Generally yes, but there are important restrictions that apply to engaging in campaign activity for any office, including federal, state, or local office. For example, you may not use official resources for campaign purposes, solicit or otherwise handle federal campaign funds, or make a campaign contribution to your supervising Senator.
If you are interested in engaging in campaign activity, please refer to the Committee’s Campaign Quick Reference Guide, Campaign Activity Training Handout, or contact the Committee if you have any questions.
Potentially yes. Your Senate position, duties, and hours are generally within the discretion of your Senate office. With your employing Senator’s approval, and absent a conflict of interest, you may hold a part-time Senate position and a part-time campaign position.
However, to avoid any use of official resources for campaign work, your Senate pay must reflect only your official duties. This means that if you reduce your official hours to accommodate outside campaign work (or any other outside activity), you must reduce your Senate pay commensurately. Additionally, in order to remain on Senate payroll and continue to receive Senate benefits, you must work at least one full day per week for the Senate office. You may also perform campaign work during accrued annual leave, consistent with your office’s leave policy.
No. 18 U.S.C. § 603, a criminal statute, prohibits Senate employees from making campaign contributions to their employing Senators. Contributions include advances or “outlays” to the campaign (e.g., paying for campaign expenses with personal funds, even if reimbursed).
This statute does not prohibit Senate employees from donating to other Members, candidates, and causes.
Probably not. Under Senate Rule 41, no Senate officer or employee may solicit, receive, be a custodian of, or distribute funds in connection with any campaign for federal office.
The only exception is if you are a “political fund designee” (PFD). Each Senator may designate three such employees in their personal office. PFDs may handle campaign funds of their supervising Senator, a committee established and controlled by a Senator or group of Senators, or a state or local committee of a national party.
Note that it is never permissible to conduct campaign activity, including making fundraising calls, from a Senate office or otherwise using Senate resources, regardless of whether you are a PFD.
Not if the fundraiser is for a candidate for federal office. Unless you are a “political fund designee” (PFD), you may not solicit funds in connection with any campaign for federal office. Posting, forwarding, or otherwise promoting an invitation to a fundraising event is a solicitation under Senate Rule 41.
Senate Rule 41 does not apply to fundraising for candidates for state or local office.
Potentially yes. No Senate Rule prohibits you from running for or holding elective office. However, like any other outside activity, you must ensure there is no conflict of interest with your Senate position, receive your supervising Senator’s approval, and not use any Senate resources for the outside activity.
The Committee strongly recommends that you contact the Committee for guidance before running for any elected office. You should also consult the relevant authorities that govern the state or local office and election.
Note that Senate Rule 41 and the dual compensation statute, 5 U.S.C. § 5533, make running for and holding federal office virtually impossible.
18 U.S.C. § 607, a criminal statute, prohibits you from soliciting or receiving a campaign contribution in federal office spaces. However, the law contains an exception that allows unsolicited contributions received in official space to be forwarded to the campaign within seven (7) days of receipt. If you receive a misdirected campaign contribution, you may forward it to the campaign, but must do so within seven days of receiving it. To ensure official resources are not used to supplement the campaign, the campaign may provide envelopes and postage for forwarding misdirected campaign contributions.
Exercise special caution when a contribution is delivered to the Senate office in person or comes from a person with business before the office. Any appearance of a link between campaign contributions and official action can raise concerns under criminal bribery laws and related standards.
No. Federal law and the Regulations Governing the Use of the Mailing Frank provide that no Senator may send a mass mailing within 60 days of a biennial federal election, or within 60 days of any other election in which the Member is a candidate.
The Committee on Rules and Administration has promulgated similar 60-day moratorium periods on other uses of official resources. Please contact the Committee on Rules and Administration for additional guidance.
