University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Frequently Asked Questions – Ethics

Question:
Is a civil union considered a “major life event” under the major life event gift exception?

Answer:
General Statutes § 46b-38nn provides: “Parties to a civil union shall have all the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under law, whether derived from the general statutes, administrative regulations or court rules, policy, common law or any other source of civil law, as are granted to spouses in a marriage, which is defined as the union of one man and one woman.” In light of this provision, the term “major life event,” shall also include a civil union.

Question:
A vendor that frequently does business with the University just sent a large fruit basket to our office as a holiday gift. May we accept it or do we need to send it back?

Answer:
A fruit or gift basket (valued at more than $10), while not acceptable if given to one person alone, may be accepted on behalf of an entire agency if the per person cost will be reduced to less than $10. This makes the gift comply with the gift exception for items of $10 or less per person. General Statutes Section 1-79(e)(16).

Question:
I have been asked to make a speech at a conference concerning a project that I have been working on in my department. The conference is in California and the organizer of the conference has offered to pay the cost of my airfare, hotel, meals and conference fees, and pay me a stipend of $500. Is this ok? Do I need to report this somewhere?

Answer:
Yes it is ok and yes you need to report it. If you are actively participating in the conference (e.g., making a speech, presenting a paper, etc.), you may accept reimbursement for “necessary expenses” associated with your participation. This means that you may accept reimbursement for airfare (in coach class, not first class), lodging for the nights before, of and after the speech or presentation (standard room, not a suite), meals, and conference and related fees (such as for materials). You may not, however, accept an honorarium or stipend for your participation. You must report reimbursement of “necessary expenses” to the Office of State Ethics within 30 days of receiving such reimbursement. General Statutes Section 1-84(k).

Complete the necessary expenses form at https://www.oseapps.ct.gov/NewLobbyist/NecessaryExpenses/NEHome.aspx.

Question:
While I’m at the conference, is it permissible for me to accept a round of golf or tickets to a show from the sponsor?

Answer:
No. The cost of a round of golf, shows, spa treatments and the like are not considered “necessary expenses” and may not be accepted (unless, of course, they cost less than $10).

Question:
I believe that someone I work with is doing something that violates the Code of Ethics. How do I file a complaint?

Answer:
You may use the University’s confidential reportline at 1-888-685-2637 to report any compliance concerns you may have. Individuals who report in good faith possible compliance issues will be afforded confidentiality and/or anonymity to the extent possible under the law. Also, you may file a complaint directly with the Office of State Ethics.