Signs of the holiday season are all around: wreaths on the doors, carols in the air...and a warning from the House Ethics Committee.
What with eggnog flowing freely and the spirit of generosity in the air, the panel’s top Democrat and Republican jointly issued a gentle reminder to their colleagues about the rules restricting the kinds of gifts that members and their staffers can accept. The rules apply “even during the holiday season,” they cautioned.
The memo goes on to outline the highlights of the rules: It’s okay to accept gifts worth less than $50 from non-lobbyists; the limit for lobbyists is a measly 10 bucks — but accepting presents of any value from relatives is just fine and dandy, etcetera.
Also worth noting, the committee pointed out, are the rules regarding which parties members and staffers can attend. “Widely attended events” are sure to be all the rage, as they’re perfectly acceptable. Receptions are fine, too, as long as the grub is only of “nominal value” (well, that depends, doesn’t it?) and there are no full meals offered.
Looks like the season of the canape-on-toothpick has arrived again.