REQUESTED BY: William F. Austin, Lincoln City Attorney, County-City Building, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
QUESTION: Does the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act prohibit a municipality from establishing financial disclosure requirements for its officials?
In the request for advisory opinion dated January 30, 1980, it is stated that the City Attorney has been requested to draft a financial disclosure ordinance which would require elected city officials and members of the administrative boards and commissions of the city to file statements with the City Clerk disclosing sources of income and percentages of income from each source. The questions presented are: (1) Given the fact that city officials are not among the innumerated officials covered by Section 49-1493, may the city pass an ordinance establishing its own financial disclosure requirement, and (2) if the city is not free to do so, could it establish requirements which are identical to the provisions set forth in Section 49-1493 et seq.?
Section 49-14,138 provides:
No political subdivision or municipality within the state of Nebraska in which candidates for their elective offices or elected officials are subject to the requirements of (the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act) shall require compliance with local provisions governing campaign receipts and expenditures or financial disclosures which are different from those established by (the Act).
Candidates for municipal elective offices and elected municipal officials are subject to the campaign finance provisions of the Act, and elected municipal officials as well as municipal employees are subject to the requirements of the Act prohibiting certain conflicts of interest set forth in Section 49-14,101 and 49-14,102. In fact, all public officials and employees, regardless of whether they are state or subdivision officials or employees, are subject to at least some of the requirements of the Act but not necessarily the campaign finance or the financial disclosure provisions. Municipal officials and employees are not innumerated in Section 49-1493, which sets forth the public officials and employees who are required to file Statements of Financial Interests, nor are they subject to the provisions of Section 49-1499 requiring the filing of statements of potential conflict.
Under these circumstances, we think that the proper construction of Section 49-14,138 is that no political subdivision or municipality within the state of Nebraska in which candidates for their elective offices or elective officials are subject to the campaign receipts and expenditures or the financial disclosure requirements of the Act shall require compliance with local provisions governing campaign receipts and expenditures or financial disclosures which are different from those established by the Act. Since candidates for municipal office and elected municipal officials are not subject to the financial disclosure requirements of the Act, it is the opinion of the commission that Section 49-14,138 is not a prohibition to a municipality adopting an ordinance not only requiring candidates for its elective offices or its elected officials to file disclosures of financial interests but requiring disclosures which may be different from those established by the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act.
With respect to members of administrative boards and commissions of the City of Lincoln who are not elected, Section 49-14,138 is not a prohibition in any sense since it applies only to candidates for elective office and elected officials.
We note that the members of the planning commission are members of a city-county joint planning commission and therefore by reason of being county planning commissioners are required to file Statements of Financial Interests and Statements of Potential Conflict pursuant to Section 49-1493 and 49-1499. However, since they are not elected officials or candidates for elective office, Section 49-14,138 is not a prohibition against the City of Lincoln requiring additional and different financial interests disclosures from the members of that commission.