DATE OF ADOPTION: September 17, 1998
In general, an officer or employee’s interest conflicts with that of Seminole State College when s/he places him/herself in a position to benefit directly or indirectly through a misuse of public position. This “benefit” may be in the form of money, but can also be in the form of some other type of benefit to the employee. It makes no difference whether the benefit is gained directly by the employee, or whether by a relative or a friend. Neither does it matter whether Seminole State College is harmed by the action.
This policy is not limited to outright dishonesty. Conflicts of interest are frequently subtle, and often it is only a matter of degree between an acceptable course of action and an unacceptable one.
In determining whether there is a conflict involved in any given situation, there really is no substitute for sound judgment and common sense to be used in each case based upon the particular facts involved. In any case of doubt, an employee should confer with the President of the College to consider whether a particular matter could involve a potential conflict of interest, before engaging in the activity in question. Consultation by Regents and employees with legal counsel may be necessary.
It should be understood that the conflicting interests referred to throughout this policy may be direct or indirect. The interest might be that of the employee or officer, or that of another person, such as a member of the family or other close relative, or even that of a business enterprise in which the employee or officer, or other person, has an interest, and the interest may be financial or otherwise. An officer or employee is financially “indirectly interested” in a particular matter where he or she has or is likely to have a pecuniary or personal interest which is likely or would tend to interfere with the person’s objective performance of public duties.
Typical Conflicts of Interest
Employees should always avoid even the appearance of impropriety, as well as the reality of a conflict. These examples set forth certain situations which would normally raise questions of a conflict of interest. Accordingly, these types of transactions should be avoided.
- Seeking or Accepting Gifts. Under no circumstances may any Regent or employee seek or accept any compensation, gift, loan, entertainment, favor or service given for the purpose of influencing the person in the discharge of official duties. This does not prohibit occasional acceptance of items of nominal value (generally less than $50.00) which are not intended to influence the business judgment of the person involved. (Example: plaques, desk calendars, pens or pencils, small food items, etc.)
- Improper Use of Office or Position. It is improper for any Regent or employee to use his/her office or position in ways that are designed to obtain some special privilege or advantage for him/herself or someone else.
- Disclosure of Confidential Information. No public employee or officer my give, release or discuss confidential information obtained by the use of her/his office position to any person, group or business association not entitled to that information. No employee may use any confidential information obtained by the use of an official position for personal gain.
- Selling Goods and Services to the College or State Agencies. No employee may sell, offer to sell, or cause to be sold any goods or services to SSC, except where such business relationships are preceded by competitive bidding, with the employee being declared the lowest and best bidder for the acquisition. This prohibition extends not only to transactions where the employee is personally selling goods or services, but also to cases where the employee has a substantial financial interest in a business organization that wishes to engage in transactions with SSC.
- Outside Employment or Compensation No Regent or employee of SSC may receive or ask for any outside employment or compensation that would impair the independence of judgment of the officer or employee from any source outside of the State, unless otherwise provided by law. A member of the SSC Regents should never serve on the governing board of a college-related foundation at the same time as holding the public office of Regent.
- Use of State Titles/Political Activities. All citizens of this country have basic guaranteed rights as individuals to participate in civic and community affairs which may affect the welfare of society. At the same time, however, activities of this nature must not be represented or implied to represent that the individual is speaking on behalf of SSC, which are state supported, but nonpolitical in administration.
Regents and employees of SSC are guaranteed the right as individuals to register and vote as they may choose, express political opinions, make voluntary political contributions, or to otherwise participate fully in public affairs, including running for public office, except as prohibited by law. In so doing, however, Regents and employees should act in a manner which does not materially compromise the neutrality, efficiency, or integrity of their official duties.
Regents and employees of SSC may not, in an official capacity or through the use of any public funds, personnel, equipment or other support:
1. Directly or indirectly solicit contributions of any kind for a partisan political candidate or party;
2. Directly or indirectly solicit, receive, collect, handle, disburse or account for assessments, contributions or other funds for a partisan political purpose.
3. Organize, sell tickets to promote or actively participate in a fund-raising activity of a candidate in a partisan election of a political party;
Regents and employees of SSC may not, at any time:
- Imply, directly or indirectly, that SSC endorses the individual’s personal political beliefs or activities, or any political party, candidate, cause, or partisan or nonpartisan activity. However, in this regard, it is recognized that a certain degree of activity that is technically of a political nature is required of officers of the college in order to discharge their statutory and/or job responsibilities. Such activities may be allowed when related to fulfilling the duties and obligations set forth under State statutes, the published job description of the employee, and as specifically authorized by the SSC Regents;
- Engage in any political activities, whether of a partisan or nonpartisan nature, that would interfere with the legal rights of other employees of the college, or of the students attending SSC;
- Engage in any political activity, partisan or nonpartisan, which would interrupt the routine operation of any office of the college;
- Engage in any political activities which would interfere with the assigned duties of the officer or employee.
Persons who have questions regarding potential conflicts should seek advice from their supervisors or from the President.