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King County Board of Ethics

Helping employees make ethical decisions
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Gifts from Non-Profit Organizations

Advisory Opinion 91-06-1020
Gift/Presentation

ISSUE: WHETHER OR NOT AN EMPLOYEE'S RECEIPT OF A GIFT FROM THE PRESIDENT OF A NOT FOR PROFIT ORGANIZATION GIVEN IN APPRECIATION OF THE EMPLOYEES' PRESENTATION TO THE ORGANIZATION CONSTITUTES A VIOLATION OF THE KING COUNTY CODE OF ETHICS?

Opinion: After reviewing the appended letter, the information gathered through your discussions with our staff and assessing the value of the actual gift that you enclosed, it appears that the gift is one that categorically in worth '$20.00 or less' and was given for a 'bona fide, non-recurring and ceremonial occasion' fitting the exemption as indicated in Section 3.04.017 G of the King County Code of Ethics. It appears that the Rotary Club gave you with the gift in gratitude for your presentation and assistance in the development of their waste reduction program. Our evaluation finds that:

1. The gift is worth less than $20.00.

2. The gift was given for a bona fide, ceremonial, non-recurring occasion.

3. The gift was not given with a clear intent to influence business with the County;

4. The gift was not donated for the purpose of influencing County action.

5. Acceptance of gift was not in conflict with the performance of the employee's official duties.

Therefor, based on the information provided and given the intent of the King County Code of Ethics, we believe that in this matter, there is no violation of the Code of Ethics and it is quite aceptable for you to keep the monogrammed letter opener.

Statement of Circumstances: A Waste Reduction and Recycling specialist in the Solid Waste Division has solicited an advisory opinion from the King County Board of Ethics generated by her receipt of an unsolicited gift in the form of a monogrammed letter opener bearing the Rotary Club insignia. The president of the Tukwila Rotary Club gave the gift to acknowledge the organization's appreciation of the presentation that the employee gave to them regarding the implementation of waste reduction programs for businesses.

Analysis:

AUTHORITY RELIED UPON

3.04.017 Definitions.

G. "Gift" means anything of economic value, but shall not include campaign contributions regulated by the provisions of RCW Ch. 42.17, the King County Charter and ordinances implementing them, informational materials exclusively for official or office use, memorials, trophies, and plaques of no commercial value, gifts of $20.00 or less for bona fide, non-recurring, ceremonial occasions or any gifts which are not used and which within thirty days after receipt are returned to the donor, or donated to a charitable organization without seeking a tax deduction.

K. "Person" means any individual, partnership, association, corporation, firm, institution, or other entity, whether or not operated for profit. The term does not include governmental units of the State of Washington or the United States unless so specified.

3.04.030 Conflict of interest. No county employee shall engage in any act which is in conflict with the performance of official duties. A county employee shall be deemed to have a conflict of interest if the employee directly, or indirectly:
B. Is beneficially interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract, sale, lease, option or purchase that may be made by, through, or under the supervision of the employee, in whole or in part, or accepts, directly or indirectly, any compensation, gift or thing of value from any other person beneficially interested therein;

C. Accepts or seeks for others, directly or indirectly, any employment, travel expense, service, information, compensation, gift or thing of value on more favorable terms than those granted to other county employees or the public generally, from any person doing business, or seeking to do business with the county for which the employee has responsibility or with regard to which he or she may participate, provided that this subsection shall not apply to the receipt by elected officials, or by employees who are supervised directly by an elected official, of meals, refreshments or transportation within the boundaries of King County when given in connection with meetings with constituents or meetings which are informational or ceremonial in nature;

D. Accepts, directly or indirectly, any gift, favor, loan retainer, entertainment, travel expense, compensation or other thing of value from any person doing business or seeking to do business with the county when such acceptance may conflict with the performance of the employee's official duties.

A conflict shall be deemed to exist where a reasonable and prudent person would believe that the gift, compensation or other thing of value form any person doing business or seeking to do business with the county when such acceptance may conflict with the performance of the employee's official duties.

ISSUED ON THE ________________ day of __________________, 1991

Signed for the Board: Dr. J. Patrick Dobel, Chair

Members:

Timothy Edwards, Esq.
Dr. Judith Woods
Dr. J. Patrick Dobel, Chair
JPD:dwm

cc:

Tim Hill, King County Executive
King County Councilmembers
Bob Stier, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
Rella Foley, Ombudsman, Office of Citizen Complaints
Rodney Hansen, Manager, Solid Waste Division