It depends. While no Senate Rule imposes a blanket prohibition on holding outside positions or earning outside income, the rules do restrict the type of position you can hold and amount of income you can earn. Specifically, Senate Rule 37.2 prohibits you from engaging in outside employment that is “inconsistent or in conflict” with your official Senate duties. The Committee has long interpreted this provision as applying to both actual conflicts of interest and the appearance of a conflict of interest. Whether a second job presents an actual conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest under Senate Rules is a fact specific inquiry that you should conduct with your employing office. In the first instance, your supervising Senator is responsible for identifying and preventing conflicts of interest, and the appearance of a conflict of interest, that may arise from your outside activities. Upon receiving approval, you must report in writing all outside positions to your supervisor both at the time you begin the position and on May 15 of each year you continue to hold the position. In addition, certain outside activities are prohibited entirely or subject to significant additional restrictions (e.g., providing professional services or acting as board member). If you or your Senate office needs assistance in determining whether the particular job you are taking creates a conflicts concern, please contact the Committee.
No. This position appears to create a conflict of interest with your Senate duties. Senate employees are restricted by Senate Rule 37.2 and related standards of conduct from holding board, officer, or advisory positions that are in conflict with the performance of official duties. The Committee has previously found that a conflict of interest exists if an employee takes a position on a board where the employee’s official duties involve the same topics addressed by the outside organization (i.e., subject matter conflict).
No. This position appears to create a conflict of interest with your Senate duties. As noted above, Senate employees may not accept a board position if the position presents a conflict of interest under Senate Rule 37. The Committee has previously found conflicts of interest where Senate employees have taken uncompensated positions on boards that receive, seek, or administer federal funding from an agency that is subject to the appropriation or oversight functions of a committee on which their supervising Senator sits or that otherwise has an interest in matters under such committee’s jurisdiction (i.e., federal funding conflict).
Probably not. Senate Rule 37.5 imposes significant restrictions on performing professional services. “Professional services” include, but are not limited to, those which involve a fiduciary relationship, as is the case for a real estate broker.
If your Senate rate of pay is at or above $132,552 (CY 2021), you may not provide professional services for compensation under any circumstances.
If your Senate rate of pay is below this threshold, you may not affiliate with a firm, partnership, association, or corporation for the purpose of providing professional services for compensation. If the jurisdiction that issued your real estate license requires it to be held by a real estate company, then you may not continue this activity while a Senate employee, as it would be an impermissible affiliation. If the jurisdiction that issued your license allows you to engage in real estate sales without affiliating with a real estate company, you may continue a solo practice provided that your supervising Senator approves.
No. In addition to Senate Rule 37, which governs conflicts of interest related to outside activities, federal criminal law prohibits Members, officers, and employees from privately representing others before the federal government. One such provision, 18 U.S.C. § 205, forbids any officer or employee from acting “as agent or attorney for anyone” (other than in the proper discharge of official duties) before any government entity in any particular matter in which the government has an interest, whether or not the individual is compensated. Your proposed position with the clinic, which appears to involve representing clients before federal agencies in matters of federal interest, is impermissible under this statute.
Potentially, yes, but you must receive the Committee’s prior written approval if your rate of pay is at or above $132,552 (CY 2021). Outside activities that involve teaching are subject to certain restrictions from Senate Rule 37 and federal law. As with all outside employment, your supervising Senator must determine that your teaching position does not create a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest with regard to your Senate duties. In addition, teaching for compensation must not violate the honoraria ban, which prohibits Members, officers, and employees of the Senate from accepting payment for a speech, article, or appearance. In order to ensure a teaching position does not violate the honoraria ban, Senate Rule 37, or other standards of conduct, it must generally meet the following criteria:
- The teaching is part of a regular course of instruction at an established academic institution, involving services on an ongoing basis, rather than payment for individual appearances.
- The compensation is reasonable and derived from the institution’s general funds, not supported by earmarked grants, appropriations, or contributions by other entities.
- The compensation is consistent with the pay of other teachers holding similar positions (e.g., with similar time commitments and credit offerings) at the school.
- Responsibilities include class preparation, lecture presentation, and student evaluation (grading papers, testing, homework, etc.).
- Students receive credit for the course taught.
- No Senate resources or time are used in connection with the teaching.
