Gov. Code Section 1099 codifies the common law prohibition against the holding of “incompatible offices.” This doctrine restricts the ability of public officials to hold two different public offices simultaneously if the offices have overlapping and conflicting public duties. For this section to apply, each position must be a “public office.” (Gov. Code Section 1099(c).)
Pursuant to Section 1099, a person may not simultaneously hold two public offices if: either of the offices exercises a supervisory, auditing, or removal power over the other office or body, there is a significant clash of duties or loyalties between the offices, or there are public policy considerations that make it improper. The consequence of holding an incompatible office is that the person is “deemed to have forfeited the first office upon acceding to the second.” (Gov. Code Section 1099(b).) In addition, the California Constitution has provisions addressing the holding of two government positions.
The Attorney General's office has issued numerous opinions on the subject which are available on the Attorney General’s web site. If you have a question about whether two public offices which you hold or seek to hold would be considered incompatible offices, contact your city attorney, county counsel, or the Attorney General's office.
GOVERNMENT CODE §1099
(a) A public officer, including, but not limited to, an appointed or elected member of a governmental board, commission, committee, or other body, shall not simultaneously hold two public offices that are incompatible. Offices are incompatible when any of the following circumstances are present, unless simultaneous holding of the particular offices is compelled or expressly authorized by law:
(1) Either of the offices may audit, overrule, remove members of, dismiss employees of, or exercise supervisory powers over the other office or body.
(2) Based on the powers and jurisdiction of the offices, there is a possibility of a significant clash of duties or loyalties between the offices.
(3) Public policy considerations make it improper for one person to hold both offices.
(b) When two public offices are incompatible, a public officer shall be deemed to have forfeited the first office upon acceding to the second. This provision is enforceable pursuant to Section 803 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(c) This section does not apply to a position of employment, including a civil service position.
(d) This section shall not apply to a governmental body that has only advisory powers.
(e) For purposes of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a), a member of a multimember body holds an office that may audit, overrule, remove members of, dismiss employees of, or exercise supervisory powers over another office when the body has any of these powers over the other office or over a multimember body that includes that other office.
(f) This section codifies the common law rule prohibiting an individual from holding incompatible public offices.
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