Last week, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) issued a memorandum with a reminder about executive branch ethics rules governing holiday gifts and fundraising. There is nothing unusual about guidance like this—late last month, for example, the House Ethics Committee issued one for House members and staff—but OGE’s guidance stands out for its poetic formulation: the rules are set out in verse. For instance, capturing the family and friends exception to the gift cap, the guidance provides:
For gifts that a friend or my sister might send,
The rules recognize I don’t want to offend.
Regardless of value,
It only must be
That their motive to give wasn’t business, but me.
The poem was originally circulated in 1994. It was updated in 2009 to reflect the Obama Ethics Pledge and foreign gift ban. This year’s version captures the current foreign gift limit (“When foreign officials are giving the gift,/The rules are less strict so I don’t cause a rift./I can take it if/Fair market value U.S./Is three hundred fifty dollars or less.”).
And they say that government ethics lawyers don’t have a sense of humor.