Members, officers, and employees whose rate of pay is at or above $132,552 (CY 2021) must ensure that their income from all sources does not exceed the outside earned income limit ($29,595 for CY 2021), and that the position and income are disclosed on their Financial Disclosure Report.
Yes. Even if you are planning to teach the same course, you must obtain the Committee’s prior written approval for each year you teach. You may request approval for more than one course at once, provided that the courses take place within one calendar year (e.g., January 2020 to December 2020) or one academic year (e.g., August 2020 to May 2021).
Probably not. Paragraph 7 of Senate Rule 37 provides that an employee on the staff of a committee who is compensated at a rate of more than $25,000 a year, and employed for more than 90 days in a calendar year, must divest of “any substantial holdings which may be directly affected by the actions of the committee for which he works.”
Yes. Individuals who provide full-time services to the Senate for more than ninety days in a calendar year, including unpaid interns, are treated as Senate employees and subject to the Code of Official Conduct, including the post-employment restrictions in Senate Rule 37. Thus, you will have a one-year lobbying ban that prohibits you from lobbying the Senator for whom you worked. For purposes of this restriction, lobbying means “any oral or written communication to influence the content or disposition of any issue before Congress, including any pending or future bill, resolution, treaty, nomination, hearing, report, or investigation.”
Note that Senate employees paid at a rate at or above $130,500 are subject to heightened post-employment restrictions imposed by Senate Rule and federal law.
No. This would create a conflict of interest. Individuals who provide full-time services to the Senate for more than ninety days in a calendar year are treated as Senate employees and subject to the Code of Official Conduct, including the conflict of interest provisions in Senate Rule 37. As set out in the Senate Ethics Manual and Interpretative Ruling No. 444, a fellow who is paid by or accepts expenses from an outside entity may not work on “issues related to the interest of the individual [entity] providing such funding.” This restriction may preclude a fellow from working for certain Senate committees or offices altogether.
You should not assist your former colleague, as doing so may be aiding her in a violation of her post-employment restrictions. All members of the Senate community have a responsibility to uphold the law and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. If you are uncertain whether your colleague is subject to a post-employment restriction or what type of conduct is restricted, you should contact the Committee for guidance, or refer your former colleague to the Committee for guidance, before taking any action in response to the email. Note that this restriction applies regardless of who initiates the contact.
Generally yes. Members have broad discretion regarding whether and how to help their constituents. However, Members, officers, and employees are not permitted to provide or deny assistance based on partisan political considerations, such as the constituent’s party affiliation or contributor status, or personal considerations, such as the Member’s personal or financial interests. In addition, the Committee advises Members against contacting an agency decision-maker performing a quasi-judicial, adjudicative, or enforcement function, as doing so can compromise the impartiality of the underlying proceeding. Before contacting an executive branch or independent government agency on behalf of a constituent, the Senate office should first contact the Congressional liaison for that agency to determine whether such intervention would be permitted at that time.
No. Senate Rule 43 provides that the decision to provide assistance to constituents may not be made on the basis of contributions or services, or promises of contributions or services, to the Member’s political campaigns or to other organizations in which the Member has a political, personal, or financial interest.
In a Dear Colleague letter issued in 2002 (Dear Colleague: Senate Rule 43 (Aug. 2002)), the Committee also advised Members that identifying those seeking access to Members based on party affiliation, political contributions or past employment, or encouraging others to do so, suggests a motive to grant special access or deny access based on those criteria and tends to adversely affect public confidence in the Senate.
Yes, in the Senator’s discretion. The Committee has previously ruled that the prohibition on soliciting anything of value contained in the Anti-Solicitation Statute (5 U.S.C. § 7353) does not prohibit solicitations for § 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, as long as the solicitation does not involve any use of Senate resources. Within the discretion of the Member, no rule or law prohibits the offering of a lunch with the Senator. Absent conduct that would reflect discredit upon the Senate, the Committee will not interfere with the judgment of the Member.
