Gifts

Topics

General Gifts Rule

No Member, officer, or employee shall knowingly accept a gift except as provided by the Gifts Rule.

A Member, officer, or employee may accept a gift, other than cash or cash equivalent, having a value of less than $50, provided that the source of the gift is not a registered lobbyist, foreign agent, or private entity that retains or employs such individuals.  The cumulative value of gifts that may be accepted from any one source in a calendar year must be less than $100.  Generally, gifts having a value of less than $10 do not count toward the annual limit.  See Senate Rule 35.1(a).

return to top
No Gifts from Lobbyists

Members, officers, and employees of the Senate may not accept any gift from a registered lobbyist or foreign agent, or an entity that employs or retains a registered lobbyist or foreign agent, unless a specific exception to the Gifts Rule applies.

return to top
Gifts Rule Exceptions

Permissible Gifts

•    Gifts from Relatives

Members, officers, and employees may accept any gift that is given by a relative (including in-laws and fiancés) regardless of value.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(3)

•    Personal Friendship

A Member, officer, and employee may accept a gift that is given on the basis of personal friendship, unless there is reason to believe that the gift was provided because of the individual’s official position and not because of the personal friendship.  However, if gift exceeds $250 in value, Members, officers, and employees must seek written approval from the Committee.   See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(4)(B).

In determining whether a gift is provided on the basis of personal friendship, one should consider:  (1)  the history of the official’s relationship with the donor, including any previous exchange of gifts, (2)  whether, to the official’s actual knowledge the donor personally paid for the gift or sought a tax deduction or business reimbursement for the it, and (3) whether, to the official’s actual knowledge, the donor at the same time gave the same or similar gifts to other Members of staff.  

•    Gifts from Colleagues

Members, officers, or employees may accept any gift from another Member, officer, or employee of the Senate or House of Representatives.  Federal law prohibits a federal employee from giving gifts to a superior and superiors may not accept gift from their employees. 5 U.S.C. § 7351.   The Committee, however, has given permission for the acceptance of gifts between and among Senate Members, officers or employees, when such gifts are given voluntarily on special occasions where gifts are traditionally given, such as marriage, retirement, birth of a child, birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(6).

•    Personal Hospitality

A Member, officer, or employee may accept a gift of personal hospitality (including food, lodging, and entertainment) provided by an individual, other than a lobbyist or a foreign agent, at that person’s residence.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(17).  This exception is exempt from both the limits of the Gifts Rule and the reporting requirements of the financial disclosure statute.  

The personal hospitality exemption is intended to cover hospitality in any personal residence that an individual owns or leases, which is unrelated to the individual’s employment.  As a general rule, to qualify for this exemption, the location should not be property which is rented out to others by the individual providing the hospitality. 

Gifts from Government Entities

•    Paid for by Federal, State, or Local Government

Members, officers, and employees may accept anything (e.g., transportation, food, lodging) that is paid for by the federal government, by a state or local government, or secured by the government under a government contract.  Additionally, the Committee has determined that under this exception a Member, officer, or employee may accept gifts from Native American groups with whom the federal government has entered into formal recognition of sovereignty (The Department of the Interior publishes a list of Federally Recognized Tribes). See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(16).

•    Foreign Governments

The U.S. Constitution prohibits government officials, including Members, officers, and employees of Congress, from receiving any present of any kind from a foreign state or representative without the consent of Congress.  Congress has consented, through the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act (FGDA), 5 U.S.C. § 7342, and the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (MECEA), 22 U.S.C. § 2451, et seq., to the acceptance of certain gifts from foreign governments. 

o    Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act

The FGDA authorizes acceptance of a gift of minimal value, currently no more than $100, when given as a souvenir or mark of courtesy.  Members, officers, and employees may accept, but not retain, a gift from a foreign government whose value is in excess of $100 when refusal of the gift would cause offense or embarrassment.  However, such gifts are deemed to be accepted on behalf of the United States.  Within 60 days of acceptance, the recipient must turn the gift over to the Secretary of the Senate for disposal.   The Committee may, upon written request, allow such a gift to be retained and used by the recipient during his/her Senate tenure. FGDA form

In regard to travel, the FGDA allows Members, officers, and employees to accept travel and travel-related expenses paid for by a foreign government, if the travel occurs completely outside the United States. 

o    Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act

MECEA authorizes the U.S. Department of State to approve cultural exchange programs between the U.S. and other countries.  Members, officers, and employees may accept travel expenses from a foreign government in order to participate in approved MECEA programs.  However, under MECEA, the traveling Member or employee may not accept travel expenses for a spouse or family member. 

return to top
Gifts Received in the Senate Office

Items of Little Intrinsic Value

Members, officers, and employees may accept an item of little intrinsic value, such as a greeting card, baseball cap, or T-shirt.  This exception also includes non-food items valued at $10 or less, and food items, flowers, and perishables that have a value of $10 or less, brought, sent, or delivered to a Senate office.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(23).

