Tuesday Ethics Tip: New Year’s Eve Fundraisers

New Year’s Eve provides a good fundraiser occasion. ¬†Virtually no one wants to sit at home, and people are willing to pay to see and be seen as the ball drops on Times Square.

The gift rules for food and entertainment still apply to members of Congress and their staff at charity events and fundraisers.

For charity and political fundraisers, the value of a ticket for Congressional members is the cost of the meal. Note that invitations should come from the event sponsor and not a lobbyist who is buying a ticket from the sponsor to give to the Member.

Other rules of thumb for charity and political fundraisers:

  • When listing Congressmen as honorary hosts, make sure that if a member of the House, other non-House members are also listed as honorary hosts.
  • Representatives from the House can neither be honored nor offered an exclusive ceremonial role not offered to others; Senators may be honored if the title as Senator is excluded and the charity is not receiving any money from a lobbying entities earmarked for the event.
  • Invitations must come from the organization, not individual lobbyists.
  • Meals are allowed.
  • Entertainment can be provided, as long as it is offered to all attendees. ¬†VIP sessions for the member/staffer are not permissible.
  • No tangible gift or goodie bags may be provided.

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