Because the charitable donation—here, lunch with the Senator—is contingent upon the presence of a Member, officer, or employee, the amount of the charitable donation is subject to the $2,000 limitation of Senate Rule 36. As a practical matter, this means that when the Member arranges the donation, they should inform the § 501(c)(3) charitable organization that it must limit the bidding at the auction to a maximum of $2,000.
Finally, the Member must report the charitable donation on Part 1 (Honoraria Payments or Payments to Charity in Lieu of Honoraria) of their Financial Disclosure Report.
No. Federal law limits a Member’s ability to recommend candidates for federal “competitive service” positions. Specifically, 5 U.S.C. § 3303 prohibits individuals examining applicants for competitive service positions from receiving or considering a recommendation by a Senator, except as to the character or residence of the applicant. Further, 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(2) prohibits recommendations, oral or written, other than recommendations “based on the personal knowledge or records of the person furnishing it, and consist[ing] of either (A) an evaluation of the work performance, ability, aptitude, or general qualifications of such individual; or (B) an evaluation of the character, loyalty, or suitability of such individual.”
Providing a letter of recommendation where the Member does not have personal knowledge of an individual’s work can also raise concerns beyond these statutory limitations. Contact the Committee for specific guidance regarding letters of recommendation.
To start working on your report, you must first request an account through the Senate’s electronic filing system (eFD). Please visit https://efd.senate.gov/filer/account/request/ to request an account.
In addition to requesting an account, you will be prompted to submit a signature page with your physical signature. This is required to activate your account. You may submit this signature page via email (eFD_admin@ethics.senate.gov) or hand deliver it to the Committee’s office in the Hart Senate Office Building, Room 220.
Once your account has been approved, you will be able to begin your report by logging in to your account at https://efd.senate.gov.
In many cases, yes. Federal law authorizes the Committee to grant extensions of up to a maximum of 90 days from the initial due date for any Annual Report, Termination Report, or New Filer Report.
Federal law does not allow extensions for:
- Any Periodic Transaction Report (PTR); or
- A Candidate Report, if the requested due date is fewer than 30 days before the election in which you are a candidate.
To request an extension, you must log in to your eFD account and submit the extension request before the filing deadline. You will not be able to request an extension after the filing deadline has passed.
Yes. Committee staff is available to review draft Financial Disclosure Reports upon request. Please keep in mind that resources for draft reviews may become more limited as your filing deadline approaches.
To request a draft review, please contact the Committee at (202) 224-2981.
All Financial Disclosure Reports are made available for public inspection at the Office of Public Records, pursuant to § 105 of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. Any person requesting a copy of a report may be required to pay a reasonable fee to cover the cost of reproduction and mailing.
Pursuant to § 8(a) of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 (STOCK Act), as amended, Financial Disclosure Reports filed by Members and candidates are made available online by the Secretary of the Senate at https://efdsearch.senate.gov/search/home/.
You may review applications for public access to your reports by contacting the Office of Public Records (202) 224-0758 or by visiting the “Viewers of My Reports” page in your eFD account, accessible at https://efd.senate.gov.
As a detailee, you must file to the same extent as Senate employees, except that you are not required to file Periodic Transaction Reports (PTRs) with the Senate. Note that you are required to file Financial Disclosure Reports with the Senate even if you already file Financial Disclosure Reports with your home agency.
When your detail ends, you will also owe a Termination Financial Disclosure Report. Please notify the Committee of the end date of your detail in order to receive an invitation to file this report.
Questions regarding your financial disclosure obligations with your home agency should be addressed to your home agency.
Yes. You should add locality pay to your base pay to determine your salary rate. Detailees who receive any other special pay (e.g., LEAP pay, flight pay) must contact the Committee to determine their filing requirements.
No. You are not required to disclose your Senate salary or any other income that you or your spouse receive from the federal government, including military pay, social security income, and retirement income.
No. You are not required to report a TSP held by you, your spouse, or your dependent children, as the plan is a retirement benefit derived from federal government employment.
