XVI. Conflict of Interest

Parenthetical numbers in the text refer to sections of the current Revised Statutes of Missouri, abbreviated as RSMo.
What the law says

The conflict of interest law provides that officials will not do business with themselves (105.450-.466). It says officials may not be paid nor receive anything of value for official actions beyond the statutory salary; they may not use information gained in an official capacity to benefit themselves or another; and they may not use official acts to benefit spouse or children (105.452). These rules apply to elected officials and all public employees.

Working for and/or renting to the city

When an elected or appointed official does work for the city, payment beyond regular salary is limited to $500 per transaction and $5,000 per year. The rent, sale or lease of property is limited to the same amounts (105.454). An exception is allowed if an official's bid is lowest (not lowest and best, but absolute lowest dollar) in a competitive bid. Board members are prohibited from working for the city for pay (105.458), but they may sell, rent or lease within dollar limits upon low bid. The dollar limit's firm, regardless of circumstances. Any work beyond $5,000 is unpaid, period.

Officials' business interest

The law likewise limits payment of $500 per transaction and $5,000 per year to businesses affiliated with officials or officials' family members. Substantial interest in a business is defined as an official or family member owning 10 percent or more, having an interest worth $10,000 or more, or drawing $5,000 or more annual salary. For example, if the mayor's son works at Hardee's and earns more than $5,000 per year, the mayor has a substantial interest in Hardee's and the city Christmas party should probably be held somewhere else.

Complaint procedure

The Missouri Ethics Commission usually investigates complaints regarding conflicts of interest and it may refer a complaint to the county prosecutor.

Penalty for violation

The first conviction for violating the conflict of interest law is a Class B misdemeanor, maximum punishment six months' confinement, $500 fine. Every additional offense is a Class D felony, maximum punishment five years' confinement, $5,000 fine.

The bid exception

The exception above, when the officials' bid is lowest (NOTE: not lowest and best, but absolute low dollar) covers the official's work for, sale to or rental to the city.

How long does this last?

The conflict of interest law applies to those serving in office or working for a public entity a full year after they no longer hold the appointment or position. This "follow-on ban" also requires that the person doesn't influence city decisions or deal with any matter that came before the city while the person was in office or working for the city.