THE HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE wants to ensure that holiday cheer doesn’t get to the heads of our nation’s representatives. On December 4th, it released a memo reminding members and staffers that the ban on gifts applies “at all times, even during the holiday season”. But the memo isn’t all rules and regulations: in a whimsical twist, the Committee included a lengthy holiday-themed poem. It won’t make current U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey worry for her job, but below are some of the better stanzas:
It’s the holiday season, so be of good cheer,
For soon there’ll be recess and very few here.
So let us remind you, as gifts come your way,
Please check with Ethics so you don’t go astray.
A government gift—state, local or fed?
You can accept it like the gift exception said.
The holiday gift from a foreign delegation?
If less than $350, cheers to international cooperation.
Got a gift not covered by the rules we’ve quoted?
Please call or write us, a waiver may be floated.
Getting married? A baby? On our Website you’ll find
A gift waiver form for your peace of mind.
For the whole poem, scroll to the bottom of the House memo.
As the poem points out, there are 23 exceptions to the House ban on gifts (and another 24 on the Senate side, equaling a whopping 47 exceptions). So all is not lost for for lawmakers and staffers worried about accepting gifts, and, for that matter, lobbyists willing to give them.