Gift Resource Center Updated to 2017-2018 Limits
Understanding California's Gift Rules for Public Officials
Should one decide to enter the gift maze, this resource center helps local officials navigate the rules. These materials reflect the updated gift limits for 2017-2018 ($470).
Gift Rule Goals
The goal underlying California’s gift reporting and gift limits is to prevent either the perception or the reality that gift giving influences public officials’ actions. This is because public agency actions should always promote the public’s interests, as opposed to narrow personal or political interests.
Basic Gift Rules
1. Gifts worth $50 or more must be reported on one’s Statement of Economic Interests. For purposes of this rule, gifts from a single source are combined. This means one must report what one received when the total value of a series of gestures from a single gift-giver reaches $50 or more. Those subject to gift rules must therefore keep a running tally of smaller gifts in case the total value of gifts received from one source adds up to $50 or more over the course of a year. Gifts from lobbyists or lobbying firms are limited to $10/month.
2. The annual gift limit is $470 from a single source per calendar year. As a general rule, a public official may not accept a gesture that’s worth $470 (2017-2018 limit amount) or more. Similarly, a public official may not accept a series of gestures over the course of a calendar year from the same gift-giver that total $470 or more.
3. A public official may have to step aside from participating in the decision-making process. If one accepts a gesture or a series of gestures with a value of $470 or more from a single gift-giver in the twelve months preceding an official decision affecting that person, one may have to disqualify oneself from participating in that decision-making process.
Questions for Public Officials to Ask
To determine how or whether the gift rules apply, ask the following: