September 28, 2017 •
OGE Legal Advisory Issued: Anonymous Contributions to Federal Employees’ Legal Defense Funds Prohibited
Today, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) issued a Legal Advisory memo explicitly stating the OGE’s view anonymous contributions to legal defense funds of federal employees are prohibited.
Legal Advisory LA-17-10 specifically refers to OGE Informal Advisory Opinion 93×21 (1993), which found employees who received anonymous donations would “be unable to favor the anonymous donors.” The new Legal Advisory memo acknowledges that shortly after the Informal Advisory Opinion was issued, the agency began “advising, and is continuing to advise, that the instruments establishing legal defense funds include a clause stating that ‘contributions shall not be accepted from anonymous sources.’”
The new memo reiterates the OGE’s position given in an interview by the head of the OGE with Politico earlier this month. The interview was made in reaction to an OGE note on the 1993 opinion that had been changed earlier this year to say the opinion’s original applicability had not changed.
Critics of the note change had said it opened the door up to lobbyists and other prohibited sources funding legal defenses for employees currently working in the White House.
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