A conflict of interest is “A situation in which a person’s individual interests are in opposition to the interests of his duty to others. As an example an elected public official who owns real estate may approve a ruling or a change in zoning that would increase the value of his property.” (Quoted from The Plain Language Law Dictionary)
There are various specific laws on conflicts depending on the position held, one of the more restrictive 'rules' applies generally to Planning Commissions.
The Planning Commission (CPPA, U of U)
The work of the planning commission influences the future of a community, and through certain planning measures can have impact upon the value of property. It is therefore important that the actions and behavior of commission members are at all times legally sanctioned and completely ethical. (pg 2-15)
Conflict of Interest:
A planning commissioner to whom some private benefit may be derived as the result of a planning commission action should not be a participant in the action. (pg 2-16)
The private benefit may be direct or indirect, create a material personal gain or provide an advantage to relatives, friends or groups and associations which hold some share of a person's loyalty. (pg 2-16)
State law requires that a public official experiencing a conflict of interest declare the conflict publicly. It is strongly recommended, however, that a planning commissioner with a conflict abstain from voting on the action in question and leave the room during consideration of the action. The commissioner should not discuss the matter privately with any other commissioner. The vote cast by a planning commissioner who has a conflict of interest, but who has not excused him or herself, shall be disallowed. (pg 2-16)
********** Wasatch County has even more specific rules:
By-Laws of the Wasatch County Planning Commission
- Sect XI: (C) No member shall act or vote on any matter which he or she has a direct financial interest, which involve a conflict of interest as found in he Utah Code, or which a member cannot fairly and impartially act or vote on any matter before the Commission.
Any member declaring a conflict of interest shall be disqualified and shall leave the room and not participate in the discussion and vote pertaining to that particular matter.