Rules for Missouri Fire Protection Districts - Page 16

XV. Nepotism: Do Not Appoint Relatives

Parenthetical numbers in the text refer to sections of the current Revised Statutes of Missouri, abbreviated as RSMo.

The constitution

The Missouri Constitution, in Article VII, Section 6, is direct and to the point on the matter of nepotism: “Any public officer or employee in this state who by virtue of his office or employment names or appoints to public office or employment any relative within the fourth degree, by consanguinity or affinity, shall thereby forfeit his office or employment.” In other words, an official or public employee who appoints a relative loses his or her own office or job. This happens at the time the appointment is made, even if the appointment is to an unpaid position.

The section forbids appointment of close relatives. An official who recuses from voting when a relative is under consideration violates nothing. A person would not be in violation if elected to a position that a relative held previously by election or appointment. Siblings can be on the board, as long as the voters do the appointing. However, if a director votes to hire his or her child, or any relative within the fourth degree, to work in the office, the director’s job is forfeited, though the improperly appointed relative would keep the position. If the rest of the board were to hire the director’s relative for the same job, there would be no violation. It is the use of an official position to appoint a relative that is prohibited.

Degrees of relationship

All relatives have a common ancestor. Degrees of relationship are calculated by counting from one relative back to the common ancestor, then forward to the other relative. First cousins, for example, the children of siblings, would be related in the fourth degree: from A to parent (1) to grandparent (2) to B’s parent (3) to B (4). Sisters would be related in the second degree: from one sister to the parent (1) to the other sister (2).

Consanguinity and affinity

For more information on consanguinity, see the relationships chart on the website of the Missouri Ethics Commission: https://www.mec.mo.gov/WebDocs/PDF/Misc/RelationshipChart.pdf

Consanguinity and affinity are fancy ways of saying, “by blood or by marriage.” A daughter and daughter-in-law count exactly the same. Spouses count as a unit, so that relatives of either are equivalent relatives of both. Whether ex-relatives are considered still related is unclear. The following figure shows three degrees of consanguinity and affinity from a director.