Note: The following information is subject to change, following the enactment of Title 19, NYCRR, Part 933, Gift Regulations for Public Officers, on June 18, 2014. These regulations, which supersede the Interim Advisory on Gifts to the extent that they are inconsistent with this Part, are available on the JCOPE site at www.jcope.ny.gov/about/laws_regulations.html. Updates will be posted here as soon as possible after they are provided by the Office of Human Resources.
Under the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) Advisory Opinion 08-01, employees are prohibited from soliciting or accepting gifts of more than nominal value when it may be reasonably inferred that the gift:
JCOPE enacted the Public Integrity Reform Act (PIRA), Chapter 399 of the Laws of 2011 and issued an Interim Advisory on Gifts (PDF) in December 2011. Title 19, NYCRR, Part 933, Gift Regulations for Public Officers, was enacted on June 18, 2014.
Specifically, the Public Integrity Reform Act amended the definition of “gift” in two ways:
Purchase College employees must adopt an attitude and mode of operation that is above criticism and avoid any type of conduct that would give any suggestion of a conflict of interest. A gift may be in many forms, such as money, service, loan, travel, lodging, meals, refreshments, entertainment, or discounts. The value of a gift is the retail cost to purchase it; the value of a ticket entitling you to food, refreshments, entertainment, etc. is the face value of the ticket; if no value is indicated, the value is the actual cost to the giver.
The underlying principle is the same for multiple gifts, even of nominal value, from a single source given over a 12-month period. Employees “must strive to avoid creating any appearance that would suggest that they are being improperly influenced in discharging their public responsibilities by refusing multiple nominal gifts from the same donor.”
The offer of reciprocity, or even actual reciprocity, does not reduce the value of a gift given to you. You may not designate a friend, family member, or entity (for example, a charity) to receive a gift that you cannot receive.
The full text of Public Officers Law §73 and §74 is available on the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics site.
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