Commemorative Items

Members, officers, and employees may accept a plaque, trophy, or other item that is substantially commemorative in nature and which is intended solely for presentation.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(20).

Awards or Prizes

A Member, officer, or employee may accept an award or prize won in a contest or event that is open to the public. For example, an employee who purchases a winning lottery ticket may keep the prize money.  While a trophy or non-monetary equivalent may be accepted if it is won in an athletic competition, monetary or monetary equivalent items may not be accepted as a ‘‘prize’’ or ‘‘award’’ for winning, unless such competition is open to the public, or unless the group of competitors was chosen on the basis of athletic talent.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(10).  Awards or prizes generally may not be accepted at an event to which a Senate individual was invited due to his or her Senate position.

Any prize that exceeds $390 in value will have to be disclosed on Part V of the official’s annual Financial Disclosure Report. 

Honorary Degrees and Other Awards

A Member, officer, or employee may accept an honorary degree, or other nonmonetary award, that is presented in recognition of public service.  In addition, food or refreshments provided as a part of the presentation of such awards (e.g., a banquet or reception), as well as any entertainment provided as part of the presentation may be accepted.  If the award has a value of more than $390 (e.g., a crystal sculpture, a rare book, etc.), it must be disclosed on the gifts section the individual’s annual financial disclosure report.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(11).

Donations of Home State Products

A Member may accept donations of products (e.g., apples, peanuts, popcorn, coffee, candy, orange juice) from the state that the Member represents that are intended primarily for promotional purposes, such as display or free distribution, and are of minimal value to any individual recipient.  These products must be from the Senator’s home state, must be from home state producers of distributors, and must be available to office visitors.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(12).

Loan of Artwork and Furnishings

A Member may accept a loan of non-Senate issued art or furniture, for display in his or her office, from home-state producers or distributors (a loan may not be accepted from a home state resident who is merely a private collector).  However, fixtures (e.g., wallpaper, carpeting) may not be accepted on loan.  Loans should be approved by the Ethics Committee; the approval letters are publicly available.    See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(12).

Informational Materials

A Member, officer, or employee may accept informational materials that are sent to the Senate office in the form of books, articles, periodicals, other written materials, audiotapes, videotapes, or other forms of communication. Under this exception, such material may only be provided by the author, publisher, or producer of the materials. See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(9).

Training

A Member, officer, or employee may accept training that is in the interest of the Senate, and food and refreshments that are offered to all attendees as a part of the training.  Non-local transportation or lodging may not be accepted.  See Senate Rule 35. 1(c)(13).

For purposes of the Gifts Rule, the Committee has defined ‘‘training’’ to include any event where information is presented to Members and staff by an outside group, so long as the event is expected to be attended by at least 25 persons from more than one Senate office or Committee, in addition to those attending from outside the Senate.  Before attendance is permitted at an event under the training exception, the Member, officer, or employee must also make an affirmative determination that the training provided by the event is ‘‘in the interest of the Senate.’’

return to top
Other Permissible Gifts

Widely Available Opportunities and Benefits

Members, officers, and employees may accept certain opportunities and benefits that are available to the general public, to all federal employees, or to all members of an organization unrelated to congressional employment.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(19).

Benefits Resulting from Outside Activities

Members, officers, and employees may accept food, refreshments, lodging, and other benefits resulting from the outside business or employment activities (or other outside activities that are not connected to the duties of the official as an officeholder), or the spouse of the official, if such benefits have not been offered or enhanced because of the official’s position and are customarily provided to others in similar circumstances.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(7).

Pensions from Former Employers

Members, officers, and employees may maintain a pension or other benefit plan from a former employer without having to cash it in or roll it over upon commencing work with the Senate.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(8). However, neither the former employer nor the Member, officer, or employer nor may continue to make contributions to the pension or other benefit plan. Thus, an employee who participated in a 401(k) plan maintained by his employer would be able to keep his account with his former employer when he began working for the Senate, but neither he nor his former employer could make any additional contributions to the plan.

Bequests and Inheritances

Members, officers, and employees may accept bequests, inheritances, and other transfers at death.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(14).

Contributions to Legal Expense Trust Funds

A Member, officer, or employee may accept a contribution or other payment to a legal expense fund established for the benefit of the official that is otherwise lawfully made in accordance with the restrictions and disclosure requirements of the Ethics Committee.  However, such contribution may not be accepted from a registered lobbyist or foreign agent.  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(7).

return to top
Attendance at Events

Widely Attended Event

A Member, officer, or employee may accept an offer of “free attendance” at a widely attended event if:  (1) invited by the organizing event sponsor; (2) at least 25 persons from outside Congress will be attendance, (3) attendance at the event is open to members from throughout a given industry or profession, or to a range of persons interested in an issue; and (4) it is connected to the official’s Senate duties.   See Senate Rule 35.1(d)(1).