Yes. Non-federal retirement plans must be reported on Part 3 (Assets). Further, you must disclose all reportable underlying assets (e.g., stocks, mutual funds), listing the asset name, asset value, income type, and income amount for each underlying asset. You must also report transactions of more than $1,000 involving assets in your retirement plans on Part 4 (Transactions). Finally, you must report any agreement for “continuing participation in an employee benefit plan” on Part 9 (Agreements).
You are not required to report assets, transactions, or agreements associated with federal government retirement plans or benefits (e.g., Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)).
Contributing cash to your IRA is not a reportable transaction. However, if the contribution is used to purchase an asset (e.g., a mutual fund), you must report the purchase transaction if it is greater than $1,000. Note that many IRAs are set up to automatically invest your cash contributions in a specific asset. These purchases, even though automatic, are still subject to the transaction reporting requirement.
Report transactions involving stocks, bonds, commodities futures, or other securities on Part 4a (PTR Summary) by filing a PTR within 30 days of receiving notice of the transaction, but in no case later than 45 days after the transaction occurred. Report transactions involving Excepted Investment Funds (EIFs) annually on Part 4b (Transactions) of your Annual Report for the corresponding year. To review the definition of an EIF, see page 11 of the Committee’s Financial Disclosure Instructions.
Yes. You are required to report your spouse’s retirement account(s) on Part 3 (Assets), listing the asset name, asset value, income type, and income amount for each reportable underlying asset. Additionally, you must report all transactions of more than $1,000 involving the account’s underlying assets on Part 4 (Transactions).
Reporting is not required for your spouse if they are living separate and apart from you with the intention of permanently separating or terminating the marriage. In addition, reporting is not required for the receipt or payment of alimony or child support arising from a permanent separation or the dissolution of a marriage.
You are required to report assets, transactions, gifts, travel reimbursements, and liabilities for any child who is either (a) unmarried, under age 21, and living at home; or (b) a “dependent” within the meaning of § 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
In most cases, no. You are required to report a personal residence if it was used to generate rental income during the reporting period. If any portion of your personal residence was rented for any period of time during the reporting period, then you must report the entire property as an asset on Part 3 (Assets). This requirement applies even if you received rental income from a basement rental unit in a personal residence or rented a portion of your home for a short amount of time (e.g., Airbnb) during the reporting period.
Other reporting requirements may apply if your personal residence is held in a trust, business, or other corporate entity. If this is the case, please contact the Committee for guidance.
For filers other than Members, probably not. For officers and employees, a mortgage or home equity loan secured by a personal residence is not reportable unless the residence is used to generate income or is held in a trade or business.
Under § 13 of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 (STOCK Act), as amended., however, all Members must report all mortgages and home equity loans.
The valuation date for Part 3 (Assets) depends on the type of Financial Disclosure Report.
For your Annual Report, value all assets using their value as of December 31st.
For your New Filer or Termination Report, value all assets using their value as of any date that is within 31 days of your New Filer or Termination date (i.e., the date that you were appointed to the filing position or crossed the reporting threshold, or the date that you left your filing position). You must report:
- Any asset with a value exceeding $1,000 as of your chosen valuation date; and
- Any asset from which you received or accrued more than $200 in income during either the previous or current calendar year, up to your New Filer or Termination date.
For further instructions regarding the reporting period for each section of the Financial Disclosure Report, please see page 8 of the Committee’s Financial Disclosure Instructions.
It depends. You must report the rental property if the value was over $1,000 at the close of the reporting period or the asset generated more than $200 in income during the reporting period. Therefore, if the sold rental property generated more than $200 in income during the reporting period (in rents, capital gains, or both), you must report it on Part 3 (Assets) and list the asset value as “None (or less than $1,001).” If the rental property did not generate more than $200 in income during the reporting period, then you may remove it from Part 3 of your report.
Keep in mind that the sale of the rental property must be reported as a transaction on Part 4b (Transactions) of your Financial Disclosure Report. The sale transaction does not need to be reported on a Periodic Transaction Report (PTR), as transactions involving real property are excepted from the PTR reporting requirement.
