Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1994-10

Advisory Opinion No. 1994-10
Advisory Opinion No. 1994-10

Application Of The Gift Law To Lobbyist’s Use Of A Boat

As a result of a number of inquiries from lobbyists, Ethics Commission Staff Attorney Brenda Bergeron has asked how the valuation rules of the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79 et seq., apply when a lobbyist entertains a public official or state employee on his or her private boat.

The Codes define a gift to mean “anything of value, which is directly and personally received.”  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79(e), 1-91(g).  An outing on a boat, for example to go fishing or for a cruise, is something of value and subject to the gift and valuation rules.  If a lobbyist pays to charter a boat the value is determined by the cost charged to the lobbyist divided by the number of individuals who attended the outing.  See Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, 1-92-48(c)(1), 1-92-48(c)(6).  If the lobbyist is using his or her own boat, the value equals the fair market value of the cost of obtaining the same or similar item in a marketplace transaction divided by the number of individuals in attendance.  Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies 1-92-48(c)(2), 1-92-48(c)(6).  In other words, the lobbyist must determine how much a private charter company would charge to take out the same number of individuals on a boat of similar size and accommodations.  If the lobbyist is unable to obtain a market value, then the benefit may not be conferred.  Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies 1-92-48(c)(4).

If the lobbyist is using the boat to host a party and the boat does not leave the dock, then the use of the boat is analogous to hosting a party at any other facility.  The docking fees or rental fees would then be considered an overhead cost which is not personally and directly received by the public official or state employee and excluded from both the calculation of an expenditure for the benefit of a public official and/or the gift calculation.  Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies 1-92-54(b).

By order of the Commission,

Christopher T. Donohue
Chairperson



Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:00:43 AM