Appointments of Public Officials to Compensated Positions

Members of public agencies such as counties, cities and special districts frequently appoint members of their governing bodies to serve as an officer of the body of which he or she is a member, or to a committee, board or commission of a public agency, special district, joint powers agency or authority, or a metropolitan planning organization. Many times the appointment includes a salary or stipend for the appointed public official.

Until just recently, public officials were prohibited by the Political Reform Act from participating in decisions to appoint themselves to positions on boards where they would be compensated by more than $250 in a 12 month period. The rationale behind the prohibition was that a conflict of interest was created as it was reasonably foreseeable that the appointments had a material financial effect on the public official’s personal finances.

In March of this year, the Fair Political Practices Commission (“FPPC”) voted to adopt an amendment to California Code of Regulation, Title 2, Section 18705.5. The new regulation now clearly authorizes public officials to vote on their own appointments to compensated positions on various types of boards as long as certain conditions are met.

Before a public official may participate in a decision to appoint him or herself to a compensated position, Section 18705.5 requires a new Form 806 be adopted by the public agency and posted on its website. Form 806, adopted by the FPPC in May, requires the public agency to list the following: (1) each appointed position for which compensation is paid; (2) the salary or stipend for each appointed position; (3) the name of the public official who has been appointed to the position and the name of the public official, if any, who has been appointed as an alternate; and (4) the term of the position.

The FPPC recommends that each public agency prepare and adopt a Form 806 identifying all of the current paid appointments as soon as possible. Public officials may not be able to participate in a decision to appoint him or herself to a compensated position until the Form 806 is adopted and posted. In addition, the Form 806 will need to be updated from time to time to reflect new appointments.

Form 806 is a public record available for inspection and reproduction by members of the public.

Heather Whitham

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