On Part 3 (Assets), you must report the realized, taxable income for each asset. To determine an asset’s “Income Amount,” aggregate all types of income generated by the asset during the reporting period. This may include, but is not limited to, capital gains, dividends, interest, rent or royalties, and trust income.
Assets held in tax-deferred accounts (including IRAs, 401(k) or 403(b) plans, and 529 plans) typically do not generate realized, taxable income unless you receive distributions from the account. For assets that did not generate realized, taxable income during the reporting period, report the income amount as “None (or less than $201).”
Other income reporting requirements may apply if you have an interest in a business or other corporate entity. If this is the case, please contact the Committee for guidance.
Yes. Even if you have delegated investment decisions to another individual or entity, you are still required to disclose all reportable investment accounts and underlying assets on Part 3 (Assets), listing each underlying asset’s name, value, income type, and income amount. You must also report all transactions of more than $1,000 of any underlying assets on Part 4 (Transactions). Transactions involving certain assets are subject to a contemporaneous reporting requirement. It is your responsibility to monitor your monthly account statements and to timely report your transactions even if you are not making the investment decisions yourself.
Yes. A separately managed account, or SMA, is generally not an Excepted Investment Fund (EIF) because you own each underlying asset in the account individually and directly in your own name, rather than owning shares of a fund. This is true even if the account manager offers the option to select a pre-determined “investment strategy” or “portfolio” of assets. Because you own each underlying asset in the account individually, you must report each underlying asset held in the account as a separate line item on your Financial Disclosure Report, listing the asset name, asset value, income type, and income amount. Additionally, you must report all transactions of more than $1,000 of any underlying assets on Part 4 (Transactions).
If you, your spouse, or dependent child has an education savings plan, you must report it as an asset on Part 3 (Assets). Because education savings plans are investment accounts that hold underlying assets, you must report the account itself (e.g., “529 Plan for Child 1”) and then report all underlying investments (e.g., “Portfolio 2022”). Most investment choices offered by these plans are mutual funds or will otherwise qualify as Excepted Investment Funds (EIFs). For additional information about education savings plans, please see the Financial Disclosure Instructions.
If you buy, sell, or exchange any underlying investment held in an education savings plan, you must report it on Part 4 (Transactions) if the transaction is greater than $1,000.
Please note that depositing money to and withdrawing money from these accounts often involves the purchase or sale of an asset. If you have questions regarding this reporting requirement, please contact the Committee.
No. Only assets owned by you, your spouse, or your dependent child need to be included on your Financial Disclosure Report. If the account is owned by your parents, it does not need to be reported.
A Periodic Transaction Report (PTR) is a required contemporaneous disclosure of the purchase, sale, or exchange of more than $1,000 of any stock, bond, commodities future, or other non-excepted security. The requirement to file PTRs was established by the STOCK Act.
You must file a PTR within 30 days of receiving written notification of any purchase, sale, or exchange of more than $1,000 of any stock, bond, commodities future, or other non-excepted security, but in no case later than 45 days after that transaction, regardless of whether or not you are aware the transaction occurred.
Because this is a contemporaneous reporting requirement and the law does not allow the deadline of a PTR to be extended, it is your responsibility to monitor your monthly account statements and to file your PTRs in a timely manner. Please contact the Committee for assistance with any questions regarding your PTR requirements.
Probably not. Generally, publicly traded mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) qualify as Excepted Investment Funds (EIFs). You are not required to file a PTR to report a transaction involving an EIF. However, you must report all transactions involving EIFs on Part 4b (Transactions) of your next Annual Report or Termination Report. To review the definition of an EIF, please see page 10 of the Committee’s Financial Disclosure Instructions.
Yes. Dividend reinvestments are purchase transactions. You must report all dividend reinvestment transactions that exceed $1,000.
Not unless you file your Financial Disclosure Reports on paper. Transactions that you reported on PTRs will automatically appear on Part 4a of your next Annual Report. If a transaction is listed on Part 4a (PTR Summary) of your report, then you should not report a duplicate transaction on Part 4b (Transactions).
