Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1997-18

Advisory Opinion No. 1997-18
Advisory Opinion No. 1997-18

Effect of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6
on Gifts to the State of Consulting Services

Sections 1 and 6 of the June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 amend the definition of goods or services provided to the state which qualify as an exclusion to the definition of a gift. Currently, this gift to the state exclusion applies to goods or services to the state which facilitate state action or function. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79(e)(5), 1-91(g)(5). Effective January 1, 1998, such gifts must also be (i) for use on state property, or (ii) to support an event or participation by a public official or state employee at an event. See June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6, 1,6. State property is defined to mean (i) property owned by the state, or (ii) property leased to an agency in the executive or judicial department of the state. Id. Catherine Nasto, Commission Attorney, has asked whether gifts of computer time or space will still be allowed as a gift to the state, after the effective date of the bill.

The additional requirements provide safeguards to ensure that donations of either physical property and/or cash contributions to support an event will be properly used for a legitimate state function or use. This will not preclude the donation of consulting services or specifically the use of computer time or space. The end product of consulting work which will facilitate a state action or function may be donated to the state and still qualify as exception to the gift definition, as long as the product is implemented and used by a state servant in his or her state office. For example, a consultant may develop a software product on his or her personal computer and then donate this product to be used on a state-owned computer system. Similarly, the use of computer time or space may be donated, as long as the information garnered is to be used for a legitimate state action or function by a state servant in his or her state office or on state property (e.g. a state-owned laptop computer). Furthermore, where such computer information is accessed is not relevant, i.e. a legislator may check his or her state web page from his or her home computer without violating the intent of this provision, because such information will be ultimately used by the public official for legislative purposes performed at the State Capitol.

By order of the Commission,

Maurice FitzMaurice
Chairperson



Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:02:03 AM