(Philadelphia, October 26, 2016) – Mayor Kenney today signed an executive order that expands and clarifies restrictions on gifts to City employees in the Executive Branch. Among key changes: specifying for the first time that gifts from registered lobbyists are prohibited.
“These changes represent an important step toward the ultimate goal: a comprehensive set of guidelines for thousands of City employees who regularly interface with the public,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “By making the ground rules for those interactions clear, we can ensure the public’s trust in their government.”
The Executive Order on Gifts dates from 1961 and was last updated five years ago. It applies to all those within the Executive Branch, including the Mayor. It complements, but is stricter than, the City’s 2014 Ordinance on gifts to city workers, which applies to all branches of government. For example, the Order explicitly states that gifts from prohibited sources, no matter what the value, cannot be accepted, whereas the Ordinance permits the receipt of gifts from prohibited sources up to $99 in value per year.
“The Executive Branch is where the operations of Philadelphia government are most centered; it is, quite literally, the front line of where City Hall meets its citizens,” said the Mayor’s Chief Integrity Officer, Ellen Mattleman Kaplan. “So it’s appropriate that the rules governing gifts to those workers be tough and be clear. These changes accomplish that.”
Highlights of the new order include:
- For the first time, registered lobbyists are named as prohibited sources. Neither the existing order nor the City ordinance specifically mention lobbyists. Section 2a(2).
- It sets a time frame for certain prohibited sources. The existing order describes several types of prohibited sources, including “A Person seeking to obtain business from, or who has financial relations with, the City.” But it does not specify a time frame for those classifications, and that proved confusing. The new Executive Order specifies a 12-month period prior to the prospective gift-giving under which those prohibitions would apply, with the exception of registered lobbyists, for whom no time limitation applies. 2a(1), 2a(2).
- The Order creates a new “Gift to the City” category: Designated City employees can solicit contributions to further the City’s goals or initiatives. For example, solicitations for a fundraising campaign to benefit City libraries would be permitted. These are not considered gifts to the employee since the employee gets no private benefit. Such a gift would be permitted so long as no special treatment to the donor is promised or implied. Section 7a(4).
- And it adds provisions covering gifts between employees, including superior-subordinate gifts. New language clarifies the circumstances under which an employee may give a gift to another employee (e.g., marriage, illness, retirement or a holiday on which the exchange of gifts is customary). Section 4.