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City of San Antonio, Texas

Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 2011-06
May 04, 2011
Issued By: City Attorney’s Office

 

I.  Issue

May an employee of the Animal Care Services Department accept complimentary tickets to a movie premiere from a former animal rescuer?

II. Inquiry:

An employee of the Animal Care Services Department worked with an individual for some time in an attempt to transfer a rescued animal to California.   Subsequent to the transfer, the individual and employee struck up an email friendship, whereby they communicated for several months on a regular basis.  The individual emailed the City staff and offered her tickets to a Los Angeles movie premiere.  No travel or lodging expenses were offered to be paid.    

III. The Ethics Code:

Section 2-45 (a)(1) of the City's Ethics Code prohibits city officials and employees from soliciting or accepting gifts where the gift is intended to influence or reward official conduct. 

Section 2-45(b) of the rule prohibits city officials and employees from soliciting or accepting gifts in three specific instances:  first, where the gift is from a person seeking to do or doing business with the city, second, if the gift is from a registered lobbyist, and third, if the gift is from someone seeking a zoning or platting decision from the City. This rule has several exceptions, including gifts of nominal value, which has been interpreted as being $50.00 or less.

There is no indication that the individual is attempting to influence or reward official conduct of city employees.  The individual does not meet the criteria of section 2-45(b).  Because neither prong of the test is met, there is no impediment to the employee’s acceptance of the movie premiere tickets.

IV. Conclusion

The Ethics Code contains no prohibition to the city employee accepting the two movie premiere tickets.