Guidelines for State Employees Concerning Meals, Gifts, Entertainment, and Travel

Ethics Regulations

What you can not do:

Kansas law prohibits a state employee from accepting or requesting meals, gifts, entertainment and travel with a few exceptions.

Meals

As a general rule, you are prohibited from soliciting or accepting free or discounted meals from a source outside state government. Exceptions to the meals rule:

  • Meals motivated by a personal or family relationship, or provided at events which are widely attended;
  • Beverages and snack foods not offered as part of a meal;
  • Meals provided at public events which you attend in your state capacity;
  • Meals provided to you when it is obvious the meal is not being provided because of your state position.

Gifts

As a state employee you are prohibited from accepting any gift. This includes, but is not limited to, pens, pencils, mugs and flowers. Exceptions to the gift rule are:

  • Tokens of appreciation, souvenirs, or other gifts valued at less than $40 given at ceremonies or public functions in your capacity as a state employee;
  • Gifts from relatives or personal friends;
  • Gifts accepted on behalf of the State.

Events

You are prohibited from accepting gifts in the form of entertainment. Entertainment includes tickets or passes to events such as plays, concerts, games, golf, hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.

Conferences

You may not receive discounts or complimentary registration fees to attend conferences and seminars from any person or company who does business with your agency.

Travel

Travel and/or lodging provided to you by any person or company who does business with your agency is prohibited. An exception to this travel expense rule exists when the state agency would be willing to pay your expenses for travel and lodging.

Family

You may not designate a friend, family member or entity (for example, a charity) to receive a gift that you cannot receive.

What you can do:

The following can be accepted without violating the law:

  • gifts given to you by someone based on a personal relationship totally unrelated to your state duties;
  • meals received when you serve as a participant or speaker in a job-related professional or educational program;
  • soft drinks, coffee or snack foods not offered as part of a meal;
  • plaques presented in recognition of your state service, or awards and plaques presented in recognition of service to the community, etc.;
  • prizes given in random drawings open to the public;
  • a rebate, discount or promotional item available to any individual or governmental agency;

Governmental Ethics Commission

The Governmental Ethics Commission issues advisory opinions upon its own initiative and upon the request of any person to whom the state law applies.

Advisory opinions serve to interpret the law and may be especially useful to public servants who are considering an activity which they suspect may involve a conflict of interests. Any person who acts in accordance with the provisions of an opinion issued to that person shall be presumed to have complied with the provisions of the conflict of interests law.

Advisory opinions issued by this Commission can be viewed on its website.

If you receive the offer of a meal, gift, entertainment or travel and you are not sure you may accept, you should consult with the Governmental Ethics Commission to determine whether it is permissible to accept it.

A violation of any of these provisions may subject you to a civil fine of up to $5,000. In addition, the Governor may reprimand or remove you from state service.

You may call or write at:
Governmental Ethics Commission
109 West 9th, Suite 504
Topeka, Kansas 66612
Ofc 785-296-4219
Fax 785-296-2548

See K.S.A. 1999 Supp 46-237a, as amended by the 2000 Legislative Session in Senate Substitute for House Bill 2627 for the provisions of this statute.

This brochure pertains to laws in effect on July 1, 2000.

Last modified: Feb 26, 2014
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