Mr. JUSTICE KARNS delivered the opinion of the court:
Defendant-appellee J.R. Simpkins was charged in two indictments with the offense of "having an interest in a contract" in violation of section 3 of the Corrupt Practices Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 102, par. 3). After a hearing, the Circuit Court of Williamson County granted defendant's motions to dismiss the indictments for failure to state an offense. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, pars. 111-3(a)(3) and 114-1(a)(8).) The State has appealed pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 110A, par. 604(a)(1)). We must determine whether the court below erred in finding that the indictments, which alleged that the defendant was mayor of the City of Hurst while his wife was employed as water department clerk of the same city, were insufficient to charge an offense.
The statute provides, in relevant part:
Section 4 of the same act, as amended, makes a violation of the act punishable as a Class 4 felony, with the additional penalty of mandatory forfeiture of office. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 102, par. 4.)
The first of the indictments at issue here charged:
The second indictment charged a violation of the same statute in that, during the same period of time, the defendant,
• 1 Although the State distinguishes between the two indictments on the basis that the former alleged that the employment of defendant's wife continued while the defendant was mayor, while the latter alleged that the employment contract originated during defendant's term, we do not find that to be a critical distinction. We agree with the court in Koons v. Richardson, 227 Ill.App. 477, 485 (4th Dist. 1923), which called it "wholly immaterial whether the contract was made before or after appellant became a city officer." If the indictments were in other respects sufficient, it would be of little moment whether the contract in which defendant had a prohibited interest originated or merely continued during his term of office, as he clearly might be called upon to act or vote on the renewal of the employment contract, modifications in salary and other terms of employment, and the like.
We do, however, have other serious questions about the sufficiency of these indictments. The primary one, a negative answer to which would mean we need not reach any of the other questions, is whether the defendant was alleged to have the kind of direct or indirect interest contemplated by the statute in his wife's employment contract with the city.
• 2 At one time, of course, this question could not even have arisen, because Mrs. Simpkins, as a married woman, could not have had a contract with the city, nor, for that matter, with anyone. At the common law, a married woman possessed no contractual capacity; her attempts to contract were absolutely void. (Forsyth v. Barnes, 228 Ill. 326, 81 N.E.
In support of its position that the financial interest of a spouse is such an interest as to come within the statute's prohibition, the State refers us to an opinion of the Illinois attorney general (1973 Op. Att'y Gen. 45), and to the case of Bock v. Long, 3 Ill.App.3d 691, 279 N.E.2d 464 (1st Dist. 1972). Relying exclusively on the Bock case, the attorney general rendered the opinion that a county board member would be indirectly interested in a contract between the county and a depository of the county's funds so as to void the contract if the board member's spouse owned stock in the depository. (1973 Op. Att'y Gen. at 50-51.) In Bock v. Long, the court held that evidence that a police officer filed with his wife a joint tax return, one schedule of which included profit or loss from the operation of a dramshop held in her name, and that the officer worked without compensation as janitor and bartender in the dramshop, was sufficient to support the determination of the board of fire and police commissioners that the officer should be discharged for violating a provision of the Liquor Control Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 43, par. 120(14)) prohibiting law-enforcing public officials, as defined, from being "interested in any way, either directly or indirectly, in the manufacture, sale or distribution of alcoholic liquor." Pecuniary interest in such an enterprise, said the court, need not be proprietary to come within the statute's prohibitions. To hold that the officer did not have such an interest "would be to close our eyes to the natural and probable sharing of assets and liabilities which constitutes a characteristic of the family unit as it is known in our society." 3 Ill.App.3d 691, 693, 279 N.E.2d 464, 466.
Without questioning the result in Bock, which was undoubtedly rightly decided, we think that its special facts, its posture on appeal, and the considerations of policy underlying the statute there involved so distinguish that case from the one at bar that it has little persuasive value. In any event, Bock — the narrow holding of which was that the decision of
• 3 Opinions of the attorney general are not binding on the courts. (People v. Savaiano, 66 Ill.2d 7, 359 N.E.2d 475 (1976); Rogers Park Post No. 108 v. Brenza, 8 Ill.2d 286, 134 N.E.2d 292 (1956).) They are, however, entitled to considerable persuasive weight, especially if they involve a question of first impression and their reasoning is persuasive. (Strat-O-Seal Manufacturing Co. v. Scott, 72 Ill.App.2d 480, 218 N.E.2d 227 (4th Dist. 1966); Alsen v. Stoner, 114 Ill.App.2d 216, 252 N.E.2d 488 (2d Dist. 1969); City of Champaign v. Hill, 29 Ill.App.2d 429, 173 N.E.2d 839 (3d Dist. 1961).) The opinion cited here by the State relies exclusively on Bock for its reasoning. It is therefore equally unpersuasive.
