Restrictions on Participation in City Matter

Sections 6-6 to 6-10 of the Ethics Law, contained in Article 8 of the City Code, restrict public servants and lobbyists from participating in certain matters.

Watch and read below to learn more.

General Prohibition

A public servant must disqualify themselves from a City matter/role if:

  • they have an interest in the matter/role;
  • they have a disqualifying relative with an interest in the matter/role; OR
  • they (or their disqualifying relative) are affiliated with a business entity that is a party to the matter, including having a financial interest in, employment or potential employment arrangement with, or existing position with (such as a partner, officer, director, trustee, employee, or agent), or a direct and/or substantial credit obligation to the business entity.

Former Lobbyists

Former lobbyists may not participate in a City case, contract, or other specific matter as an official for 1 calendar year after the termination of their lobbyist registration, if they were lobbying, on/for the matter during their time as lobbyists. 

Exception: Former lobbyists may still generally participate as board members.


The restrictions outlined above do not apply if the public servant’s involvement:

  • Is allowed by a rule, regulation, or advisory opinion of the Ethics Board;
  • Satisfies requirements for certain industry representation on boards; or
  • Is a purely “ministerial” activity – i.e., the role does not influence or affect any decision-making related to the matter involved.

Permitted Participation Despite Conflict of Interest


Despite disqualifying conflicts, a public servant may still be able to participate if:

  • Disqualification would leave a board or other body with less than a quorum capable of acting;
    • The public servant is required by law to act; or
    • The public servant is the only individual authorized to act.

A public servant must disclose the conflict to the public and the Ethics Board prior to participation.

Service on City’s Behalf

These restrictions do not apply to a public servant serving as a trustee or director of a business entity doing business with or regulated by the City as long as:

  • The City has an economic or programmatic interest in the entity; and
  • The public servant:
    • Serves as part of their official City duties, at the direction of their agency;
    • Receives no money or other payments for their service; and
    • Does not participate in any matter in which the public servant or any “disqualifying relative” has a “financial interest.”

Learn more about this exception by reading Ethics Opinion 21-005 here.


Key Terms

any person or organization engaged in any for-profit or not-for-profit business or other organized activity.

any one (1) or combination of sales, purchases, leases, or contracts that total $5,000 or more cumulatively and that are made to/from/with the City, OR to/from/with a person in connection with a City contract.

an individual’s spouse, parent, child, or sibling

ownership of a business entity (including convertible securities) that amounts to more than 3% of the entity, OR ownership of any interest that either resulted in the receipt of more than $1,000 in any one of the past three calendar years or that will result in the receipt of more than $1,000 in the current year or any future calendar year.

transfer of any thing or service of economic value without adequate consideration (i.e., without giving something of similar value in return, such as monetary payment). Does NOT include political contributions regulated under State Election Law, Title 13 (campaign finance).

legal or economic interest, regardless of encumbrance (e.g., a mortgage), that is owned or held wholly or partly, jointly or severally, or directly or indirectly.  Does not include certain financial interests, such as an insurance policy or pension.

a person who communicates with a public servant for the purpose of influencing legislative or executive action and who, in connection with that communication, expends $100 or more for gifts, incurs expenses of $500 or more, OR earns $2,500 or more in compensation.

any City elected official, head of Department, head of bureau/division, or any other individual with similar decision-making authority.  Also includes individuals with decision-making authority in quasi-judicial, regulatory, licensing, inspecting, or auditing functions.

any City official or employee.