  • May also accept free attendance for one accompanying individual.
  • May accept a meal that is offered to all attendees as part of the event.
  • May accept local transportation to the event, if offered by the event sponsor.
  • May not accept a gift bag, unless it is valued below the Gifts Rule limit or qualifies for an exception to the rule.

Charity Events

A Member, officer, or employee may accept a sponsor’s unsolicited offer of “free attendance” from the sponsor of a charity event.  The primary purpose of the event must be to raise money for a § 501 (c)(3) organization.   See Senate Rule 35.1(d)(3).

  • May also accept free attendance for the immediate family of a Member, officer, or employee.
  • May accept a meal that is offered to all attendees as part of the event.
  • May accept reimbursement for travel and lodging expenses, if offered by the event sponsor.  However, such expenses may not be accepted if the event is substantially recreational.
  • May not accept a gift bag, unless it is valued below the Gifts Rule limit or qualifies for an exception to the rule.

Campaign or Political Events

A Member, officer, or employee may accept “free attendance” at a fundraiser sponsored by a political organization described in section 527(e) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(2).  The term “free attendance’’ includes food, refreshments, entertainment, and local transportation in connection with the campaign event.  Under this exception, a Senate Member, officer, or employee may accept a ticket to a campaign fundraiser from sources other than the sponsor of the fundraising event.  However, only a sponsoring political organization may pay other (non-local transportation, lodging, and food) expenses in connection with attendance at a fundraiser or campaign event under the Gifts Rule. 

  Constituent Events

A Member, officer, or employee may accept an offer of “free attendance” in the Member’s home state at a “constituent event,” such as a conference, forum, panel discussion, dinner event, site visit, reception, etc.  An official may accept if:  (1) the event takes place in the Member’s home state; (2) has at least 5 constituents present; (3) no lobbyists or foreign agents are present; (4) participation is in connection with official duties; and (5)  the value of any meal that is provided is less than $50.  See Senate Rule 35.1(g).

Receptions

A Member, officer, or employee may accept food or refreshments of a nominal value offered other than as part of a meal (e.g., hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, or a continental breakfast).  See Senate Rule 35.1(c)(22)

return to top
Handling Impermissible Gifts

Pay Fair Market Value or Return It

A Member, officer, or employee who inadvertently receives a gift whose value is over the dollar limit either to pay the donor the fair market value of the gift, or to return it to the donor without using it.

Sports and Entertainment Tickets

The value of a sports or entertainment ticket is the face value of the ticket.  If there is no face value, then the value is the highest face value of any ticket for the event (unless you can establish in advance with the Ethics Committee that the ticket has an equivalent value to another ticket with a face value).

Disposition of Perishable Goods

The Gifts Rule provides that if it is not practicable to return a tangible item to the donor because it is perishable (food or flowers, for example), the item may be given to an appropriate charity or discarded. The Committee has determined, however, that in those instances where it is impractical to transport a perishable item to a charity, the item may be placed in the reception area or other common area where it may be shared by constituents and other visitors to the office.  See Senate Rule 35.1(f).

return to top
Gift Waivers

The Senate Ethics Committee is authorized to grant waivers in unusual cases.  The Committee will grant requests for such waivers only where there is no potential conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety; generally, for gifts from individuals who have a long-standing personal or social relationship with the Member or employee, where it is clear the relationship is the motivating factor of the gift, rather than the fact of the individual’s office or position in the Senate.

Wedding gift waivers 

The Committee routinely waives the Gifts Rule to allow the acceptance of wedding gifts.  Those seeking a wedding gifts waiver must submit a writing request to the Committee.  See Wedding Waiver Request Form.

return to top
Gift Disclosure

Members, officers, and certain employees must file an annual financial disclosure report. Reporting individuals are required to disclose on Part V of the report the donor, description, and value of all gifts aggregating more than $390 from a single source during the year. Information on certain gifts received by the spouse or dependent of the Member or employee may need to be disclosed as well. Financial Disclosure Report

return to top
Statutory Prohibitions

Solicitation

Senate Members, officers, and employees may never solicit a gift, even if such gift would be acceptable under the Gifts Rule.  See 5 U.S.C. § 7353

Bribery and Illegal Gratuity

Senate Members, officers, and employees may not accept a gift that is offered in connection with an official action taken or asked to be taken.  Such action may be deemed a bribe or an illegal gratuity under federal criminal law.  See 18 U.S.C. § 201.

return to top
Gifts - FAQs

Q:    I was invited to an event, but the sponsor of the event employs lobbyists.  Does this mean I may not go?

