DYK Congressional staff can’t accept a cuppa coffee from lobbyists?
October 7, 2020
If you had an opportunity to break a habit would you? Voters in California’s 30th Congressional District have less than 30 days to CHANGE.
Did you know the House of Congress has specific rules regarding receiving a cup of coffee from a lobbyist?
A lobbyist invites a staff person out for a cup of coffee to discuss the status of a pending bill. The staff person is free to meet with the lobbyist, but because the occasion is not a reception the staff person may not accept a cup of coffee from the lobbyist even though the item is of low cost and offered other than as a part of a meal.
Food or Refreshments of a Nominal Value (Attendance at Receptions)
The House gift rule provides that a Member, officer, or employee may not knowingly accept any gift except as provided in the rule.
The rule is comprehensive, i.e., a House Member or staff person may not accept anything of value from anyone – whether in one’s personal life or one’s official life – unless acceptance is allowed under one of the rule’s provisions.
The rule defines the term “gift” in an extremely broad manner:
. . . a gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value. [House Rule 25, clause 5(a)(2)(A).]
This provision goes on to state,
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.
Members and staff should also note that this gift rule provision (House Rule XXV, clause 5(a)(1)(B)) does not affect the prohibition against accepting food or beverages from any private organization or individual for any event sponsored by a House office, such as a meeting, a conference, or a briefing.
So the question worth asking? Who monitors all such wining & dining? And is anyone ever held accountable for the ill gotten cup of coffee? What about the third and fourth martini?