Q May a school district make routine purchases from the only hardware store in the county when the store is owned by a school district employee?

A Yes. Pursuant to Section 25-4-105(3)(a), no school district employee may be a contractor, subcontractor or vendor to the school district or have a “material financial interest” in a business which is a contractor, subcontractor or vendor to the school district, subject to some narrow exceptions contained in Section 25-4-105(4). One statutory exception to this restriction in Section 25-4-105(4)(d) would allow the school district to purchase from the hardware store only if “such goods or services involved are reasonably available from two (2) or fewer commercial sources.” While mere inconvenience does not make the availability of alternative vendors unreasonable, the statutory exception codified in Section 25-4-105(4)(d), applies to this particular case, and the school district may purchase from the hardware store owned by the school district employee. (Mississippi Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 13-011-E, February 1, 2013)