2011 Holiday Guidance

As we approach the holidays, the following provides some general guidance regarding the distribution and reporting of gifts.  Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the OLIG at 614-728-5100.

How should cookie trays, popcorn tins and fruit baskets be handled?

  • If these items are provided to a legislator’s office or caucus (not an individual); these items are not reportable as gifts from the lobbyist or their client as no individual is named as the recipient.  These items should be placed in a public area for staff, legislators and visitors to all enjoy. 
  •  If items provided to a caucus or office (not an individual) as a whole are converted to personal use (i.e. a staff member takes the fruit basket home to re-gift to Grandma Betty) there may be reporting implications.  Furthermore, converting the gift to personal use could put the legislator/staff member over the $75.00 limit on what they can accept from a lobbyist.
  •  If the item is not provided by a lobbyist or their employer, but by an organization or entity that is not the employer of a lobbyist, a financial disclosure statement filer who converts the item to personal use may be required to disclose the source of the gift on their financial disclosure statement if it is valued at $75.00 or more.
  • An individual who is given a gift basket or cookie tray by a lobbyist or the lobbyist’s employer does not eliminate potential reporting, merely because the individual places the gift in a public setting for all to enjoy.  Depending upon the value, the individual may be subject to financial disclosure statement reporting as well as reporting by the lobbyist or lobbyist’s client.

  Reporting by lobbyists and their Employers:

  •  Holiday gifts of $25.00 or more provided to legislators/staff by lobbyists or their employers are reported on September – December 2011 Activity & Expenditure Reports.  If a financial disclosure statement filer accepted a gift(s) valued at more than $25.00 from a lobbyist, they will report the lobbyist as the source of a gift on their 2011 financial disclosure statement to be filed in 2012. 
  •  Legislators/staff members are prohibited from accepting more than $75.00 in gifts from a legislative agent aggregated per year.
  •  If a lobbyist or their client is unable to determine the actual value of the gift, the fair market value or another reasonable accounting method are appropriate to determine the value of the gift for disclosure purposes.
  •  Receptions or holiday parties where all legislators or all the legislators of a particular Chamber are invited are reported as any all-invited event would be.