Conflict of Interest Questionnaire
TO ALL VENDORS CONDUCTING BUSINESS WITH THE CITY OF MESQUITE
RE: DISCLOSURE OF CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICERS; PROVIDING PUBLIC ACCESS TO CERTAIN INFORMATION
Chapter 176 is a relatively new ethics law that was enacted by HB 914 in 2005. It requires certain local government officials to disclose employment and business relationships with vendors who conduct business with local government entities. After the law was implemented, city officials and others realized that it created several unintended consequences. Consequently, the bill’s author sought an opinion from The Texas Attorney General to clarify many provisions of Chapter 176. In response, the Attorney General’s Office released Opinion Number GA-0446, which indicated that changes to the law would be desirable. In response, the legislature passed HB 1491 during the 2007 regular legislation session. The bill became effective on May 25, 2007.
Chapter 176 defines a “vendor” as any person who enters or seeks to enter into a contract with the city. The term also includes an agent of a vendor.
Local government officers subject to this law are a city council member, director, superintendent, administrator, president, city manager, or any other person who is designated as the executive officer of the local government entity. A municipal officer’s family member would include the officer’s spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or step-child.
The law applies to any written contract for the sale or purchase of real property, goods, or services. A contract for services would include one for skilled or unskilled labor, or for professional services.
A vendor is required to file a conflict of interest questionnaire if the vendor has a business relationship with the city and has:
1) an employment or other business relationship with an officer or an officer’s family member that results in that person receiving taxable income that is more than $2,500 in the preceding twelve months; or
2) has given an officer or an officer’s family member one or more gifts totaling more than $250 in the preceding twelve months.
A vendor is required to file a questionnaire not later than the seventh business day after the later of the following:
1) the date the vendor begins discussions or negotiations to enter into a contract with the city or submits an application or response to a bid proposal; or
2) the date the vendor becomes aware of a relationship or gives a gift to an officer or officer’s family member.
State law requires that you file an updated completed questionnaire with the appropriate filing authority not later than September 1 of the year for which an activity described in Section 176.006(a), Local Government Code, is pending and not later than the 7th business day after the date the originally filed questionnaire becomes incomplete or inaccurate.