Earlier this month, newly-installed Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens issued Executive Order 2, applying strict ethics rules to executive branch employees in that state. The order includes a ban on gifts from lobbyists, conflicts of interest rules, and a “revolving door” provision that prohibits employees who leave Greitens’ office from later lobbying his administration. The state House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a similar bill, HB 60, banning gifts from lobbyists to legislators and other elected officials. That bill now awaits action in the State Senate.
The gift rule in the executive order prohibits any employee of the executive branch, except those reporting to separately-elected officials, from soliciting or accepting any gift from a lobbyist. A gift includes anything of value, but there are some exceptions. The gift ban does not prohibit:
- unsolicited tokens or awards of appreciation; honorary degrees; and plaques and similar items, so long as they cannot be converted easily to cash;
- samples, promotional items, and similar tokens routinely given in the usual course of business to customers and suppliers;
- gifts from family members;
- gifts from other state employees;
- gifts from personal friends not motivated by the employee’s position; or
- benefits arising from the business or employment of the employee’s spouse, if not enhanced because of the employee’s position.
However, other state laws may limit these gifts.
The order also prohibits employees working directly in the Office of the Governor (not for an agency) who leave government from later lobbying the Greitens administration. Finally, state employees may not participate in matters where they may have a financial relationship with a participant that would raise questions about their partiality, or receive any benefit from a state contract that is inconsistent with “conscientious performance” of their official job.
The order comes as an important reminder that gift rules are not solely found in state bribery laws or ethics statutes. More and more states are enacting executive orders on gifts similar to this one. We have previously blogged on executive orders in Illinois and Virginia, to name just two examples.