Rules for Missouri Ambulance Districts
In ordinary language, the conflict-of-interest law prohibits officials from doing business with themselves (105.450–466). It says officials may not be paid or receive anything of value for official actions, beyond the statutory salary. Nor may they use information gained in an official capacity to benefit them or another, or official acts to benefit spouse or children (105.452; 576.050). These rules cover elected officials and all public employees.
The prohibitions in the conflict-of-interest law not only cover the time a person serves in office or works for a public entity but also extend for a year afterward. This “follow-on ban” covers actions that could influence decisions of the AD, or dealing in a business with any matter that came before the AD while the person was in office or working there.
Working for or renting to the AD
The law limits any paid work for the AD by an appointed official to $500 per transaction and $5,000 per year beyond the official’s regular salary. Rent, sale or lease of property is limited to the same amounts (105.454). Keep in mind that the dollar limit is firm, regardless of circumstances. Above $5,000, any official’s work is unpaid, period.
An exception is provided when a competitive bid is taken and the official’s bid is lowest (105.454). Board members are prohibited from working for the AD for pay, but may sell, rent or lease within dollar limits upon lowest bid. It is important to note that in this exception, the language is not the “lowest and best” but the absolute low-dollar bid. (Lowest bid means that there were at least three bids because if only two bids were required the word “lower” would have been used in the statute instead of “lowest.”) Also keep in mind that if a bid is considered, the official submitting that bid must not vote on the award, or the contract, if awarded to the official.
Officials’ business interest
The law likewise limits businesses with which an official or an official’s family members are affiliated to the $500 per transaction, $5,000 per year maximum. Having substantial interest in a business is defined as the official or family member owning 10% or more, having an interest worth $10,000 or more, or drawing $5,000 or more annual salary (105.450). For example, if the board president’s spouse works at a local restaurant and is paid over $5,000 per year, the president has a substantial interest in that restaurant, and the AD annual training dinner should be held somewhere else.
The first conviction for violating the conflict-of-interest law is a Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine (105.478). Every additional o?ense is a Class D felony, with a maximum punishment of seven years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine (105.478).
Other serious offenses with which AD officials can be charged include bribery (576.010), acceding to corruption (576.020), obstructing government operations (576.030), and official misconduct (576.040).
There are other actions that, although not illegal, may get an AD official convicted in the court of public opinion. flying in fresh lobster and caviar for that annual training dinner might get you in the same hot water as the lobster! And do not forget the unwritten law of being frugal with public money — how much chrome is needed on that new ambulance?
Officials and director candidates of an AD that has a budget of $1 million or more are required to fill out a financial Disclosure Statement for Political Subdivisions form and file it with the Missouri Ethics Commission unless the AD biennially adopts an ordinance, order or resolution by Sept. 15 of the preceding year to establish its own public method of disclosure that fulfills the law (105.483). A certified copy of the ordinance, order or resolution must be sent to the Missouri Ethics Commission within ten days of its adoption.
For ADs that have a budget of $1 million or more and do not have their own public method of disclosure, the law prescribes filing deadlines (105.487):
- Candidates no later than 14 days of filing for election;
- Officials within 30 days of initial election, appointment, or employment; and
- Officials annually by 5 p.m. on May 1; however, only one statement per year.
The penalties for failing to disclosure, or untimely disclosure, can be expensive and can lead to removal from the ballot or removal or suspension from office (105.492; 105.963.3).