Conflict of Interest under the 1981 Law

Reference Number: 
CTAS-911
In 2021, the Legislature enacted Public Chapter 472, effective May 18, 2021. The County Financial Management System of 1981 now contains a conflict of interest provision much like Tenn. Code Ann. § 12-4-101, the general conflict of interest statute.
 
Tenn. Code Ann. § 5-21-121 now provides in part:
 
(a) The director, purchasing agent, members of the committee, members of the county legislative body, other officials of the county, members of the board of education, members of the highway commission, and employees of the finance department and purchasing department shall not have a direct interest in the purchase of supplies, materials, equipment, or contractual services for the county.
(b)  No firm, corporation, partnership, association or individual furnishing any such supplies, materials,  equipment or contractual services, shall give or offer, nor shall the director or purchasing agent or any assistant or employee accept or receive directly or indirectly from any person, firm, corporation, partnership or association to whom any contract may be awarded, by rebate, gift or otherwise, any money or other things of value whatsoever, or any promise, obligation or contract for future reward or compensation.
 
"Direct interest" means a contract with a person personally or with a business in which the person is the proprietor, a partner, or the person having the controlling interest in the business. "Controlling interest" means sufficient ownership in a business or company to control policy and management, including the ownership or control of the largest number of outstanding shares owned by any single individual in a business or company.
 
In addition to direct interests, those individuals named in the statute can not have an indirect interest in the purchase of supplies, materials, equipment, or contractual services for the county unless the person publicly acknowledges the interest. A person who is not a member of a governing body and who is required to publicly acknowledge an indirect interest must do so by reporting the interest to the office of the county mayor to be compiled into a list that must be maintained as a public record. As used in this statute, "indirect interest" means a contract in which a person is interested, but not directly so, and includes contracts where the person is directly interested and is the sole supplier of goods or services in the county.