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6 N.J.A.R. 340

Schnabel, Robert W.; Ethical Standards, Executive Commission on v
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Citation: 6 N.J.A.R. 340
Decision Date: 1980
Synopsis: The Executive Commission on Ethical Standards charged Robert W. Schnabel, a member of the Atlantic Coast Section of the Shell Fisheries Council of the Department of Environmental Protection and a 'special State officer', as defined by the New Jersey Conflicts of the Interest Law, with a violation of the Conflicts of Interest Law in that he voted to approve his own application for lease transfers and 'relay' leases and thus transacted business with himself in viol- ation of N.J.S.A. 52:13D-20. The administrative law judge found that testimony supported a finding that respondent did vote to approve the transfer of leases owned by himself, or his wife, to other individuals and that this undeniably constituted a conflict of interest under the common law since the respondent voted in matters in which he had a direct and personal interest. The judge did, however, conclude that the respondent had failed to violate N.J.S.A. 52:13D-16(a) in that he had not represented, ap- peared for or negotiated on behalf of any person other than the State. The judge reached this conclusion based on a determination that the respondent had not acted in the stead of, or as agent for, someone else, an element he considered necessary for a violation of the statute to have occurred. The judge determined that the Legislature had not intended this section of the act to prohibit a special State officer or employee from voting on his own application. Nevertheless, the judge concluded that by voting in favor or the transfer of leases to and from himself, the respondent had acted as an officer or agent for a State agency for the transaction of business with himself and thus had violated N.J.S.A. 52:13D-20. State of New Jersey 341 Janice C. Mironov, Deputy Attorney General, for petitioner (John J. Degnan, Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney) Howard Butensky, Esq., for respondent