WA Ethics Board Limits Free Meals for Legislators - State and Federal Communications

October 15, 2014  •  

WA Ethics Board Limits Free Meals for Legislators

WashingtonThe Washington Legislative Ethics Board held a board meeting on October 14, 2014 to finalize rules defining “infrequent occasions” in the context of free meals accepted by state legislators. Section 42.52.150(5) of the Revised Code of Washington allows public officials to accept gifts in the form of food and beverage on infrequent occasions so long as attendance at such a meal is related to the performance of official duties. The Board voted unanimously to define infrequent occasions as up to 12 meals total per calendar year.

The scope of the rule is limited to food and beverage paid for by a registered lobbyist or lobbyist employer. A qualifying meal under the rule is breakfast, lunch, or dinner, regardless of cost, when the guest would normally be expected to sit down and eat, such as in a restaurant or private residence.

The Board was careful to maintain the exceptions in the Ethics Act permitting public officials to accept complimentary food and beverages at hosted receptions and in other limited circumstances.

This rule takes effect January 1, 2015.

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