In November of 2003, the State of Illinois adopted the Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act that required all units to adopt comparable or more restrictive local legislation.
Gift Ban Act and local ethics ordinance compliance at IGFOA sponsored events
In 2005 the Illinois Government Finance Officers Association reviewed program and registration policies and practices to assure consistency with 5ILCS 430/10-10, the Illinois Ethics Act, also referred to as the Gift Ban Act. We also took into account input from members working under more restrictive local ethics ordinances. Our review yielded three specific areas where we could continue or improve our policies and practices to better serve members and reduce the Association’s exposure: third party payments, raffles and drawings, and disclosure of sponsored events.
Third party payments:
In 2003 we adopted a policy of not accepting third party payments for any type of association fee for state-wide events. This came about as a result of time and ill will incurred in collecting third party payments for those events. The Association extended that policy to include all Chapter events beginning in December 2005.
In reviewing the Gift Ban Act, legal counsel advised that we continue this policy. While IGFOA may not be held directly liable for Gift Ban violations by public sector members, the Association would likely incur damage to our reputation and might be dragged into legal action by third parties claiming IGFOA “facilitated” the transaction. Counsel advised that one of the oft misunderstood sections of the Gift Ban Act is the 2002 amendment that curbs acceptance of gifts from a prohibited source during any calendar year where those gifts have a cumulative total value of $100 or more. Even if an IGFOA fee is less than $100, acceptance of third party payments for such a fee exposes the Association's reputation to risk should that “gift” contribute to an accumulated total of $100 or more.
Raffles, drawings, and prizes
Beginning in 2004, we decided to refrain from prize drawings at the Annual Conference and other IGFOA state association events. In addition, we worked with Chapter Boards, Associates, and Exhibitors to identify considerations involved in holding a drawing or giving sponsored prizes, namely:
- Understand the Gift Ban Act prohibitions
- Respect that members may be further controlled by local ethics ordinances
- Allow participants to opt-in, do not automatically include all registrants in a drawing
- Minimize social peer pressure to participate in a drawing
- The “reputation” risks noted above likewise apply to drawings.
Legal counsel recommended, and the Executive Board concurred, that when IGFOA or its Chapters host an event that is sponsored by potential prohibited sources, we should disclose how much of the per person cost is funded by each source to help public sector members track their own compliance with the cumulative value of “gifts”. This also provides a mechanism for members with more restrictive local ethics ordinances to participate by reimbursing the respective vendors. IGFOA began including such disclosures on registration forms in 2006.