Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1997-7

Advisory Opinion No. 1997-7
Advisory Opinion No. 1997-7

Itemization Of An Expenditure For The Benefit Of A
Public Official When The Cost Of The Event Is Partially Paid
For By The Public Official Recipient

Lobbyist financial reports must include a statement of each expenditure of ten dollars or more per person for each occasion made by the reporting registrant or a group of registrants for the benefit of a public official in the legislative or executive branch, a member of his staff or immediate family, itemized by date, beneficiary, amount and circumstances of the transaction. Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-96(b), 1-96(e). Whenever the occasion or transaction has been paid for by a group of registrants or is reported by a business organization on behalf of its registrants, the statement shall include the percentage of the expenditure paid by each reporting registrant and the names of the other registrant payors. Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, 1-92-48(b). On occasion, a group of registrants may join a public official for a meal at a restaurant. The public official will then contribute to the cost of this meal. The Commission has been asked how a registrant must report such an event when the cost is partially paid for by the public official recipient.

In a prior advisory opinion, the Commission ruled that if consideration is tendered by the recipient and accepted by the registrant, the value of the item to the recipient is reduced by the amount of the consideration. State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 90-25 (Amended), 52 Conn. L.J. No. 24, p. 1C, Dec. 11, 1990). Furthermore, the registrant’s full expenditure, together with any reimbursement, must be reported in detail, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-96, in the next required filing whenever the total expenditure after reimbursement exceeds the itemization threshold. Id.

Consequently, the partial payment made by the public official should be treated like any other reimbursement. The registrant should take the total cost of the meal and calculate the per person cost. The public official’s payment should also be divided by the number of individuals in attendance. This amount, subtracted from the total per person cost, will be the value received by the recipient public official. If this amount is ten dollars or more, the registrant must itemize the event, as required by 1-96 and 1-92-48(b). If the benefit received is less than ten dollars, the registrant need not itemize the occasion on its financial report. It should be noted, however, unless reimbursement is paid in full, the amount of the benefit counts toward the Code’s annual limitation on gifts and/or food and beverage. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79a, 1-84(j), 1-97(a).

By the Order of the Commission,

Maurice FitzMaurice

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