The decision of Board of Public Utilities Commissioner Joseph L Fiordaliso to recuse himself on issues relating to Verizon or Cablevision was required by the BPU Code of Ethics. His son, Joseph Fiordaliso, Jr., has recently joined Tonio Burgos and Associates, which lobbies industries regulated by the BPU. Earlier this week, the elder Fiordaliso sent out an e-mail plugging his son’s new position.
II. CONDUCT The competitiveness of the regulated utility industry warrants the utmost safeguards be employed by the Board to preserve the public trust. Accordingly, if a relative of a Commissioner or employee has made it known that he/she is engaged in any business with an interested party he/she must notify the Ethics Liaison Officer to determine whether or not he/she must recuse him/herself from participation in matters before the Board. At times it may be appropriate for a Commissioner or employee to recuse him/herself from all matters pertaining to an industry wherein a relative is employed if a sufficient nexus is established between the financial interests of the regulated entity and the functions of the Board. A. A Commissioner or Board employee shall not: 1. Knowingly act in any way that might reasonably be expected to create an impression among the public that he or she may be engaged in conduct that violates is or her trust as a Commissioner or Board employee. 2. Act in his or her official capacity in any matter in which the Commissioner or employee or any cohabitant or relative, has a direct or indirect financial interest that might reasonably be expected to impair his or her objectivity or independence of judgment on any matter before the Board, or in the exercise of his/her official duties. 3. Commissioners and Board employees shall receive a copy of a list of Prohibited Financial Transactions upon their employment and shall acknowledge receipt of same by executing a written acknowledgment which shall be returned by the employee to the Ethics Liaison Officer. The Ethics Liaison Officer shall keep a copy of the acknowledgements on file. [See also IX. B. 3a, page 22] 4. The Prohibited Financial Transactions List will be available to the Commissioners and all Board employees on the Boards Intranet site. B. Recusal Required: 1. When a Commissioner or Board employee has a financial interest, direct or indirect, that is incompatible with the discharge of the Commissioner or Board employees public duties; or 2. When a Commissioner or Board employee has any personal interest, direct or indirect, that is incompatible with the discharge of the Commissioner or Board employees public duties. (a) An incompatible financial or personal interest includes, but is not limited to, outside employment; a debtor/creditor relationship; a fiduciary relationship; a source of income; any matter pertaining to a relative or cohabitant; a relationship with a person providing funds, goods or services without compensation; any matter pertaining to a business associate or business investment; a matter where the Commissioner or Board employee is an officer of a professional, charitable, educational, non-profit or trade organization which interest might reasonably be expected to impair a Commissioner or Board employee objectivity and independence of judgment in the exercise of his/her official duties or might reasonably be expected to create an impression or suspicion among the public having knowledge of his or her acts that he or she may be engaged in conduct violative of his or her trust as a Commissioner or Board employee. (N.J.A.C. 19:61-7.4) b) In reviewing the issue of recusal, the Ethics Liaison Officer will consider the position held by the cohabitant or relative employed by the interested party; the position held by the Board employee; and any other factors relevant to the determination whether or not recusal is appropriate. C. Recusal Process (1) If a Commissioner or Board employee finds or is advised by agency counsel or the agency Ethics Liaison Officer, that an incompatible financial or personal interest exists on a matter, the Commissioner or Board employee must recuse himself or herself from that matter or seek advice from the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards. The recusal must be absolute, that is, the Commissioner or Board employee must have no involvement with the matter from which he or she has recused himself or herself. (2) The following procedures must be followed: a. To the extent feasible, meeting materials involving a matter from which the Commissioner or Board employee must recuse himself or herself should not be distributed to the Commissioner or Board; b. At the subject meeting, the Commissioner or Board employee must place his or her recusal and the reason for such recusal on the record prior to any discussion of the matter; and c. The Commissioner or Board employee must leave the room at a non-public portion of the meeting while the matter in question is under discussion.