Holiday Gift-Giving: Federal

December 21, 2009

We've reached our final installment on our series on gift-giving.  This post will cover gift-giving to federal officials and employees. The House of Representatives and Senate rules governing the acceptance of gifts and other benefits cover their Members, officers and employees.  A Member, officer or employee may accept a gift worth less than $50, subject to an annual limit from any one source of $99.99. There are exceptions to the gift restrictions under both the House and Senate rules as well, including gifts based on personal friendship and items of nominal value.  The House and Senate rules define nominal value to be $10. Registered lobbyists and entities that retain or employ lobbyists are banned from giving gifts of any value to Members of Congress and Congressional staff, and the acceptance of such gifts is also banned. Executive branch employees are subject to restriction on the gifts that they may accept as well.  Generally they may not accept gifts that are given because of their official positions or that come from certain interested sources (“prohibited sources”) such as persons who:
  • Are seeking official action by the employee’s agency;
  • Are doing or seeking to do business with the employee’s agency;
  • Are regulated by the employee’s agency; or
  • Have interests that may be substantially affected by performance or non-performance of the employee's official duties.
Again, there are a number of exceptions to the ban on gifts.  These exceptions would allow the acceptance of gifts such as gifts having an aggregate value of $20.00 or less per source per occasion, subject to an annual limit of $50.00 from a single source and gifts based on a personal relationship. Executive branch full-time, non-career appointees – typically appointed by the President or Vice-President – are prohibited from accepting any gifts from federally-registered lobbyists pursuant to the Executive Order on Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel, issued by President Obama.

Tag: Federal