An opinion has been requested from the State Ethics Commission concerning the State financial disclosure requirements that apply to an individual (the Requestor) serving as attorney to the Board of Trustees of a Community College (the Board).
The Requestor indicates that he is in private practice and provides legal services to the Board on a retainer basis. The Board by continuing resolution has determined that it will call on him for legal services when required and will reimburse him on an hourly basis for hours worked at an established rate per hour. He states that his relationship with the Board is that of attorney and client, rather than employee/employer, and further indicates that he does not receive any health, retirement, social security or other benefits that normally result from an employee/employer relationship.
The disclosure requirements of the Public Ethics Law apply to persons who are in the executive branch or an executive agency in State government as set forth in the definition of "public official" in the Public Ethics Law (Article 40A, §§1-201(z)(1) and 4-102, Annotated Code of Maryland). Thus, financial disclosure has generally been required of persons who are appointed as members of a board or commission or who otherwise have an employment relationship with an executive agency or the executive branch of State government. Since the Requestor's attorney/client relationship with the Board appears to be that of a contractor and not an employee, we conclude that the Requestor is not a public official covered by the financial disclosure provisions of the Ethics Law.
Herbert J. Belgrad, Chairman
Jervis S. Finney
Reverend John Wesley Holland
Barbara M. Steckel