A:    Yes.  Unless it meets an exception to the Gifts Rule, you may not accept the invitation.

Q:    Our office received a gift of a non-perishable item that was in excess of the Gifts Rule limit.  It would offend the donor to return the gift.  Can we just donate it to charity?

A:    No.  If a gift’s value is in excess the Gifts Rule limit and it is not a perishable item, it must be returned.  The frank may be used to return prohibited gifts.

Q:   Our office received a bouquet of flowers and we do not know who it came from.  It is clearly in excess of the Gifts Rule limit.  What should we do?

A:   Because the gift is a perishable item and impossible to return, it may be placed in the common area of the office for all visitors to enjoy, or may be donated to charity.

Q:   I am an intern who gives Capitol tours.  A constituent who I led on a tour sent me a thank-you note along with a $25 bookstore gift card.  May I keep it? 

A:   No.  Because the gift was accompanied by a thank-you for an act performed in your official capacity, it constitutes an illegal gratuity under federal law.  The gift card is also a cash equivalent that may not be accepted whether or not it was accompanied by a thank-you. 

Q:   I was given a ticket to a Washington Nationals baseball game, but the ticket has no face value.  What is the value of the ticket?

A:   Under federal law and Senate rules, if a sporting or entertainment ticket does not have a face value, its value is that of the ticket with the highest face value for the particular event, plus the value of any other items you receive for free at the event (i.e., food, parking access, etc.).

Q:   My best friend is a lobbyist.  Does this mean I cannot accept gifts from him?

A:   Not necessarily.  If you have a history of exchanging gifts with your friend, if he is personally paying for a gift, and if the gift is not given due to your Senate position, you may accept the gift.  However, if the gift is over $250 in value, you must seek and receive the Ethics Committee’s permission to accept it.

Q:   I am getting married this year and I’m worried about accepting gifts because of the Senate Gifts Rule.  What should I do?

A:   You should seek a written “wedding waiver” for gifts given to you on the occasion of your wedding.

Q:   I was invited to a charity event by someone who bought a table at the event and who wants me to sit at the table with them.  May I accept?

A:    No.  You may only accept an invitation to a charity event from the overall, organizing sponsor of the event.  “Table sponsors” are not overall, organizing sponsors of the event.

return to top

Rule XXXV

Gifts7

1. (a)(1) No Member, officer, or employee of the Senate shall knowingly accept a gift except as provided in this rule.

(2)(A)8A Member, officer, or employee may accept a gift (other than cash or cash equivalent) which the Member, officer, or employee reasonably and in good faith believes to have a value of less than $50, and a cumulative value from one source during a calendar year of less than $100. No gift with a value below $10 shall count toward the $100 annual limit. No formal recordkeeping is required by this paragraph, but a Member, officer, or employee shall make a good faith effort to comply with this paragraph.

(B) A Member, officer, or employee may not knowingly accept a gift from a registered lobbyist, an agent of a foreign principal, or a private entity that retains or employs a registered lobbyist or an agent of a foreign principal, except as provided in subparagraphs (c) and (d).

(b)(1) For the purpose of this rule, the term ‘‘gift’’ means any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value. The term includes gifts of services, training, transportation, lodging, and meals, whether provided in kind, by purchase of a ticket, payment in advance, or reimbursement after the expense has been incurred.

(2)(A) A gift to a family member of a Member, officer, or employee, or a gift to any other individual based on that individual’s relationship with the Member, officer, or employee, shall be considered a gift to the Member, officer, or employee if it is given with the knowledge and acquiescence of the Member, officer, or employee and the Member, officer, or employee has reason to believe the gift was given because of the official position of the Member, officer, or employee.

(B) If food or refreshment is provided at the same time and place to both a Member, officer, or employee and the spouse or dependent thereof, only the food or refreshment provided to the Member, officer, or employee shall be treated as a gift for purposes of this rule.

(c) The restrictions in subparagraph (a) shall not apply to the following:

(1)(A)9 Anything for which the Member, officer, or employee pays the market value, or does not use and promptly returns to the donor.

(B) The market value of a ticket to an entertainment or sporting event shall be the face value of the ticket or, in the case of a ticket without a face value, the value of the ticket with the highest face value for the event, except that if a ticket holder can establish in advance of the event to the Select Committee on Ethics that the ticket at issue is equivalent to another ticket with a face value, then the market value shall be set at the face value of the equivalent ticket. In establishing equivalency, the ticket holder shall provide written and independently verifiable information related to the primary features of the ticket, including, at a minimum, the seat location, access to parking, availability of food and refreshments, and access to venue areas not open to the public. The Select Committee on Ethics may make a determination of equivalency only if such information is provided in advance of the event.

