5.3 Additional statutory prohibitions regarding contributions and gifts

5.3.0 Additional statutory prohibitions regarding contributions and gifts

Legislative actions from the 2015 General Assembly session resulted in additional statutory restrictions prescribed in the Code of Virginia that affect the procurement ethics and actions of public employees and private entities (suppliers) alike. In addition, the Appropriations Act contains language that directly addresses the solicitation and acceptance of gifts, grants and contracts by an agency at any time.

It is important to remember that §2.2-3101 of the Code of Virginia defines "gift" very broadly:

"Gift" means any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value. It includes services as well as gifts of transportation, local travel, lodgings and meals, whether provided in-kind, by purchase of a ticket, payment in advance or reimbursement after the expense has been incurred.

"Gift" shall not include:

  • Any offer of a ticket or other admission or pass unless the ticket, admission, or pass is used.
  • Honorary degrees.
  • Any athletic, merit, or need-based scholarship or any other financial aid awarded by a public or private school, institution of higher education, or other educational program pursuant to such school, institution, or program's financial aid standards and procedures applicable to the general public.
  • A campaign contribution properly received and reported pursuant to Chapter 9.3 (§24.2-945 et seq.) of Title 24.2.
  • Any gift related to the private profession or occupation of an officer or employee or of a member of his immediate family.
  • Food or beverages consumed while attending an event at which the filer is performing official duties related to his public service.
  • Food and beverages received at or registration or attendance fees waived for any event at which the filer is a featured speaker, presenter, or lecturer.
  • Unsolicited awards of appreciation or recognition in the form of a plaque, trophy, wall memento, or similar item that is given in recognition of public, civic, charitable, or professional service.
  • A devise or inheritance.
  • Travel disclosed pursuant to the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act (§24.2-945 et seq.)
  • Travel paid for or provided by the government of the United States, any of its territories, or any state or any political subdivision of such state.
  • Travel provided to facilitate attendance by a legislator at a regular or special session of the General Assembly, a meeting of a legislative committee or commission, or a national conference where attendance is approved by the House or Senate Committee on Rules.
  • Travel related to an official meeting of the Commonwealth, its political subdivisions, or any board, commission, authority, or other entity, or any charitable organization established pursuant to §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code affiliated with such entity, to which such person has been appointed or elected or is a member by virtue of his office or employment.
  • Presents from relatives. For the purpose of this definition, "relative" means the donee's spouse, child, uncle, aunt, niece, or nephew, or first cousin; a person to whom the donee is engaged to be married; the donee's or his spouse's parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother, or sister, step-parent, step-grandparent, step-grandchild, step-brother, or step-sister; or the donee's brother's or sister's spouse.

The Appropriations Act addresses the solicitation and acceptance of donations, gifts, grants and contracts by state agencies:

§4-2.01 (a) Nongeneral Fund Revenues of the Appropriations Act contains the following language:

§4-2.01 NONGENERAL FUND REVENUES

a. SOLICITATION AND ACCEPTANCE OF DONATIONS, GIFTS, GRANTS, AND CONTRACTS: 

  1. No state agency shall solicit or accept any donation, gift, grant, or contract without the written approval of the Governor except under written guidelines issued by the Governor which provide for the solicitation and acceptance of nongeneral funds, except that donations or gifts to the Virginia War Memorial Foundation that are small in size and number and valued at less than $5,000, such as library items or small display items, may be approved by the Executive Director of the Virginia War Memorial in consultation with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security. All other gifts and donations to the Virginia War Memorial Foundation must receive written approval from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security. 
  2. The Governor may issue policies in writing for procedures which allow state agencies to solicit and accept nonmonetary donations, gifts, grants, or contracts except that donations, gifts and grants of real property shall be subject to §4-4.00 of this act and §2.2-1149Code of Virginia. This provision shall apply to donations, gifts and grants of real property to endowment funds of institutions of higher education, when such endowment funds are held by the institution in its own name and not by a separately incorporated foundation or corporation. 
  3. The preceding subdivisions shall not apply to property and equipment acquired and used by a state agency or institution through a lease purchase agreement and subsequently donated to the state agency or institution during or at the expiration of the lease purchase agreement, provided that the lessor is the Virginia College Building Authority.
  4. The use of endowment funds for property, plant or equipment for state-owned facilities is subject to §4-2.03 Indirect Costs, §4-4.01 Capital Projects-General and §4-5.03 Services and Clients of this act.