Generally, no. The franking statute (39 U.S.C. § 3210) specifically prohibits Members from loaning the frank to any non-Congressional group, organization, or person. Enclosing materials published by a non-congressional organization in an otherwise frankable mailing is almost always a loan of the frank to the organization and renders the entire mailing unfrankable.
The Committee is happy to review a proposed mass mailing. Please submit the final, full-sized hard copy of the proposed mailing from Printing, Graphics and Direct Mail for our review.
The Committee does not generally review mass emails, as they are not sent under the frank. Please contact the Committee on Rules and Administration for guidance on mass emails.
Official letterhead may be used for a letter of recommendation written in the Senator’s official capacity; for example, a Senator may use official letterhead to write a letter of recommendation for a current or former staff member. Other letters of recommendation should generally be written in the Senator’s personal capacity, without the use of Senate resources.
Not necessarily. While the Gifts Rule generally bars gifts from lobbyists, there is an exception for gifts given on the basis of personal friendship. Under this exception, you may accept a gift given on the basis of personal friendship unless you have reason to believe that, under the circumstances, the gift is being provided to you because of your official position as a Member, officer, or employee, and not because of your personal friendship.
In determining whether a gift is provided on the basis of personal friendship, you must consider the circumstances under which the gift was offered; the history of your friendship, including any history of exchanging gifts; whether your friend is personally paying for the gift or seeking a reimbursement or business deduction; whether your friend has any business before your office or the Senate; whether your friend is offering the same or similar gift to other Members, officers, or employees of the Senate; and any other relevant facts.
If your friend offers you a gift over $250 in value, you must obtain the Committee’s written permission to accept it. Note that if you are required to file Financial Disclosure Reports, you must report all gifts you receive from any source, other than a relative, aggregating $415 or more in value. For additional information about reporting gifts, please review the Financial Disclosure Instructions for the relevant year.
Yes. Under the Gifts Rule, you may accept a benefit resulting from your spouse’s outside employment, as long as the benefit has not been offered or enhanced because of your official Senate position and the benefit is customarily provided to others in similar circumstances. Because this invitation, which confers the same benefits to all invitees, was not offered because of your Senate position, and free attendance at the holiday party has been offered to all employees, accepting free attendance would be consistent with the Gifts Rule.
As with all gifts, however, you should consider whether accepting the gift may create even the appearance of impropriety, especially where the donor has business before your office or the Senate, prior to accepting the invitation.
Complete the Wedding Waiver Request Form to request a waiver to accept gifts given to you on the occasion of your wedding. If granted, the Committee will issue you an approval letter. Because the waiver is only effective for gifts received after the date of the Committee’s letter, we encourage you to complete this form well in advance of your anticipated wedding date.
Note that if you are required to file Financial Disclosure Reports, you must report all gifts you receive from any source, other than a relative, aggregating $415 or more in value (for CY 2020). For additional information about reporting gifts, please review the Financial Disclosure Instructions for the relevant year.
Probably, yes. The Gifts Rule allows you to accept free attendance at a “widely attended event” from the event sponsor. This exception requires that the event be attended by at least 25 persons from outside Congress, and be open to the public or to a range of persons interested in an issue or from throughout a given industry or profession. It also requires that you determine that attendance at the event is appropriate to the performance of your official duties. If these elements are met, the exception allows you to accept a waiver of the conference fee and any meal taken in a group setting with substantially all attendees.
The widely attended event exception does not apply to a sporting, entertainment, or other purely recreational event.
Yes. The Gifts Rule provides an exception for a bona fide, nonmonetary award offered in recognition of public service. The exception also applies to food, refreshments, and entertainment provided as part of the presentation of the award.
The exception does not apply to monetary awards (e.g., cash prizes).
Under Senate Rule 38, expenses incurred in connection with official duties must be paid from one of three primary sources of funds:
- Official (appropriated) funds. The expenditure of official funds is generally under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Rules and Administration.
- A Member’s (but not an employee’s) personal funds.
