House lawyer clears Ritch Workman of Uber conflict - Florida Politics

House lawyer clears Ritch Workman of Uber conflict

The Florida House of Representatives’ top lawyer cleared a member of its leadership team of any conflict of interest because he moonlights as an Uber driver.

In a Jan. 26 memo, General Counsel Matthew Carson told Rules Committee chairman Ritch Workman, “It is my opinion that there is no prohibited conflict related to you regarding the company.”

Workman, a Melbourne Republican, asked for the opinion after he began driving for ride-booking company Uber last year, wanting to know if it “presents a conflict of interest or potential voting conflict.”

There is no “indication that there is something unique or extraordinary about this business that would create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between your private interests and the performance of your public duties,” Carson wrote. “I am not aware of anything … inherent in your employment with the company that creates a conflict that would tempt dishonor.”

The day after the memo came out, Workman voted for a bill (HB 509) that regulates “transportation network companies” (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft, mandating insurance and other requirements. The House passed the bill 108-10.

“(T)he class of individuals driving for TNCs in Florida is sufficiently large, and any gain or loss to your personal business interests from passage of HB 509 would be generalized,” according to Carson. “Therefore, there would be no special private gain or loss, and no voting conflict.”

Workman had told POLITICO Florida he drives for Uber in Tallahassee when he’s in the capital on legislative business.

“I always feel I have wasted time up here at night,” Workman said. “At home, I have my wife, my kids, my ranch, my animals and my real job to occupy that free space. So when I’m not in my office or in the chamber or having dinner with a group, this is what I like to do.”

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.
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