The Code of Ethics includes provisions that regulate some activities of public officials and employees after they have left state or municipal service. The following information provides some general guidance on the various provisions of the Code that address such post-employment activities. Former public officials and employees with questions about post-employment issues can call the Ethics Commission at (401)-222-3790 or request an advisory opinion in writing, which includes a complete statement of the relevant facts, any relevant time constraints, the reason for requesting the opinion and the signature of the individual making the request. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-11 and Commission Regulation 1024.
Appearing Before Your Former Agency:
Several provisions within the Code of Ethics place limitations on former public officials and employees appearing before their former agency after exiting public service. In general, after leaving state or municipal service, a person may not represent themselves, represent any other person, or act as an expert witness before their former agency for a period of one year after officially severing employment or service with that former agency. In some circumstances, the Ethics Commission may grant a "hardship" exception and allow such representation in a formal advisory opinion issued by the Commission. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(e)(4) and Regulations 36-14-5015 and 36-14-5016. See also A.O. 2008-6 (opining that a former Senior Medical Care Specialist for the Department of Human Services (“DHS”) was not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from accepting a job offer in a social work position at the Jean Jugan Residence, notwithstanding the fact that the pending position would require making referrals for the medical assistance eligibility review of residents to DHS, provided that she did not represent those residents, her employer, or anyone else before DHS for one year subsequent to her separation from public employment, and that, furthermore, her interactions with DHS on behalf of these residents for the first year following her official severance date from public employment may only be ministerial, and not substantive, in nature).
Several provisions of the Code of Ethics prohibit public officials and employees from using or disclosing confidential information acquired during the course of, or by reason of, their official duties or employment, for financial gain. These prohibitions continue after an official or employee has severed from service. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-5(b)-(d). See also A.O. 2008-2 (opining that former the Associate Director of the Department of Children, Youth and Families (“DCYF”) was not prohibited by the Code of Ethics from authoring a response to a request for proposals (“RFP”) issued by the Department of Human Services (“DHS”), notwithstanding the fact that the RFP called for the creation of a network of residential care providers for youth, some of whom were in the custody of or otherwise involved with DCYF, provided that, amongst other things, he did not use any confidential information he obtained while working for DCYF for financial gain).
Employment with Other State/Municipal Agencies or From Your Former Board:
The Code of Ethics places a number of restrictions on former state and municipal officials and employees seeking employment within the first year of severing from public service. The nature of the restriction varies depending on whether the person was a state or municipal official, an elected or appointed official, or a state or municipal employee. For specific guidance, see the applicable portion of the Code, but in general, for the first year following severance from service: