Under the Government Ethics Act, a Public Servant cannot make, participate in making, or seek to influence government decisions in which they have a financial interest. In such cases, there is a risk of biased decision-making that could sacrifice the public’s interest in favor of the official’s private financial interests. To avoid actual bias or the appearance of possible improprieties, the public official is prohibited from participating in the decision.
5 Categories of Financial Interests
- Real Property – Your real property counts as a financial interest if it is within 2 miles of Oakland’s city limits and your interest in the property is $2,000 or more. Property in which you rent on a month-to-month basis does not count as a financial interest.
- Sources of Income – You have a financial interest in any source of income of $500 or more. It includes your wages and salary, interest payments, dividends, profits from businesses you own in whole or in part.
- Business Investments, Employment, Management – Investments include stock and business ownership. You can have a financial interest in a business entity in the following ways:
- If the entity does business in Oakland and you have an investment of $2,000 or more.
- If the entity does business in Oakland and you are a director, partner, manager, officer, trustee, or employee of that entity.
- Gifts – A source of gifts, promised or received, of more than the gift limit, received in the last 12 months.
- Personal Finances – The income, assets, and expenses of your immediate family count as your financial interests. Immediate family includes your spouse and dependent children.
What to do if you have a conflict
Abstain from any involvement in a decision-making process affecting a financial interest. You must avoid not only any role in the final decision but also in all of the discussions and planning leading up to the final decision.
To avoid being involved in a decision, you should take the following steps:
- Do not discuss the matter with or influence staff or colleagues
- Publicly state the nature of the conflict at the meeting, if applicable
- (Elected officials) Leave the room