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Interpretative Opinion 05-01: Conflict of Interest

February 18, 2005

Commissioner Frank T. Winstead
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner
Single Member District 3F04
4545 Connecticut Avenue NW, #508
Washington, DC 20008

Dear Commissioner Winstead:

This responds to your request for an opinion concerning whether a potential conflict of interest would exist if ANC Commissioners accept free tickets to a men’s basketball game at George Washington University pursuant to an e-mail from Jerome DuVal, Special Assistant to the Mayor for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners and Civic Organizations in which the tickets were offered. You indicated that you believe the fair market value of each ticket exceeds $10.00 and questioned the propriety of the offer by Mr. DuVal.

Specifically, you ask whether the acceptance of the offer for the tickets by ANC Commissioners would give the appearance of non-compliance with the District of Columbia Campaign Finance Reform and Conflict of Interest Act.

DC Official Code § 1-1106.01(b) (2001 Edition) provides that “[n]o public official shall use his or her official position or office to obtain financial gain for himself or herself, any member of his or her household, or any business with which he or she or any member of his or her household is associated with, other than that compensation provided by law for said public official. This subsection shall not affect a vote by a public official: (1) on any matter which affects a class of persons (such a class shall include no less than 50 persons) of which such public official is a member if the financial gain to be realized is de minimis…”

D.C. Official Code § 1-1106.01(c) provides, “[n]o person shall offer or give to a public official or a member of a public official’s household, and no public official shall solicit or receive anything of value, including a gift, favor, service loan gratuity, discount, hospitality, political contributions, or promise of future employment, based on any understanding that such public official’s actions or judgment or vote would be influenced thereby, or where it could reasonably be inferred that the thing of value would influence the public official in the discharge of his or her duties …”

D.C. Official Code § 1-1106.02 (i) (2) states that “[m]embers of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions shall be covered under the conflict of interest provisions of § 1-1106.01”. Thus, members of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions must adhere to the conflict of interest statutes.

Based upon your representations herein, it does not appear that the distribution of the tickets to a basketball game at the George Washington University to ANC Commissioners by a Special Assistant to the Mayor would fall within prohibitions included in D. C. Official Code § 1-1106.01(b) or (c) because there is no indication that the recipients of the e-mail misused their office to obtain the tickets, or that the tickets were given by a third party to influence public officials in the discharge of their duties or where it would appear to do so. Accordingly, it does not appear that your position as an ANC for SMD 3F04, would prohibit you or any other ANC Commissioner from accepting a ticket to the event in question. There does not appear to be a conflict because there were no apparent conditions attached to the tickets. The offer, as depicted in the e-mail, suggests that the tickets are being made available on a first come first serve basis to the recipients as part of periodic giveaways to District residents which are coordinated through the Mayor’s office.

Therefore, based upon the information you have provided, it is the opinion of the Office of Campaign Finance that acceptance of tickets to a men’s basketball game at George Washington University from Mr. DuVal would not violate the District of Columbia Campaign Finance Reform and Conflict of Interest Act.