Questions of Note include samplings of informal guidance inquiries received by Board of Ethics’ staff from City employees, officers, and other stakeholders.
1. Does Section 20-610 require a City form filer to disclose gifts received during the reporting year, but after they left City service?
- Yes. Filers must disclose the source, value, and circumstances of any gift over $200 in value received during the reporting year. This applies to the entire reporting year, even if the gift was received after the filer was no longer a City officer or employee.
2. May a City employee provide free consulting services to their church regarding a project involving the church and the employee’s City department?
- Yes, subject to some limitations. So long as the City employee is not compensated by the church and is not an officer or director, there would not be a conflict of interest under either City nor State law. The City employee cannot, however, represent the church in any interactions with the City, such as attending nonpublic meetings or testifying on behalf of the church at a hearing. Additionally, the City employee cannot share confidential information obtained through their City work with the church.
3. May a City employee speak about their employment duties and responsibilities at an event hosted by the local chapter of a partisan political group?
- No. Section 10-107(4) of the Charter prohibits City appointed officers and employees cannot “take any part in the management or affairs of any political party, partisan political group or political campaign.” This would include speaking at an event hosted by a partisan political group, even if the employee does not intend the content of their speech to support or oppose that group’s political aims. City employees are also prohibited from engaging in political activity while on duty, using City resources, or using their City title or position. Where a City employee is asked to speak about their City position and responsibilities, they would necessarily be appearing in their official capacity and would be using their City title and status.
4. Does the exception for City employees to accept free attendance at events that benefit the City and are related to their official duties permit an employee to accept more than one ticket so that they may bring a guest?
- Generally, no. The exception in Code Section 20-604(3)(k) applies to gifts that “benefit the City and [are] reasonably related to the officer’s or employee’s official duties or expertise.” A City employee can may accept a ticket under this exception if (1) their attendance as a City representative benefits the City and (2) they receive prior approval. It would not permit them to accept a second ticket since, absent an unusual situation, the attendance of a guest would not carry a benefit for the City.
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