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is not available to others. Any such contract would constitute a clear conflict of interest and would require quorum-court approval based upon “unusual circumstances.” Ark. AG Op. No. 2002-327


Public Policy: Te common law provides that “a public office is a public trust ... and the holder thereof may not use it directly or indirectly for personal profit, or to further his own interest, since it is the policy of law to keep an official so far from temptation as to insure his unselfish devotion to the public interest. Officers are not permitted to place themselves in a position in which personal interest may come into conflict with the duty which they owe to the public, and where a conflict of interest arises, the office holder is disqualified to act in the particular matter and must withdraw.” 67 C.J.S. Officers § 204. From AG Opinion No. 99-349. See also AG Ops. Nos. 98-275; 94-283; 94-446, citing Van Hovenberg v. Holman, 201 Ark. 370, 144 S.W.2d 719 (1940); Madden v. United States Associates, 40 Ark. App. 143, 844 S.W.2d 374 (1992); Acme Brick Co. v. Missouri Pacific R.R., 307 Ark. 363, 821 S.W.2d 7 (1991); 63A Am. Jur. 2d Public Officers and Employees § 321; Ark. AG Op. No. 2003-012.

ACA 14-14-1202(a): “PUBLIC TRUST. Te holding of public office or employment is a public trust created by the confidence that the electorate reposes in the integrity of officers and employees of county government. An officer or employee shall carry out all duties assigned by law for the benefit of the people of the county. Te officer or employee may not use his office, the influence cre- ated by his official position, or information gained by virtue of his position to advance his individual personal economic interest or that of an immediate member of his family or an associate, other than advancing strictly incidental benefits as may accrue to any of them from the enactment or administration of law affecting the public generally.”

ACA 21-8-304(a): “No public official shall use his position to

Exploring the issue of county official conflict of interest

county official cannot contract with himself or with his spouse, child, parents, or other persons standing in the first degree of relationship, or for those with whom he has a substantial financial relationship that

secure special privileges or exemption for himself, his spouse, child, parents, or other persons standing in the first degree of relationship, or for those with whom he has a substantial finan- cial relationship that is not available to others except as may be otherwise provided by law.”

ACA 14-14-1202(c)(1): “No offi- cer or employee of county government shall ... be interested, either directly or indirectly, in any contract or transac- tion made, authorized, or entered into on behalf of the county or an entity created by the county, or accept or receive any property, money, or other valuable thing, for his use or benefit on account of, connected with, or growing out of any contract or transaction of a county.

Mike Rainwater Risk Management Legal Counsel

Quorum Court Approval Permitted if Unusual Circumstanc-

es: “If the quorum court determines that it is in the best interest of the county, the quorum court may by ordinance permit the county to purchase goods or services directly or indirectly from quorum court members, county officers, or county employees due to un- usual circumstances. Te ordinance permitting such purchases must specifically define the unusual circumstances under which such purchases are allowed and the limitations of such authority. Any quorum court member having any interest in the goods or services being considered under these procedures shall not be en- titled to vote upon the approval of such goods or services. ACA 14-14-1202(c)(2)(A)&(B).

(Mike Rainwater, a regular contributor to County Lines and

lead attorney for AAC Risk Management, is principal shareholder of Rainwater, Holt, and Sexton, P.A., a state-wide personal injury and disability law firm. Mr. Rainwater has been a lawyer for over 30 years, is a former deputy prosecuting attorney, and has defended city and county officials for over 25 years.)

County Law Update 14 COUNTY LINES, FALL 2014

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