• 4 We think that the better view was expressed in an earlier attorney general's opinion, found at 1951 Op. Att'y Gen. 193. In response to the question whether a school board director was in violation of a statute prohibiting his having an interest in a contract made by the board (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1949, ch. 122, par. 6-14) when his wife had such a contract, the attorney general cited the Married Women's Act and continued:
As the attorney general indicated, in almost every instance when the question has been presented to the courts of the various jurisdictions, the mere fact of relationship, without more, has been held to have no disqualifying effect. (See Annot., 74 A.L.R. 792 (1931); L. Ancel, Municipal Contracts, 1961 U. Ill. L.F. 357, 365-74.) In 63 C.J.S. Municipal Corporations § 991, at 557 (1950), it is stated without qualification that a municipal officer has a sufficient interest to invalidate a municipal contract with his wife. We would not, however, read any of the four cases cited for this proposition as broadly as the encyclopedist. Sturr v. Borough of
• 5 We think none of these cases weakens the general rule that the wife's interest is not necessarily the husband's interest, provided the contract is not a mere subterfuge for his own pecuniary interest. (For an extreme example of such a subterfuge contract, see Brennan v. Purington Paving Brick Co., 171 Ill.App. 276 (1st Dist. 1912).) The rule remains that "the interest in a contract which disqualifies a public officer from executing such a contract in his official capacity * * * must be certain, definable, pecuniary, or proprietary." (Panozzo v. City of Rockford, 306 Ill.App. 443, 456, 28 N.E.2d 748, 654 (2d Dist. 1940); L.Ancel, Municipal Contracts, 1961 U. Ill. L.F. at 370, 373.) We interpret "indirect interest" to refer to the interest of the official, such as ownership of stock or a
• 6 We must return to the question whether the indictments here charged an offense. We do not think that they did. Without more specific particularization of the type of pecuniary interest defendant was alleged to have in his wife's employment contract, he had no way of knowing with what he was charged. People v. Isaacs, 37 Ill.2d 205, 212-13, 226 N.E.2d 38, 42-43 (1967); cf. People v. Adduci, 412 Ill. 621, 108 N.E.2d 1 (1952).
Our determination is reinforced by the fact that when the General Assembly has intended to forbid public bodies to contract with relatives of officials, it has had no difficulty in drafting such legislation. Note, for a few examples, section 11-1 of the Illinois Purchasing Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 127, par. 132.11-1), which makes it "unlawful for any person holding an elective office in this State * * * or who is the wife, husband or minor child of any such person" to have the prohibited interest; section 23 of the Metro-East Exposition and Performing Arts Authority Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 85, par. 1523), and section 25 of the Decatur and Danville Civic Centers Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 85, par. 1575), both of which prohibit board members, officers, employees, "and their relatives within the fourth degree of consanguinity by the terms of the civil law" from being interested directly or indirectly in contracts of the agencies involved; see also Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 63, par. 15.3, forbidding members of the General Assembly from authorizing payments for supplies or services to anyone who is the member's "spouse, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, brother, sister, first cousin, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law." (Emphasis added.)
• 7, 8 The statute under which these indictments were brought reflects the "strong public policy against self-dealing by public officials." (People v. Savaiano, 31 Ill.App.3d 1049, 1057, 335 N.E.2d 553, 559 (2d Dist. 1975), aff'd, 66 Ill.2d 7, 359 N.E.2d 475. It has been called "a classic conflict of interest statute." (United States v. Keane, 522 F.2d 534, 555-56 (7th Cir.1975).) Such statutes are merely declaratory of the common law principle making illegal contracts in which one party acts in breach of his duty of loyalty. (Panozzo v. City of Rockford; Huszagh v. City of Oakbrook Terrace, 41 Ill.2d 387, 243 N.E.2d 831 (1969); cf. Sherlock v. Winnetka, 59 Ill. 389 (1871).) As one commentator has explained the rationale,
Our supreme court has recently re-emphasized that the statute should not be given an unduly narrow reading:
• 9 Nevertheless, the purpose of all statutory construction is to give the law the effect that was intended by the legislature. (People v. Savaiano.) We have found no cases interpreting this statute which did not involve some kind of self-dealing bordering on fraud. The indictments here did not charge that the defendant did anything other than hold the office of mayor while his wife worked for the water department. We cannot believe that the General Assembly intended to make a felon of a mayor who happens to be married to someone who works for his city, a fact undoubtedly known to the citizens of Hurst. We therefore affirm the orders of the Circuit Court of Williamson County dismissing these indictments for failure to state an offense.
CARTER, P.J., and EBERSPACHER, J., concur.