ASU employees must be careful about accepting gifts or gratuities. A gift or gratuity may be any benefit or thing that is voluntarily bestowed for little or no compensation. The kinds of gifts with which ASU employees must be concerned are those that may or appear to have an influence on the employee in the exercise of his or her duties. There are several state statutes and ASU policies that address the receipt of gifts or gratuities by public employees. In addition, there is a specific statute that addresses when a state employee may accept free admission to a cultural or sporting event. Violations of these laws include both civil and criminal penalties which range from employee discipline (including termination) to criminal prosecution.
According to both statutory law and ASU Policies, university employees are prohibited from receiving any direct or indirect gift that would not legally and ordinarily accrue to the employee if the gift is of such a character that it may "manifest a substantial and improper influence" on the employee in the exercise of his or her official duties. See Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") §§ARS38-504(A) and ARS38-505(A); ASU Policy on Conflict of Interest (ACD 204-08), Rules Five and Six. To that end, the primary ASU Policy on Gifts and Gratuities in PUR 104 [*1] provides, in relevant part, as follows:
University employees shall not accept or solicit, directly or indirectly, anything of economic value as a gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, or loan which is or may appear to be designed to influence official conduct in any manner, particularly from a person who is seeking to obtain contractual or other business or financial arrangements with the university (e.g., a vendor, who has interests that might be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee’s duty).
This includes both present and potential suppliers and contractors to the university and agents working on behalf of suppliers and contractors.
The foregoing Policy suggests, however, that an ASU employee may accept a gift if it is not designed to influence or induce the exercise of official conduct:
University employees may accept from vendors and others:
An employee must determine whether the gift or gratuity is or may appear to be designed to influence his or her official conduct. Other then offering examples [*2] and implicitly suggesting some possible factors, [*3] the Policy offers no formula for ascertaining the purpose of a gift.
If you have a question about the propriety of a gift or gratuity, the safest practices are to decline the gift, pay for it yourself, or seek guidance from the ASU Office of General Counsel before accepting it.
ASU employees must be especially cautious before accepting tickets or paid admission to sporting or cultural events because there are special rules that govern gifts of that nature. In 2000, the Arizona Legislature enacted a law that is commonly referred to as the "entertainment ban." See A.R.S. § 41-1232.08. That law provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
41-1232.08. Entertainment ban; state and political subdivisions; exceptions; definition
A. * * * A state officer [*4] or state employee [*5] shall not accept an expenditure [*6] or single expenditure [*7] for entertainment [*8] from a principal, [*9] designated lobbyist, [*10] authorized lobbyist, lobbyist for compensation, public body, [*11] designated public lobbyist or authorized public lobbyist or any other person acting on that person's behalf.
The entertainment ban statute is difficult to interpret because many of the terms used in the statute are burdened with special statutory definitions. (See footnotes 3 through 10 above.) To summarize, the entertainment ban applies to an invitation if:
Consequently, if a lobbyist or someone that employs a lobbyist offers an ASU employee a ticket to a sporting or cultural event, the safest practices for that employee are to decline to accept the ticket, to pay for it, or seek advice from the ASU Office of General Counsel. Please note, however, that there is a specific statutory exception that permits ASU employees to accept free admission to any sporting or cultural event or activity, sponsored by an institution under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Board of Regents ("ABOR") (e.g., one of the State’s universities), in a facility that is owned or operated by an institution under the jurisdiction of ABOR A.R.S. § 41-1232.08(C)(3).
[*2] The specific examples are "unsolicited advertising or promotional material such as pens, pencils, scratch pads, and calendars" and "a box of candy or fruitcake."
[*3] For example, factors include whether the gift is unsolicited promotional material, whether the gift is justified by a legitimate business purpose, and whether the gift is of "insignificant" or "nominal or minor" value.
[*4] "State officer" means a person who is duly elected, appointed or retained through an election to any state office or a member of any state board, commission or council, and includes a member of the legislature. A.R.S. § 41-1231(22).
[*5] "State employee" means an employee of a university under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Board of Regents. A.R.S. § 41-1231(21).
[*6] "Expenditure" means a payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of value and includes a contract, promise or agreement, whether or not legally enforceable, to make an expenditure that provides a benefit to an individual state officer or state employee and that is incurred by or on behalf of one or more principals, public bodies, lobbyists, designated public lobbyists or authorized public lobbyists. A.R.S. § 41-1231(6).
[*7] "Single expenditure" means an expenditure that provides a benefit of more than twenty dollars to an individual state officer or state employee and that is incurred by or on behalf of one ore more principals, public bodies, lobbyists, designated public lobbyists or authorized public lobbyists. A.R.S. § 41-1231(19).
[*8] "Entertainment" means the amount of any expenditure paid or incurred for admission to any sporting or cultural event or for participation in any sporting or cultural activity. A.R.S. § 41-1231(5).
[*9] "Principal" means any person, other than a public body, that employs, retains, engages or uses, with or without compensation, a lobbyist. Principal includes any subsidiary of a corporation. A.R.S. § 41-1231(16).
[*10] "Lobbyist" means any person, other than a designated public lobbyist or authorized public lobbyist, who is employed by, retained by or representing a person other than himself, with or without compensation, for the purpose of lobbying and who is listed as a lobbyist by the principal in its registration pursuant to section 41-1232. Lobbyist includes a lobbyist for compensation, designated lobbyist and authorized lobbyist. Lobbyist includes attorneys whose practice involves bonding, underwriters of bonds and investment bankers whose business includes bonding. A.R.S. § 41-1231(12).
[*11] "Public body" means the Arizona board of regents, a university under the jurisdiction of the Arizona board of regents, the judicial department, any state agency, board, commission or council, any county, any county elected officer who elects to appoint a designated public lobbyist or any city, town, district or other political subdivision of this state that receives and utilized tax revenues and that employs, retains, engages or uses, with or without compensation, a designated public lobbyist or authorized public lobbyist. A.R.S. § 41-1231(17).
[*12] The Arizona Secretary of State's Web site http://www.azsos.gov/scripts/Lobbyist_Search.dll allows the public to search the public filings for the names of registered lobbyists and their principals (those for whom they work).
Reviewed January, 2008
Some of the legal material found at this site has been abridged from laws, regulations, court decisions, administrative rulings, ABOR and ASU policies and other sources. Further details may be necessary for complete analysis and understanding in particular matters. The information contained at this site, and related links, is not a substitute for professional legal counsel. Any discrepancy between the information at this site and ASU policy is not intended to alter or amend official ASU policy or procedure.
Any links to non-Arizona State University information are provided as a courtesy. They are not intended to nor do they constitute an endorsement by the Arizona Board of Regents or Arizona State University of the linked materials.