Bill To Expand Conflict Of Interest Law Governing Nonprofits Passed State Senate

Bizar Male

A bill to restrict how local elected bodies deal with nonprofit contracts, grants, loans or other appropriations has passed the state Senate by a 42-6 vote and is now before the state House.

Senate Bill 473 restricts local public officials from participating in contracts that benefit a nonprofit with which they are associated.

The bill states, “No public official shall participate in making or administering a contract, including the award of money in the form of a grant, loan, or other appropriation with any nonprofit with which that public official is associated.”

The bill also defines the terms and states, “Participate in making or administering a contract – Any of the following actions by a public official:

  1. Deliberating or voting on the contract.
  2. Attempting to influence any other person who is deliberating or voting on the contract.
  3. Soliciting or receiving any gift, favor, reward, service, or promise of reward, including a promise of future employment, in exchange for recommending, influencing, or attempting to influence the award of a contract by the political subdivision of the state with the not-for-profit with which that public official is associated.”

The bill if it becomes law would go into effect Dec. 1, 2021 and would change the way the Greensboro City Council has been dealing with contracts with nonprofit organizations.

For example, City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson is the executive director of One Step Further, which oversees the Cure Violence program in Greensboro.

While Johnson was recused from voting on the contract for Cure Violence, she was not recused from the deliberations and definitely attempted to influence the councilmembers who were deliberating and voting on the contract.

Johnson fully participated in the discussions on awarding the $500,000 contract to One Step Further and, since the initial contract was awarded in 2019, has also participated in the discussions on the renewal of the contract although once again being recused from the vote.

The bill if it becomes law would make that type of activity, which is currently legal, illegal.

The bill also expands the definition of “associated” to include unpaid positions on the governing board of a nonprofit organization.  Currently it is not uncommon for a councilmember serving on the board of a nonprofit organization to ask the City Council to financially support that organization. 

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