November 13, 2013 •
Officialʹs Receipt of Complimentary Tickets Reviewed by Hawaii State Ethics Commission
The Hawaii State Ethics Commission issued four Informal Advisory Opinions pertaining to a state official’s receipt of complimentary event tickets. A state agency may have a legitimate state interest in giving an agency board member a ticket to an agency event. In that scenario the tickets are not considered “gifts” under Hawaii gift law. Rather, they are “state assets” and distribution must be evaluated in accordance with the fair treatment law under the State Ethics Code.
Agency board officials may accept two complimentary tickets per agency event – one for the official and the other for the official’s spouse or significant other. An official’s use of complimentary tickets for additional personal guests constitutes unfair compensation and is, therefore, prohibited. Moreover, transferring complimentary tickets to family members to attend events in the official’s place is also a likely violation of the fair treatment law.
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