Holiday Gift-Giving: New Jersey

12.17.2009

By: Rebecca Moll Freed

We are continuing our series on giving gifts to public officials. As a general rule of thumb, a New Jersey public official and/or employee may not accept any gift, which is intended to influence the performance of his or her official duties.  Exceptions may exist if you are a relative or close personal friend of an elected official, and depending on the branch or level of government served by the potential recipient. Executive Branch officials and employees are governed by the Uniform Ethics Code, which prohibits Executive Branch officials or employees from accepting any gift, favor, service or other thing of value related in any way to their public duties.  The New Jersey Department of Treasury recently issued guidance to state vendors, which asks all vendors to “refrain from sending any gifts or inviting state employees to any functions.” Legislative Branch officials and employees are governed by the Legislative Code of Ethics, which prohibits a member of the New Jersey Legislature from receiving any gift or other thing of value from any source other than the State of New Jersey in relation to the member’s official duties.  If you are a governmental affairs agent, you may not give a member of the Legislature gifts totaling more than $250 in the aggregate during a calendar year or any gift of lesser value intended to influence a legislator’s official duties.  Not sure whether you are up to speed on the Legislative Code of Ethics?  You can take the New Jersey Legislature’s Ethics Tutorial here. Local government officials and employees are governed by the Local Government Ethics Law, which requires a local government official to annually disclose each source of gifts, reimbursements or prepaid expenses having an aggregate value exceeding $400 in a calendar year.  Although local government officials may accept gifts under certain circumstances, no local government official may accept any gift given or offered for the purpose of influencing him/her, directly or indirectly, in the discharge of his/her official duties. The Uniform Ethics Code, the Legislative Code of Ethics and the Local Government Ethics Law provide general guidance on gift-giving to Executive, Legislative and local government officials and employees.  State agencies and localities may additionally have their own Codes of Ethics in effect.

Tag: New Jersey