Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1997-26

Advisory Opinion No. 1997-26
Advisory Opinion No. 1997-26

Effect of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 Concerning
Limitations on Food and Drink to Public Officials

Section 1 of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 provides an exemption under the gift law restrictions so that public officials may accept "food or beverage or both, costing less than fifty dollars in the aggregate per recipient in a calendar year, and consumed on an occasion or occasions at which the person paying, directly or indirectly, for the food or beverage, or his representative, is in attendance." Section 1 of the Act additionally permits public officials and state employees to accept "anything having a value of not more than ten dollars, provided the aggregate value of all things provided by a donor to a recipient under this subdivision in any calendar year shall not exceed fifty dollars." State Ethics Commission Principal Attorney Brenda Bergeron has asked whether the provision of food and drink valued at under $10 must be attributable to the fifty dollar food and drink limitation or whether it may be categorized as "anything [of] value," thereby preserving the fifty dollar limitation on food and drink for those occasions on which the value of the food and drink exceeds $10.

The plain language of the Act permits the acceptance of anything valued at no more than $10. Incidentals including food and drink under $10 provided for under this provision need not be applied toward the fifty dollar food and drink exemption, which is separate and distinct. However, if the value of the food and drink exceeds $10, such amount must be attributed to the annual fifty dollar limitation for food and drink. Similarly, with respect to the consumption of food and drink under $10 at which the person paying, directly or indirectly, for the food or beverage, or his representative is not in attendance, such amount must be attributed as an incidental benefit under $10.

By order of the Commissin,

Maurice FitzMaurice
Chairperson



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