Turkey Day Tips: A Travel Ethics Crash-Course

Today is the most traveled day of the year.  Traffic will be a nightmare, airline waits will be treacherous (especially considering the proposed boycott of airport security scanners), and everyone may be a little more uptight.  It may seem like the time to cut corners wherever possible to save time and expense, but beware of the following travel pitfalls, or you could find yourself gobbling for mercy:

  • If you’re a lobbyist and your new staffer girlfriend is coming home to meet the parents for the first time, you can NOT pay for her ticket.  If you’ve been dating awhile or are engaged, there is a “personal friend” or “significant other” (Senate only) exemption.  You will still need to get pre-approval from ethics committee if the trip will cost over $250.  The pre-approval is confidential, but very essential.
  • The new girlfriend can, however, partake in the Thanksgiving feast — as long as you have a relatively large family — because the holiday meal is a widely-attended event.
  • Make sure that any gift you give her while gone is filed on the LD-203!  (Unless of course you get engaged over the holiday, in which case fiancees are permitted to give gifts without disclosure.)
  • If using the personal friendship exemption for anything, you must be able to prove a history of gift exchange between you, not give any gifts related to any official duties, not submit any expenses for reimbursement by your employer, not count the gifts as an exemption.

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