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Airports
Federal Aid
Malfeasance
Public Officers
State Aid
 

Where municipality enters into agreement with
member of its own airport commission in the
furtherance of an airport project being
prosecuted under Sections 114.32 and 114.33,
Stats., under circumstances resulting in the
conviction of the member of the airport
commission for violation of Section 348.28,
Stats., such agreement is null and void and
the city has no liability thereunder, and
accordingly cannot qualify for reimbursement
from state and federal funds.

March 18, 1950.

WISCONSIN STATE AERONAUTICS COMMISSION.

You request my opinion as to

     whether expenses incurred by the city of
     Wautoma in the prosecution of the
     Wautoma municipal airport project which
     have been determined by the circuit
     court of Waushara county to be the
     result of payments by the city of
     Wautoma to a municipal official
     in violation of Section 348.28,
     Wis. Stats., are eligible expenses
     for reimbursement with state
     and federal aid.

The project in question was initiated in
accordance with Section 114.33, Stats.,
on January 20, 1948.

An agency agreement was entered into between
the city of Wautoma and your commission as
provided by Section 114.32, Stats.

As agent for the city of Wautoma and in
accordance with the agreement, your
commission arranged for the preparation
of project plans and the submission of
project application to the civil aeronautics
administration with a view toward
qualifying for federal aid.

39 OAG 114 (1950)   TOP  114  115  116  END

These plans were prepared and application
approved by the civil aeronautics
administration.

Because of the nature of the work to be
performed under the project it was decided
that the project work could best be done by
day labor, and an ordinance authorizing the
work to be done in that manner was adopted
by the city of Wautoma in accordance
with Section 62.15, Stats.

The work was begun in May of 1949 under
the immediate supervision of the city of
Wautoma airport commission.

The composition and authority of such a
commission is set forth in Section 114.14,
Stats.

One of the three members of this commission
was one A, a resident of Wautoma.

During the course of and in connection with
the project, the city of Wautoma incurred
expenses which it certified for reimbursement
to the Wisconsin State Aeronautics Commission
and for which reimbursement has been made in
accordance with the statute.

Certain requests for reimbursement involving
payments by the city of Wautoma to A for
contractual services rendered by him
in connection with the execution of
the airport project have been received
by you, but have not been paid.

On August 9, 1949, your commission was
informed by the district attorney of Waushara
county that criminal action had been
commenced against A under Section 348.28,
Wis. Stats., for malfeasance in office in
connection with the obtaining of a pecuniary
interest in the contract for construction
work on said airport.

Thereafter your commission was advised by the
clerk of the circuit court for Waushara
county that A had pleaded guilty and had been
sentenced by the court on the charge of
malfeasance as a public officer.

Subsection (3) of Section 348.28, Stats.,

provides as follows:

     348.28(3)

     Any contract, to which the state or any
     county, city, village, town, school
     board or school district is a party,
     entered into in violation of the
     provisions of this section, shall be
     absolutely null and void and the state,
     county, city, village, town, school
     board or school district shall
     incur no liability whatever thereon.

The transaction which is the subject of the
claim for reimbursement by the city of
Wautoma is void. The city could incur no
liability whatever thereon under the
provisions of the malfeasance
statute quoted above.

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Your commission, therefore, cannot
grant state aid nor release federal
aid funds under the circumstances.

The statute is clear and the matter would
seem to require no further elaboration.

SGH

 
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