(C)(i)10 Fair market value for a flight on an aircraft described in item (ii) shall be the pro rata share of the fair market value of the normal and usual charter fare or rental charge for a comparable plane of comparable size, as determined by dividing such cost by the number of Members, officers, or employees of Congress on the flight.

(ii) A flight on an aircraft described in this item is any flight on an aircraft that is not—

(I) operated or paid for by an air carrier or commercial operator certificated by the Federal Aviation Administration and required to be conducted under air carrier safety rules; or

(II) in the case of travel which is abroad, an air carrier or commercial operator certificated by an appropriate foreign civil aviation authority and the flight is required to be conducted under air carrier safety rules.

(iii) This subclause shall not apply to an aircraft owned or leased by a governmental entity or by a Member of Congress or a Member’s immediate family member (including an aircraft owned by an entity that is not a public corporation in which the Member or Member’s immediate family member has an ownership interest), provided that the Member does not use the aircraft anymore than the Member’s or immediate family member’s proportionate share of ownership allows.

(2) A contribution, as defined in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431 et seq.) that is lawfully made under that Act, or attendance at a fundraising event sponsored by a political organization described in section 527(e) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

(3) A gift from a relative as described in section 109(16) of Title I of the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 (5 U.S.C. App. 6).11

(4)(A) Anything, including personal hospitality,12 provided by an individual on the basis of a personal friendship unless the Member, officer, or employee has reason to believe that, under the circumstances, the gift was provided because of the official position of the Member, officer, or employee and not because of the personal friendship.

(B) In determining whether a gift is provided on the basis of personal friendship, the Member, officer, or employee shall consider the circumstances under which the gift was offered, such as:

(i) The history of the relationship between the individual giving the gift and the recipient of the gift, including any previous exchange of gifts between such individuals.

(ii) Whether to the actual knowledge of the Member, officer, or employee the individual who gave the gift personally paid for the gift or sought a tax deduction or business reimbursement for the gift.

(iii) Whether to the actual knowledge of the Member, officer, or employee the individual who gave the gift also at the same time gave the same or similar gifts to other Members, officers, or employees.

(5) A contribution or other payment to a legal expense fund established for the benefit of a Member, officer, or employee, that is otherwise lawfully made, subject to the disclosure requirements of the Select Committee on Ethics, except as provided in paragraph 3(c).

(6) Any gift from another Member, officer, or employee of the Senate or the House of Representatives.

(7) Food, refreshments, lodging, and other benefits—

(A) resulting from the outside business or employment activities (or other outside activities that are not connected to the duties of the Member, officer, or employee as an officeholder) of the Member, officer or employee, or the spouse of the Member, officer, or employee, if such benefits have not been offered or enhanced because of the official position of the Member, officer, or employee and are customarily provided to others in similar circumstances;

(B) customarily provided by a prospective employer in connection with bona fide employment discussions; or

(C) provided by a political organization described in section 527(e) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 in connection with a fundraising or campaign event sponsored by such an organization.

(8) Pension and other benefits resulting from continued participation in an employee welfare and benefits plan maintained by a former employer.

(9) Informational materials that are sent to the office of the Member, officer, or employee in the form of books, articles, periodicals, other written materials, audiotapes, videotapes, or other forms of communication.

(10) Awards or prizes which are given to competitors in contests or events open to the public, including random drawings.

(11) Honorary degrees (and associated travel, food, refreshments, and entertainment) and other bona fide, nonmonetary awards presented in recognition of public service (and associated food, refreshments, and entertainment provided in the presentation of such degrees and awards).

(12) Donations of products from the State that the Member represents that are intended primarily for promotional purposes, such as display or free distribution, and are of minimal value to any individual recipient.

(13) Training (including food and refreshments furnished to all attendees as an integral part of the training) provided to a Member, officer, or employee, if such training is in the interest of the Senate.

(14) Bequests, inheritances, and other transfers at death.

(15) Any item, the receipt of which is authorized by the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act, or any other statute.

(16) Anything which is paid for by the Federal Government, by a State or local government, or secured by the Government under a Government contract.

(17) A gift of personal hospitality (as defined in section 109(14) of the Ethics in Government Act)13 of an individual other than a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal.

(18) Free attendance at a widely attended event permitted pursuant to subparagraph (d).

(19) Opportunities and benefits which are—

(A) available to the public or to a class consisting of all Federal employees, whether or not restricted on the basis of geographic consideration;

(B) offered to members of a group or class in which membership is unrelated to congressional employment;

(C) offered to members of an organization, such as an employees’ association or congressional credit union, in which membership is related to congressional employment and similar opportunities are available to large segments of the public through organizations of similar size;

(D) offered to any group or class that is not defined in a manner that specifically discriminates among Government employees on the basis of branch of Government or type of responsibility, or on a basis that favors those of higher rank or rate of pay;

(E) in the form of loans from banks and other financial institutions on terms generally available to the public; or

(F) in the form of reduced membership or other fees for participation in organization activities offered to all Government employees by professional organizations if the only restrictions on membership relate to professional qualifications.

