City of San Antonio, Texas

 

Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 93

December 29, 2004

Issued By: City Attorney’s Office

 

I.  Issue 

May a city employee accept a ticket to a sports event

from a person who does business with the city?

 

 

 

I.  Factual Background

           

A city employee inquires whether the Ethics Code would preclude him from accepting a ticket to a sports event offered by an individual who works for a company that does business with the city.  

           

 

II.  The Ethics Code

A.  Gift Provisions

 

Section 2-45(a) of the City Code (Ethics Code) states:

 

General Rule.

(1)          A city official or employee shall not solicit, accept, or agree to accept any gift or benefit for himself or herself or his or her business:

(A)    that reasonably tends to influence or reward official conduct; or

(B)     that the official or employee knows or should know is being offered with the intent to influence or reward official conduct.

 

(2)          A city official or employee shall not solicit, accept, or agree to accept any gift or benefit, save and except for items received that are of nominal value and meals in an individual expense of $50 or less at any occurrence, or meals with no more than a cumulative value of $500 in a single calendar year, from a single source, from:

 

(A)    any individual or business entity doing or seeking to do business with the City; or

(B)     any registered lobbyist or public relations firm; or

(C) any person seeking or advocating on zoning or platting matters before a city body.

 

In this matter, the donor of the ticket is a person or business entity that is doing business with the city. Accordingly, the restrictions of Section 2-45(a)(2) apply.

 

Exceptions to these restrictions are listed in Section 2-45(b).  For example, under Section 2-45(b)(6) and (b)(10), an employee may accept admission to events that are connected to the employee’s official duties as a representative of the city. There is nothing in the inquiry to indicate that the employee would be attending in any representational role on behalf of the city.

 

Section 2-45(b)(13) allows a city official or employee to accept “lodging, transportation, or entertainment that the official or employee accepts as a guest up to $500 from a single source in a calendar year.”  This exception is contingent upon the recipient and the donor complying with any applicable reporting laws or regulations, and upon the recipient attending as a guest of the donor.

 

Under this exception, the employee may accept the ticket, as long as he

 

 

 

B.  Gift Reporting

 

Section 2-73 of the City Code requires that city officials as defined in Section 2-42[1] to submit annual financial disclosure statements. Within this statement, the official must report any gift received during the reporting period (calendar year) with an estimated fair market value in excess of $100.[2]                                                      

 

Section 2-78 also requires “specified employees” to submit an annual gift report, listing sources of gifts received during the reporting period with a cumulative estimated fair market value in excess of $100.[3]

 

If the employee is subject to the reporting requirements under Section 2-73 or Section 2-78, he must report the acceptance of the gift if its value exceeds $100. It is the responsibility of the employee to determine the fair market value of the gift.

 

 

III.   Conclusion

The employee may accept admission to the sports event under Section 2-45(b)(13) (the “entertainment” exception) of the City Code (Ethics Code), so long as he attends as the guest of the donor, the value of the gift does not exceed $500 and he complies with all applicable reporting requirements.  It is the responsibility of the recipient of the gift to make a good faith effort to determine the fair market value of the invitation. 

 

 

 

 

 



[1]   Section 2-42(u) defines “official” to include the following persons:

 

The Mayor;

Members of the City Council;

Municipal Court Judges and Magistrates;

The City Manager;

Deputy City Manager;

Assistant City Managers;

Assistants to the City Manager;

City Clerk;

Assistant City Clerk;

All department heads and assistant department heads;

Market Square Superintendent;

Assistant to City Council;

Assistant to Mayor;

Secretary to City Manager;

Executive Secretaries;

Community Action Manager;

Public Utilities Supervisor; and

Members of all boards, commissions (except the Youth Commission whose members are minors), committees, and other bodies created by the City Council pursuant to federal or state law or City ordinance, including entities that may be advisory only in nature; and board members of any entity who are appointed by the City Council to such board membership.

 

[2]  Exceptions to this gift reporting requirement are lawful campaign contributions, gifts received from family members within the second degree of affinity or consanguinity, gifts received among and between fellow city employees and city officials; and admission to events in which the reporting party participated in connection with official duties.  Section 2-74( n).

 

[3]   The same exceptions apply as those listed in footnote 2.