Federal Manager's Daily Report

Ethical policies regarding acceptance of gifts by federal employees may apply to some inauguration-related events, the Office of Government Ethics has said, since “executive branch employees may receive offers of free attendance to attend Inauguration-related events, including the Inaugural Parade, Inaugural balls, receptions, dinners, and fundraisers.”

“Although generally an executive branch employee may not solicit or accept a gift from a prohibited source or a gift given because of the employee’s official position, many offers of free attendance to Inauguration-related events, whether held virtually or in-person, may fall within one of the exclusions or exceptions to the gift rules,” it said.

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Those exceptions include attendance at events that are free to the public or free to all government employees; tickets, food, drink or entertainment valued at less than $20 so long as the value from the same source does not exceed $50 in a calendar year; gifts from the government such as tickets or other inauguration-related items from members of Congress; gifts based on a personal relationship or resulting from a spouse’s work; and attendance at events that meet criteria for “widely attended gatherings.”

However, an employee still “should decline a gift if the employee determines that a reasonable person with knowledge of all relevant facts would question the employee’s integrity or impartiality if he or she accepted the gift.”

It added that “apart from the gift rules, the restrictions on fundraising apply to any fundraisers held in connection with the Presidential Inauguration.” Under those rules, employees are permitted to engage in fundraising activities in their personal capacity, but only if they: do not solicit funds or other support from a subordinate employee; do not use their official title, position, or authority associated with public office to further the fundraising effort; and do not use government resources or time in support of private fundraising efforts.

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2021 Federal Employees Handbook