(20) A plaque, trophy, or other item that is substantially commemorative in nature and which is intended solely for presentation.

(21) Anything for which, in an unusual case, a waiver is granted by the Select Committee on Ethics.

(22) Food or refreshments of a nominal value offered other than as a part of a meal.

(23) An item of little intrinsic value such as a greeting card, baseball cap, or a T­shirt.

(24)14 Subject to the restrictions in subparagraph (a)(2)(A), free attendance at a constituent event permitted pursuant to subparagraph (g).

(d)(1) A Member, officer, or employee may accept an offer of free attendance at a widely attended convention, conference, symposium, forum, panel discussion, dinner, viewing, reception, or similar event, provided by the sponsor of the event, if—

(A) the Member, officer, or employee participates in the event as a speaker or a panel participant, by presenting information related to Congress or matters before Congress, or by performing a ceremonial function appropriate to the Member’s, officer’s, or employee’s official position; or

(B) attendance at the event is appropriate to the performance of the official duties or representative function of the Member, officer, or employee.

(2) A Member, officer, or employee who attends an event described in clause (1) may accept a sponsor’s unsolicited offer of free attendance at the event for an accompanying individual if others in attendance will generally be similarly accompanied or if such attendance is appropriate to assist in the representation of the Senate.

(3) A Member, officer, or employee, or the spouse or dependent thereof, may accept a sponsor’s unsolicited offer of free attendance at a charity event, except that reimbursement for transportation and lodging may not be accepted in connection with an event that does not meet the standards provided in paragraph 2.

(4) For purposes of this paragraph, the term ‘‘free attendance’’ may include waiver of all or part of a conference or other fee, the provision of local transportation, or the provision of food, refreshments, entertainment, and instructional materials furnished to all attendees as an integral part of the event. The term does not include entertainment collateral to the event, nor does it include food or refreshments taken other than in a group setting with all or substantially all other attendees.

(5)15 During the dates of the national party convention for the political party to which a Member belongs, a Member may not participate in an event honoring that Member, other than in his or her capacity as the party’s presidential or vice presidential nominee or presumptive nominee, if such event is directly paid for by a registered lobbyist or a private entity that retains or employs a registered lobbyist.

(e) No Member, officer, or employee may accept a gift the value of which exceeds $250 on the basis of the personal friendship exception in subparagraph (c)(4) unless the Select Committee on Ethics issues a written determination that such exception applies. No determination under this subparagraph is required for gifts given on the basis of the family relationship exception.

(f) When it is not practicable to return a tangible item because it is perishable, the item may, at the discretion of the recipient, be given to an appropriate charity or destroyed.

(g)(1)16 A Member, officer, or employee may accept an offer of free attendance in the Member’s home State at a conference, symposium, forum, panel discussion, dinner event, site visit, viewing, reception, or similar event, provided by a sponsor of the event, if—

(A) the cost of meals provided the Member, officer, or employee is less than $50;

(B)(i) the event is sponsored by constituents of, or a group that consists primarily of constituents of, the Member (or the Member by whom the officer or employee is employed); and

(ii) the event will be attended primarily by a group of at least 5 constituents of the Member (or the Member by whom the officer or employee is employed) provided that a registered lobbyist shall not attend the event; and

(C)(i) the Member, officer, or employee participates in the event as a speaker or a panel participant, by presenting information related to Congress or matters before Congress, or by performing a ceremonial function appropriate to the Member’s, officer’s, or employee’s official position; or

(ii) attendance at the event is appropriate to the performance of the official duties or representative function of the Member, officer, or employee.

(2) A Member, officer, or employee who attends an event described in clause (1) may accept a sponsor’s unsolicited offer of free attendance at the event for an accompanying individual if others in attendance will generally be similarly accompanied or if such attendance is appropriate to assist in the representation of the Senate.

(3) For purposes of this subparagraph, the term ‘free attendance’ has the same meaning given such term in subparagraph (d).

2.17 (a)(1)18 A reimbursement (including payment in kind) to a Member, officer, or employee from an individual other than a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal or a private entity that retains or employs 1 or more registered lobbyists or agents of a foreign principal for necessary transportation, lodging and related expenses for travel to a meeting, speaking engagement, factfinding trip or similar event in connection with the duties of the Member, officer, or employee as an officeholder shall be deemed to be a reimbursement to the Senate and not a gift prohibited by this rule, if the Member, officer, or employee complies with the requirements of this paragraph.

