Report on Gift Laws Part B: Gifts to City Departments

Issued: September 29, 2021

Beginning in January 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a series of criminal corruption charges against multiple City officials, employees, and contractors, alleging numerous instances in which individuals seeking favorable outcomes from City government provided meals, travel, luxury goods, and other gifts in an attempt to influence the actions of City officials and employees. In the wake of those charges, in 2020 the Ethics Commission identified a Government Ethics and Conflicts of Interest Review as its top policy project.  This project is designed to ensure that the City’s ethics laws and governmental processes promote fairness and equity for all residents and maintain public trust in governmental institutions. The project is principally focused on analyzing unethical conduct revealed through the multiple ongoing corruption investigations and on identifying policy approaches to prevent similar conduct in the future.

The Report on Gift Laws Part B: Gifts to City Departments details Staff findings and recommendations from the Commission’s second phase of the project. It recommends changes to City laws controlling the flow of gifts from restricted sources to City officials through City departments and non-City entities. The report also recommends the creation of a single, standardized disclosure requirement for gifts made to City departments, which can be easily accessed by the public. These recommendations are intended to prevent pay-to-play corruption and the appearance of undue influence, both of which undermine City processes and the public’s trust in local government. The proposals seek to identify loopholes and oversights in the local laws that impede the overall effectiveness of gift laws and, over time, can lead to an organizational culture that does not value or seek to comply with gift rules. The recommendations follow a process that included stakeholder engagement, including interested persons meetings held in October 2020 and April 2021. This report is a continuation of the Report on Gift Laws – Gifts to Individuals, published in August 2021.

This report will be presented at the meeting of the Ethics Commission on October 8, 2021 to receive public comment and enable the Commission to consider and potentially take action on the report’s recommendations. For information on how to submit public comment for the October 8 meeting please visit the Commission’s Meetings page.

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