The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) investigates and acts on acceptance of gifts not reported on the annual Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700).
The Sacramento Bee recently reported that “[t]he California Fair Political Practices Commission is recommending penalties for 86 public officials statewide who are accused of accepting, but failing to report, gifts within the last four years.” Of the 86 accused public officials, four are Sacramento-area school officials. These officials are accused of accepting free meals from bond advisors aggregating more than $50.00, and failing to disclose receipt of the meals on their Form 700s.
Given both the heightened media scrutiny and public interest in this issue, it appears to be an appropriate time to review the gift reporting requirements of the Political Reform Act.
- If an employee and official holds a position that requires the filing of a Form 700, either under Government Code section 87200, or the agency’s conflict of interest code, the employee’s and official’s ability to accept permissible gifts is limited.
- Currently, the annual gift limit from a single source is $440.00, and any gift aggregating $50.00 or more from a single source must be disclosed on the employee’s and official’s Form 700. (Gov. Code, § 89503; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 18940.2.)
- Gifts, subject to disclosure on an employee’s and official’s Form 700, can come in many forms, such as lunches, dinners, and event tickets.
- Travel payments, such as flights, ground transportation, and hotel rooms, are subject to disclosure on the employee’s and official’s Form 700 as well.
- Employees and officials who file Form 700s can refuse to accept a gift. In the alternative, the employee and official can choose to donate the gift or submit reimbursement for the gift within 30 days of receipt.
This information is meant to serve only as a broad overview of the gift reporting requirements, and not as legal advice on a particular matter. If you have specific questions about gift reporting, or would like additional information, please contact our office.
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