of a business, client, or other private interests before the city agency that is regulated by or related to the public board on which they serve.

2-808

2006-3

Board members doing business with the City

A city board member is prohibited from doing business with the board on which the member serves, except through a sealed competitive bid process.

2-820(c)

2006-2

Travel reimbursements from prohibited sources

City employees may accept reasonable hosting expenses from prohibited sources in four circumstances: speaking, teaching, participating on a professional or civic panel, and attending a conference.

2-801

2-815

2006-1

Use of city records: Confidential information

A city employee may not use confidential city information acquired in an official capacity to advance the employee’s or another person’s financial or personal interests.

2-819

2005-7

Use of city property by candidates

City elected officials and city employees may not use city property to promote any candidate for political office, except when the property is made available to all candidates or the general public or the use is trivial.

2-811

2005-6

Solicitations for city programs

City officials and employees may solicit gifts for city programs when the fund-raising is for an official city purpose, is part of a broad public appeal, and does not target prohibited sources.

2-818

2005-5

Post-employment and former city attorney

A former deputy city attorney may not appear before a city agency for one year or represent a client with a claim against the City during that year unless the claim involves a new matter about which the deputy gained no knowledge while employed with the City.

2-810

2005-4

Board member appearing before own board

City board and commission members may not appear before their own board on behalf of other entities or in the public's interest.

2-808

2005-3

Doing business with the City

A city employee may provide goods and services to the City only when the business is conducted through sealed competitive bidding process.

2-820(c)

2005-2

Solicitations for employee prizes

A city employee may solicit donations for employee awards on behalf of a city agency from anyone who is not a prohibited source or targeted solely because it does business with the City.

2-801

2-818

2005-1

Participation in auctions

Police Department employees, their representatives, and their family members may not participate in auctions that dispose of property seized by police.

2-812

2-819

2004-8

Holiday gifts

City officials or employees may accept a gift on behalf of their department if the gift is a perishable item, has a nominal market value, and is shared with public visitors and office employees.

2-801

2-817

2004-7

Tickets

City officials and employees may not accept free tickets to any entertainment or athletic event which are offered due to their position with the City, unless they are performing an official duty at the event.

2-816

2004-6

Solicitations for charities

A city employee may not personally solicit funds from a prohibited source for a charitable or professional organization.

2-818

2004-5

Travel reimbursements

City officials and employees may not accept expense reimbursements from a prohibited source to travel to another city to review a best-practices program.

2-801

2-815

2004-4

Conflicts of interest & NPU officers

An NPU officer who works as a city code enforcement officer has a potential conflict of interest concerning code enforcement matters that come before her NPU, and an NPU officer has an actual conflict of interest in a zoning variance since he is the real estate agent for a property owner who opposes the application.

2-813

2004-3

Post-employment

A former policy analyst to the public safety committee and former vehicles for hire hearing officer are precluded from providing training to taxi drivers for a year after they leave their city positions.

2-810

2004-2

Outside employment

A city employee may not own a company that trains taxi drivers while working as policy analyst to the City Council public safety committee; a vehicle for hire panel member may not work as a trainer for the employee's company.

2-820(a)

2-820(b)

2004-1

Official city business

City officials and employees are conducting official city business when they act in an official capacity and perform official duties on behalf of the City.

2-811

2003-3

Personal honorarium

Any personal honorarium from a prohibited source must be returned or delivered to the city’s general fund and publicly disclosed on an online Gift to the City Report.

2-817

2-820(e)

2003-2

Incompatible investments

Atlanta Development Authority President has no inherent conflict of interest based on his personal and financial interest in a company that may seek to do business with the City of Atlanta.

2-812

2-820(a)

2003-1

Use of city property

A city official is not entitled to a reduction or waiver of any rental fee for the personal use of parks property or for the use of any other private person or entity on terms that are not available to the general public.

2-811

Advice

Newsletter Sign Up

First Name
Last Name
Email

68 Mitchell Street, SW
Suite 1100
Atlanta, GA 30303