Chocaholics, Beware of Vendors Bearing Gifts

Back when I started working for the Pretty Small School District, my boss would pass out tickets to professional hockey games.  She would say something like “Look, I have these tickets and I’m not that interested in hockey.”  So Spouse and I would go.

I later found out that the tickets came from one of the district’s vendors. Back then I had no idea this was a reportable gift.

In California it is not legal to accept gifts of more than $440 (cumulative in a 12 month period) from a single reportable source.  Don’t be confused.  You still have to report gifts under this amount.

  • $440 or less: you may accept but must report anything worth $50 or more.
  • Over $440: you cannot accept, even if you plan to report.

The following is taken directly from the California Fair Political Practices Commission website:

Q. An agency received a large box of chocolates as a holiday gift from a local merchant. It was addressed to the agency and not to a particular employee. Is there a reporting requirement?

A. Generally, the receipt of food and beverages is considered a gift. However, in this instance, the gift would only be reportable by an employee if (1) the vendor was a reportable source on the individual’s Form 700 and (2) the employee consumed candy valued at $50 or more.

Wow.  The go-to corporate gift candy in California is Sees (we have received loads of chocolate as gifts over the years, and it is always Sees).  As a service to all you scrupulous public servants out there, here’s what $50 worth of Sees chocolate looks like.  Enjoy (but not too much)!



Update January 18, 2014:  Firefighters return Ellen’s Caribbean cruise tickets

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