The Ethics in Government Act of 1990 contains four different articles:

Article 1: Honoraria

Article 2: Gifts

Article 3: Travel

Article 4: Campaign Funds

Article 1 defines honoraria as any payment made in consideration for a speech that is given, any article that is published, or attendance at a public or private conference, convention, meeting, social event, meal, or similar gathering. However, earned income for personal services, which are customarily provided in connection with the practice of a bonafide business trade or profession are excluded from the definition. The law prohibits any elected official, including a state officer, local government agency, or other specified individuals from receiving honorarium. In addition, no candidate for elected state office, for judicial office, or for elected office in a local government agency is allowed to accept any honorarium.

Article 2 prohibits elected officials from accepting gifts with a total value of more than $250 in any calendar year from a single source. In addition, no member of a state board or commission, certain designated state employees, or local government agencies are allowed to accept gifts in a calendar year from a single source for more than $250 adjusted annually. This amount is adjusted for inflation every year based on the California Consumer Price Index. In 2020, the amount is over $500. The law does not prohibit or limit payments, advances, or reimbursements for travel and lodging, or for wedding gifts, or gifts that are exchanged between individuals on birthdays, holidays, or similar occasions provided that the gifts exchanged are not substantially disproportionate in value.

Article 3 provides that any payments, advances or reimbursements for travel that are for actual transportation and related lodging and subsistence, must be reasonably related to a legislative or governmental purpose or to an issue of state, national or international public policy.

Article 4 requires candidates for elected state office to only accept contributions within the specified limits of the law. Campaign contributions in a campaign account are deemed to be held in trust for expenses associated with the election of that candidate or for expenses associated with holding that particular office. The rest of this article four basically sets forth the use of campaign funds for specific expenditures. For example, campaign funds may not be used to pay or reimburse the candidate or the elected officer or any individual who has authority to spend the campaign funds for travel expenses, except those that are directly related to a political legislative or governmental purpose.

You can find the full transcript of the audio in today’s podcast here.

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