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1 TEXAS ETHICS COMMISSION ETHICS TRAINING FOR STATE OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES IN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF STATE GOVERNMENT 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "1 TEXAS ETHICS COMMISSION ETHICS TRAINING FOR STATE OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES IN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF STATE GOVERNMENT 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 TEXAS ETHICS COMMISSION ETHICS TRAINING FOR STATE OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES IN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF STATE GOVERNMENT 2005

2 2 This presentation is intended to make you familiar with laws governing your conduct as a state officer and state employee. For further guidance, you should consult your agency ethics advisor or legal counsel.

3 3 Texas Ethics Commission 201 E. 14 th Street Sam Houston Bldg. 10 th Floor Austin, Texas Phone: (512) (800) Fax: (512) David A. Reisman, Executive Director

4 4 Ethics Laws for State Officers and Employees Standards of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Acceptance of Benefits Abuse of Office Other Employment Personal Financial Statements Lobbying by State Officers and Employees

5 5 Standards of Conduct and Conflict of Interest A state officer or employee should not: 1. Accept or solicit any gift, favor, or service that might reasonably tend to influence; 2. Accept other employment or engage in a business that would involve the disclosure of confidential information; 3. Accept other employment that could impair independence of judgment;

6 6 Continued... a state officer or employee should not: 4. Make personal investments that could create a conflict with public interest; or 5. Intentionally or knowingly solicit, accept, or agree to accept any benefit for exercising official powers or duties.

7 7 Acceptance of Benefits Bribery Honoraria Prohibitions on Gifts Exceptions to Gift Prohibitions Gifts Prohibited by the Lobby Statute Gifts to State Agencies Donation of Gifts to Charities

8 8 Acceptance of Benefits A “benefit” is anything reasonably regarded as pecuniary gain or pecuniary advantage Penal Code § 36.01(3)

9 9 Bribery As a public servant you commit the offense of bribery if you solicit, offer, or accept a “benefit” in exchange for a decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercise of official discretion. Penal Code § 36.02

10 10 Honoraria Prohibited: Accepting an honorarium where services are requested because of the officer’s or employee’s official position. Permitted: Food, transportation and lodging in connections with a speech if the services performed are more than merely perfunctory. Penal Code § 36.07

11 11 Prohibitions on Gifts Most public servants are subject to one or more prohibitions on the acceptance of “benefits.” Penal Code § 36.08

12 12 Prohibitions on Gifts The following gifts are examples of benefits: $50 clock Hotel room Football tickets $160 rifle $60 restaurant meal

13 13 Prohibitions on Gifts Example: In an agency performing regulatory functions, a public servant may not accept a benefit from a person the public servant knows to be subject to the regulation, inspection, or investigation by the public servant or his agency. Penal Code § 36.08(a)

14 14 Prohibitions on Gifts Example: A public servant who exercises discretion with contracts, purchases, payments, claims, or other pecuniary transactions, may not accept a benefit from a person known to be interested, or likely to become interested in such a transaction. Penal Code § 36.08(d)

15 15 Exceptions to Gift Prohibitions There are some exceptions to the prohibitions set out in the Penal Code. However, officers and employees should make sure their agency’s laws and rules permit the benefits permitted under the Penal Code and also consider whether the benefit raises the appearance of impropriety.

16 16 Exceptions to Gift Prohibitions Non-cash items less than $50 Food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment if accepted as a “guest.” (donor must be present) A gift from a friend relative, or business associate with whom you have a relationship independent of official status.

17 17 Exceptions to Gift Prohibitions continued... A payment for legitimate consideration. Certain gifts, awards and mementos from persons required to register as lobbyists.

18 18 Hypothetical Question You are employed by a state agency. A lobbyist working for a group affected by your agency’s regulations sends you two tickets to a Dallas Cowboys game. May you accept them? What if the lobbyist is an old college friend?

19 19 Gifts to State Agencies A gift may be accepted on behalf of the agency only if: The agency has express statutory authority to accept gifts; The gift can be used in carrying out the agency’s powers and duties; and All provisions of Govt. Code Chapter 575 have been met.

20 20 Donation of Gifts to Charity A public servant who receives an unsolicited benefit, the public servant is prohibited from accepting, may donate the benefit to a governmental entity with the authority to accept the gift or to a recognized tax-exempt charitable organization formed for educational, religious, or scientific purposes.

21 21 Abuse of Office Misuse of government property, service, personnel or any other thing of value. Frequent flyer miles Political campaigns Misuse of official information

22 22 Misuse of Government Property, Services and Personnel. A public servant commits an offense if, with the intent to obtain a benefit or harm or defraud another, he misuses government property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value belonging to the government that has come into the public servant's custody or possession by virtue of the public servant's office or employment. Penal Code § 39.02

23 23 Hypothetical Question You are the Executive Director for a large state agency. You have a full week of legislative hearings and meetings with interest groups on upcoming legislation. You have no time for your errands. May you send your administrative assistant to pick up your dry cleaning?

24 24 Frequent Flyer Miles Travel discount awards (i.e. frequent flier miles), hotel, or rental car discounts, or food coupons are not things of value belonging to the government under the Penal Code. However, an agency may adopt a policy requiring that such travel awards be used for agency purposes. Penal Code § 39.02(d)

25 25 Political Campaigns Use of state time or state equipment to work on a person’s political campaign is prohibited. See EAO No. 172

26 26 Hypothetical Question May you use your state computer to send e- mail messages to your co-workers urging them to vote for a certain candidate for state representative in the upcoming election? What if the candidate is an old college friend?

27 27 Misuse of Official Information A public servant is prohibited from: Using official information to acquire or assist another acquire a pecuniary interest in any property, transaction, or enterprise. Speculating or aiding another to speculate on the basis of official information. Disclosing or using the information to obtain a benefit or to harm another.

28 28 Other Employment Concurrent Employment – Prohibitions Bribery – Employment in exchange for official action. Honorarium – payment for services as a result of official status. Note: Some agencies have stricter concurrent employment laws.

29 29 Hypothetical Question You are employed by a state agency that regulates utilities. A national utility association asks you to participate in a conference on current regulatory issues. May you participate? May you accept payment for participating?

30 30 Future Employment Revolving Door # 1 Former Board Members and Executive Directors of Regulatory Agencies: Two year restriction on communications with or appearances before an officer of employee of the agency with the intent to influence on behalf of any person in connection with any matter on which the person seeks official action.

31 31 Future Employment Revolving Door #2 Former Officers and Executive Directors of Regulatory Agencies and Employees paid at or above a certain level: Permanent restriction on representing or receiving compensation regarding a “particular matter.” Note: Some agencies are subject to stricter revolving door laws.

32 32 Personal Financial Statements Board Members and Executive Directors arerequired to file a PFS on or before April 30 each year. $500 fine for late filings.

33 33 Lobbying by State Officers and Employees Use of appropriated funds to influence legislation is prohibited. Government Code Chapter 556

34 34 Questions?


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