Gift Limits and Honoraria

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All the issues summarized below are discussed in detail in Fact Sheets available on the Important Publications Page.

Gifts, honoraria, and loans received by public officials and employees are restricted in several ways:

$10 Lobbyist Gift Limit: Elected state officials (including members of the legislature), and legislative employees may not accept a gift or gifts totaling more than $10 in a calendar month from any individual who is registered as a lobbyist under state law. The $10 limit also applies to gifts received by officials and employees of state agencies if their agency is listed on the registration statement of the lobbyist's employer or firm. (Gov. Code Section 86203.)

$440 Gift Limit (Effective January 1, 2013 - December 31, 2014): State and local officials and employees are prohibited from receiving a gift or gifts totaling more than $440 in a calendar year from certain sources. For elected state officials and many others, the prohibition is applicable to gifts from any source, although there are exceptions (for example, gifts from family members). For state and local officials and employees who file statements of economic interests (Form 700) under an agency's conflict of interest code, the gift limit is applicable only to individuals and entities that would have to be disclosed on the Form 700. This gift limit is adjusted every odd-numbered year. (Note: Judges are not subject to the Act's gift prohibitions, but are covered by the Code of Civil Procedure.) (Gov. Code Section 89503.)

Honoraria: An honorarium is a payment received for making a speech, publishing an article, or attending any public or private conference, convention, meeting, social event, meal or similar gathering. State and local elected officers and candidates for those offices and all officials holding positions listed in Government Code Section 87200 are prohibited from receiving honoraria payments. Likewise, an employee designated under a state or local government agency's conflict of interest code is prohibited from receiving honoraria payments from any source of gifts or income the employee is required to report on his or her statement of economic interests. Some limited exceptions apply, such as income earned from a bona fide business or profession. (Section 89502.)

Exceptions for Travel: Certain payments for travel are excluded from the gift limits and honoraria prohibition.

Loan Restrictions: Public officials who are required to file statements of economic interest or who are exempt employees may not receive any personal loan aggregating more than $250 from an official, employee, or consultant of, or from anyone who contracts with, their governmental agencies. In addition, elected officials may not receive any personal loan aggregating more than $500 from a single lender unless certain terms of the loan are specified in writing. Under certain circumstances, a personal loan that is not being repaid or is being repaid below certain amounts may become a gift to the official who received it. (Gov. Code Sections 87460-87462.)

(Revised 01-12-2012)