- A Member’s excess principal campaign committee funds. A Member may only use excess principal campaign committee funds to supplement their own personal office, not a Senate committee or other office. The use of excess principal campaign committee funds is further regulated by federal law, which prohibits the use of such funds for franked mail, employee salaries, office space, furniture or equipment, and any associated information technology services (excluding handheld communications devices). The expenditure of excess principal campaign committee funds is also under the jurisdiction of the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Yes. Fellowship and internship programs do not violate Senate Rule 38 provided that the program is primarily for the educational benefit of the fellow or intern, rather than being a means of performing core functions of Senate employees.
Under Senate Rule 41, fellows and interns paid by outside sources must comply with the Senate Code of Official Conduct in the same manner and to the same extent as an employee of the Senate. This includes the rules governing conflicts of interest.
Where a fellowship or internship program is funded by an outside entity, the participant may not work on issues related to the interest(s) of that entity.
Under certain circumstances, Senate Members, officers, and employees may accept necessary travel expenses from a private entity to attend a meeting, speaking engagement, fact-finding trip, or similar event connected with the official duties of that Member, officer, or employee.
To accept such travel expenses, you must obtain the Committee’s prior written approval. The rules governing privately-sponsored travel can be found in the Regulations and Guidelines for Privately-Sponsored Travel and Glossary of Terms.
For more information about accepting travel that is unrelated to your official duties, see Gifts.
To request the Committee’s approval, you must deliver a hard copy of your complete travel package to the Committee’s office in 220 Hart at least 30 days in advance of the trip. If the 30-day deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday, your travel package is due by the close of the next business day. Please use the Travel Calculator to determine the deadline for your travel package.
A list of the documents required for a complete travel package can be found here for staff, and here for Members. If the trip complies with the Committee’s regulations, the Committee will issue you a written approval letter.
No. No Senate Member, officer, or employee may accept reimbursement for necessary expenses of privately-sponsored fact-finding travel connected with the performance of official duties for travel within their duty station.
A Senator’s duty station is the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. During adjournment, sine die, or the August recess period, the Senator’s usual place of residence in the home state is also considered the Senator’s duty station.
A Senate employee’s duty station, if other than Washington, D.C., is defined as the 35 mile radius surrounding the duty station city, which is designated when the employee is appointed.
For Washington, D.C., the duty station encompasses the District of Columbia; the Maryland counties of Charles, Montgomery, and Prince Georges; the Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon, and Prince William; the Virginia cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park; and airport locations of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
The Committee has numerous resources for travel sponsors. For the complete list, see Travel Resources section below.
Probably not. If you file your post-travel paperwork with the Office of Public Records within 30 days of the conclusion of the trip, as required by the travel regulations, you are not required to report the travel expenses on your Financial Disclosure Report.
However, if you file your post-travel paperwork late, you must report the travel expenses on Part 6 (Travel) of your Financial Disclosure Report.
Trip extensions for any purpose require pre-approval from the Committee and, in the case of an employee, the approval of your supervising Senator or officer.
As a general rule, if you extend your stay for personal reasons, you are personally responsible for the cost of any incremental increases in expenses incurred because of your personal travel (including any food, lodging, or increases in airfare or other transportation costs due to the extension of the travel). The same general rule applies for extensions for an official purpose. In the case where an employee is seeking an official extension, the Senate office, and not the employee, is responsible for the increased cost. Depending on the length of your proposed trip extension, and the purpose of the extension, you or your Senate office may be required to pay part, or, in some cases, all, of your transportation costs to and from the trip location. Prior to making any travel arrangements related to your proposed trip extension for specific guidance, please contact the Committee.
No. MECEA travel falls under a separate statutory framework administered by the U.S. Department of State, so Committee approval is not required. To ensure your MECEA trip has been approved, contact the State Department’s Congressional Liaison prior to traveling.
If you are required to file Financial Disclosure Reports, you must report MECEA travel on Part 6 (Travel) of your Financial Disclosure Report. For additional information about reporting travel expenses, please review the Committee’s Financial Disclosure Instructions.