Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1997-28

Advisory Opinion No. 1997-28
Advisory Opinion No. 1997-28

Effect Of June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 On Attendance
At Charitable And Civic Events

Sections 1 and 6 of the June 18 Special Session Public Act No. 97-6 provide for an exception to the definition of a gift contained in Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79(e)and 1-91(g). Effective January 1, 1998, a gift shall not include "admission to a charitable or civic event, including food and beverage provided at such event, but excluding lodging or travel expenses, at which a public official or state employee participates in his official capacity, provided such admission is provided by the primary sponsoring entity". Brenda Bergeron, State Ethics Commission Principal Attorney, has asked what qualifies as a "charitable or civic" event.

In a prior State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion, the Commission considered application of the gift rules to gifts which contained a charitable component. See Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 91-15, 52 CLJ No. 51, p. 2C (June18, 1991). In that opinion, the Commission recognized the charitable component for the ticket price to an event by excluding it from the total gift amount received, if it would qualify as a tax deductible charitable contribution pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code. Id. Therefore, for purposes of this new section, a charitable event will continue to be an event which benefits an entity which is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a charity to which contributions would be tax deductible.

Similarly, the rationale for including civic events was to enable public officials to attend functions organized by their local community groups, such as rotary club and chamber of commerce meetings. A civic event, therefore, is an event which is held by a community group established to promote municipal activities or common goals of citizens within the community. (See, The American Heritage Dictionary 277 (2nd ed. 1985) definition of "civic" which is "of, pertaining to, or belonging to a city, a citizen, or citizenship; municipal or civil." "Civil" is defined as pertaining to citizens and their relations with the state or of ordinary citizens or ordinary community life.)

By order of the Commission,

Maurice FitzMaurice

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