Thursday, June 14, 2012
A recent judicial ethics opinion from Florida:
Whether a judge may accept a position on the board of directors of a private not-for-profit corporation to be organized to administer “52 million DCF dollars” by contracting with one or more third parties as part of “the privatization of the DCF funds”?
The inquiring judge has been asked to serve on the board of directors of a “managing entity,” a non-profit corporation to be organized to bid for the right to administer state moneys now or recently administered by the Florida Department of Children and Family Services. Only if the bid succeeds would the managing entity “be active.”
If the bid does succeed, the managing entity “would be in essence a governing entity that would contract with a [named] vendor.”
The inquiring judge was approached because of the judge’s “extensive experience with behavioral health needs” in the judge’s community. One of the organizers also wrote that “DCF strongly wishes to have a Board of Directors made up of viable community leaders,” and that a “judge is a very strong addition to the board demographics.”
In the present case the organizers of the managing entity are explicit about their desire to use the prestige of judicial office to advance the interests both of the managing entity and of the named vendor. After explaining that the managing entity “will compete for the contract” that the Department of Children and Family Services was expected to let, the letter soliciting the inquiring judge’s participation stated: “DCF strongly wishes to have a Board of Directors made up of viable community leaders. A judge is a very strong addition to the board demographics.”