(2)(A)19 Notwithstanding clause (1), a reimbursement (including payment in kind) to a Member, officer, or employee of the Senate from an individual, other than a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal, that is a private entity that retains or employs 1 or more registered lobbyists or agents of a foreign principal shall be deemed to be a reimbursement to the Senate under clause (1) if—

(i) the reimbursement is for necessary transportation, lodging, and related expenses for travel to a meeting, speaking engagement, factfinding trip, or similar event described in clause (1) in connection with the duties of the Member, officer, or employee and the reimbursement is provided only for attendance at or participation for 1 day (exclusive of travel time and an overnight stay) at an event described in clause (1); or

(ii) the reimbursement is for necessary transportation, lodging, and related expenses for travel to a meeting, speaking engagement, factfinding trip, or similar event described in clause (1) in connection with the duties of the Member, officer, or employee and the reimbursement is from an organization designated under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

(B) When deciding whether to preapprove a trip under this clause, the Select Committee on Ethics shall make a determination consistent with regulations issued pursuant to section 544(b) of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007. The committee through regulations to implement subclause (A)(i) may permit a longer stay when determined by the committee to be practically required to participate in the event, but in no event may the stay exceed 2 nights.

(3)20 For purposes of clauses (1) and (2), events, the activities of which are substantially recreational in nature, shall not be considered to be in connection with duties of a Member, officer, or employee as an officeholder.

(b)21 Before an employee may accept reimbursement pursuant to subparagraph (a), the employee shall receive advance written authorization from the Member or officer under whose direct supervision the employee works. Each advance authorization to accept reimbursement shall be signed by the Member or officer under whose direct supervision the employee works and shall include—

(1) the name of the employee;

(2) the name of the person who will make the reimbursement;

(3) the time, place, and purpose of the travel; and

(4) a determination that the travel is in connection with the duties of the employee as an officeholder and would not create the appearance that the employee is using public office for private gain.

(c)22 Each Member, officer, or employee that receives reimbursement under this paragraph shall disclose the expenses reimbursed or to be reimbursed, the authorization under subparagraph (b) (for an employee), and a copy of the certification in subparagraph (e)(1) to the Secretary of the Senate not later than 30 days after the travel is completed. Each disclosure made under this subparagraph of expenses reimbursed or to be reimbursed shall be signed by the Member or officer (in the case of travel by that Member or officer) or by the Member or officer under whose direct supervision the employee works (in the case of travel by an employee) and shall include —

(1) a good faith estimate of total transportation expenses reimbursed or to be reimbursed;

(2) a good faith estimate of total lodging expenses reimbursed or to be reimbursed;

(3) a good faith estimate of total meal expenses reimbursed or to be reimbursed;

(4) a good faith estimate of the total of other expenses reimbursed or to be reimbursed;

(5) a determination that all such expenses are necessary transportation, lodging, and related expenses as defined in this paragraph;

(6)23 a description of meetings and events attended; and

(7)24 in the case of a reimbursement to a Member or officer, a determination that the travel was in connection with the duties of the Member or officer as an officeholder and would not create the appearance that the Member or officer is using public office for private gain.

(d)(1)25 A Member, officer, or employee of the Senate may not accept a reimbursement (including payment in kind) for transportation, lodging, or related expenses under subparagraph (a) for a trip that was—

(A) planned, organized, or arranged by or at the request of a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal; or

(B)(i) for trips described under subparagraph (a)(2)(A)(i) on which a registered lobbyist accompanies the Member, officer, or employee on any segment of the trip; or

(ii) for all other trips allowed under this paragraph, on which a registered lobbyist accompanies the Member, officer, or employee at any point throughout the trip.

(2) The Select Committee on Ethics shall issue regulations identifying de minimis activities by registered lobbyists or foreign agents that would not violate this subparagraph.

(e)26 A Member, officer, or employee shall, before accepting travel otherwise permissible under this paragraph from any source—

(1) provide to the Select Committee on Ethics a written certification from such source that—

(A) the trip will not be financed in any part by a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal;

(B) the source either—

(i) does not retain or employ registered lobbyists or agents of a foreign principal and is not itself a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal; or

(ii) certifies that the trip meets the requirements of subclause (i) or (ii) of subparagraph (a)(2)(A);

(C) the source will not accept from a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal or a private entity that retains or employs 1 or more registered lobbyists or agents of a foreign principal, funds earmarked directly or indirectly for the purpose of financing the specific trip; and

(D) the trip will not in any part be planned, organized, requested, or arranged by a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal and the traveler will not be accompanied on the trip consistent with the applicable requirements of subparagraph (d)(1)(B) by a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal, except as permitted by regulations issued under subparagraph (d)(2); and

(2) after the Select Committee on Ethics has promulgated regulations pursuant to section 544(b) of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, obtain the prior approval of the committee for such reimbursement.

