Gift and Gratuities

As a general rule, acceptance of a gift by a public official or public employee from persons, other than from a spouse, children or specified other relatives, is unethical and not allowed. There is good reason for this! In serving the public interest, both public officials and public employees are expected to be free from the influence of private or business interests.
  1. What is a Gift?
  2. Acceptable Gifts
  3. Unacceptable Gifts
  4. Soliciting or Receiving Money for Advice or Assistance?
  5. Acceptance of Honoraria

 


What is a Gift?

A "Gift" means a payment or enrichment where consideration of equal or greater value is not received. It includes a rebate or discount in the price of anything unless it is made in the ordinary course of business to a member of the public. The following are not gifts and may be accepted:

  • informational materials such as books, reports, pamphlets, calendars, or periodicals,
  • something received that is not used but within 30 days is either returned to the donor or delivered to a charitable organization, and is not claimed as a charitable contribution for tax purposes,
  • something received from a spouse, child, or other specified relatives, unless they are an intermediary for someone else, or
  • a personalized plaque or trophy with a value not exceeding $500, an inheritance, or a reportable campaign contribution.

Acceptable Gifts

Public service awards, commercially reasonable loans, reportable political contributions, and reasonable hosting furnished in connection with a public event, appearance, or ceremonies related to the CNMI business may be accepted unless given either anonymously, or with a mutual understanding that any public official/employee/contractor's vote, action, decision, or judgement, would be influenced.

A gift may be accepted on behalf of the CNMI by any official or employee, or their spouse or minor child, provided they report it to the Office of the Public Auditor and the Director of Finance who will add it to the inventory of CNMI property.

Download the form here.


Unacceptable Gifts

  • Persons shall not give an anonymous gift to any public official or public employee, or to a spouse or minor child of them, nor shall any of them solicit or accept any such gift.
  • Persons shall not give or offer to give anything of value including a gift, favor or promise of future employment, to any CNMI public official, public employee, or contractor, or to their spouses or minor children, (nor may any of them accept anything of value) where there is a mutual understanding that votes, official actions, decisions or judgments of that official, employee, or contractor concerning CNMI business would be influenced, unless it involves a non-monetary gift with a value of less than $50.
  • Persons with an economic interest in a CNMI business service or regulatory transaction shall not give any gift to any CNMI judicial officer or public employee (or to their spouse or minor child) whose decision or action may substantially affect such transaction; and such officers/employees shall not accept any gift other than an occasional non-cash item or service with a value of less than $50 or a gift from a relative.
  • Public officials/employees, business associates, or immediate family members shall not solicit or accept anything of value from someone:
    1. regulated by or providing goods or services to their government entity;
    2. who has offered, or has expressed an intention, to provide travel expenses, goods or services to a member of their government entity; or
    3. who previously was regulated by, or who provided goods and services, to their government entity when that thing was promised, offered, or received within one year of the end of the relationship between the donor and the government.

Soliciting or Receiving Money for Advice or Assistance?

Public officials, public employees, and their spouse or minor children:

  • shall not solicit or accept any thing of value, in return for advice or assistance on matters concerning CNMI operations or business.
  • may, however, accept compensation for services wholly unrelated to their CNMI duties and responsibilities when rendered as part of their non-CNMI employment, occupation or profession.

Acceptance of Honoraria

Public officials/employees shall not accept:

  • an honorarium for a speech or article, unless the subject matter of the speech or article is unrelated to their responsibilities.
  • an honorarium of more than $1000 exclusive of travel and subsistence expenses for any speech, article, or honoraria totaling more than $10,000 in any calendar year.

Public officials or employees are not considered to have accepted an honorarium if it is paid to a charitable organization selected by the payor from a list of five or more charitable organizations provided.

 

If you are offered a gift and have any doubt about whether you should accept it, you should consult with the Public Auditor.

 


Note: The information above is not a complete analysis of the Ethics Code and is intended as a guide only