Posted by: Patricia Salkin | April 1, 2019

RI Ethics Commission Opines that Spouse of Deputy Zoning Official May Appear Before Town Council for Zoning Use Amendment

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission opined that it is permissible for the spouse of a deputy zoning official to petition the town council for an amendment to the zoning use regulations to allow the deputy zoning official to open and operate an art studio and gallery on her spouse’s property. Under Rhode Island statute a public official is prohibited, among other things, from participating in any matter in which s/he has an interest and that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of their public duties. Further, public officials may not represent themselves nor any other person before an agency of which s/he is a member or by which s/he is employed, and public officials are prohibited from authorizing another person to appear on their behalf in front of an agency of which they are a member or employed. The Commission concluded that since it was the spouse and not the deputy zoning official who wished to appear before the council, and that the zoning official was neither a member of the town council nor employed by it and that further the council did not appoint the zoning official, there would be no prohibition.

RI Ethics Commission, Advisory Opinion No. 2019-22 (March 29, 2019)

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