(f)27 For the purposes of this paragraph, the term ‘‘necessary transportation, lodging, and related expenses’’—

(1) includes reasonable expenses that are necessary for travel for a period not exceeding 3 days exclusive of travel time within the United States or 7 days exclusive of travel time outside of the United States unless approved in advance by the Select Committee on Ethics;

(2) is limited to reasonable expenditures for transportation, lodging, conference fees and materials, and food and refreshments, including reimbursement for necessary transportation, whether or not such transportation occurs within the periods described in clause (1);

(3) does not include expenditures for recreational activities, nor does it include entertainment other than that provided to all attendees as an integral part of the event, except for activities or entertainment otherwise permissible under this rule; and

(4) may include travel expenses incurred on behalf of either the spouse or a child of the Member, officer, or employee, subject to a determination signed by the Member or officer (or in the case of an employee, the Member or officer under whose direct supervision the employee works) that the attendance of the spouse or child is appropriate to assist in the representation of the Senate.

(g) The Secretary of the Senate shall make all advance authorizations, certifications, and disclosures filed pursuant to this paragraph available for public inspection as soon as possible after they are received, but in no event prior to the completion of the relevant travel.

3. A gift prohibited by paragraph 1(a) includes the following:

(a) Anything provided by a registered lobbyist or an agent of a foreign principal to an entity that is maintained or controlled by a Member, officer, or employee.

(b) A charitable contribution (as defined in section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) made by a registered lobbyist or an agent of a foreign principal on the basis of a designation, recommendation, or other specification of a Member, officer, or employee (not including a mass mailing or other solicitation directed to a broad category of persons or entities), other than a charitable contribution permitted by paragraph 4.

(c) A contribution or other payment by a registered lobbyist or an agent of a foreign principal to a legal expense fund established for the benefit of a Member, officer, or employee.

(d) A financial contribution or expenditure made by a registered lobbyist or an agent of a foreign principal relating to a conference, retreat, or similar event, sponsored by or affiliated with an official congressional organization, for or on behalf of Members, officers, or employees.

4. (a) A charitable contribution (as defined in section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) made by a registered lobbyist or an agent of a foreign principal in lieu of an honorarium to a Member, officer, or employee shall not be considered a gift under this rule if it is reported as provided in subparagraph (b).

(b) A Member, officer, or employee who designates or recommends a contribution to a charitable organization in lieu of honoraria described in subparagraph (a) shall report within 30 days after such designation or recommendation to the Secretary of the Senate—

(1) the name and address of the registered lobbyist who is making the contribution in lieu of honoraria;

(2) the date and amount of the contribution; and

(3) the name and address of the charitable organization designated or recommended by the Member.

The Secretary of the Senate shall make public information received pursuant to this subparagraph as soon as possible after it is received.

5. For purposes of this rule—

(a) the term ‘‘registered lobbyist’’ means a lobbyist registered under the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act or any successor statute; and

(b) the term ‘‘agent of a foreign principal’’ means an agent of a foreign principal registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

6. All the provisions of this rule shall be interpreted and enforced solely by the Select Committee on Ethics. The Select Committee on Ethics is authorized to issue guidance on any matter contained in this rule.

______________________________________________________

7 Amended pursuant to S. Res. 158, 104–1, July 28, 1995, effective Jan. 1, 1996.

8 Subparagraph (A) renumbered and (B) added pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

9 Subclause (A) renumbered and (B) added pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

10 Subparagraph C added pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

11 As amended, S. Res. 198, 104–1, Dec. 7, 1995. See Senate Manual Sec. 918, S. Doc. 107–1, for definitions.

12 The phrase ‘‘including personal hospitality’’ inserted pursuant to S. Res. 198, 104–1, Dec.7, 1995.

13 See Senate Manual Sec. 918, S. Doc. 107–1, for definitions.

14 Clause (24) was added pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

15 Clause (5) was added pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

16 Subparagraph (g) was added pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

17 (Note: amendments to paragraph (2) pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007, take effect 60 days after enactment or the date that the Select Committee on Ethics issues new guidelines pertaining to this paragraph.)

18 Subparagraph (a)(1) was amended pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

19 Clause (2) was added pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

20 Clause (3) was renumbered and amended pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

21 Subparagraph (b) amended pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

22 Subparagraph (c) amended pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

23 Clause (6) added pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

24 Clause (7) renumbered pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

25 Subparagraph (d) added pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

26 Subparagraph (e) added pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.

27 Subparagraph (f) renumbered and subparagraph (g) renumbered and amended pursuant to Pub. L. 110–81, Sep. 14, 2007.