CEO 91-45 -- July 19, 1991
DISCLOSURE OF ITEMS RECEIVED BY CITY MAYOR
FROM GOLF TOURNAMENT SPONSOR
AND LEAGUE OF CITIES
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
A city mayor would not be required to disclose as gifts items she receives from the sponsor of an annual professional golf tournament held within the city, where the mayor contributes a substantial amount of time as a member of the tournament's executive committee assisting with the promotion and operation of the golf tournament. Section 112.312(9)(a), Florida Statutes, as amended by Chapter 90-502, Laws of Florida, recognizes the concept of quid pro quo in relation to gifts. Where equal or greater consideration is given by the recipient in her private capacity to the donor, the items do not constitute gifts which would have to be disclosed. Similarly, where the mayor is a director of the Florida League of Cities and as such must travel to attend its meetings, the mayor would not be required to disclose as a gift the reimbursement of her travel expenses she receives from the organization.
Is a city mayor required to disclose as a gift items she receives from a golf tournament sponsor for her assistance in promoting and operating a professional golf tournament within the city as a member of the tournament's executive committee, where the total value of the items exceeds $100?
Your question is answered in the negative, subject to the conditions noted below.
In your letter of inquiry and in a telephone conversation with our staff, you advise that the Mayor of the City of Lauderhill invests a considerable amount of time on a voluntary basis assisting with the promotion and operation of a professional golf tournament that is held annually in the City, as a member of the tournament's executive committee. You advise that the Mayor is the only elected municipal officer active on the executive committee for the tournament, and that in addition to obtaining and organizing volunteers to assist with the tournament, she also coordinates municipal services for the event. Further, you relate that the Mayor, as well as the other 15 to 20 persons who are active on the executive committee, receive several items from the sponsor for their efforts on the tournament's behalf. You advise that these items consist of 2 sets of passes to the week-long tournament, a t-shirt, a canvas bag, and admission into a hospitality tent where free food and beverages are available during the tournament. You believe that the combined value of these items exceeds $100, and you question whether the Mayor must disclose these items as gifts on her Form 9.
Section 112.312(9), Florida Statutes, as amended by Chapter 90-502, Laws of Florida, provides in relevant part:
(a) "Gift," for purposes of ethics in government and financial disclosure required by law, means that which is accepted by a donee or by another on the donee's behalf, or that which is paid or given to another for or on behalf of a donee, directly, indirectly, or in trust for his benefit or by any other means, for which equal or greater consideration is not given, including:
3. Tangible or intangible personal property.
8. Food or beverage, other than that consumed at a single sitting or event.
10. Entrance fees, admission fees, or tickets to events, performances, or facilities.
14. Any other similar service or thing having an attributable value not already provided for in this section.
(b) "Gift" does not include:
4. An award, plaque, certificate, or similar personalized item given in recognition of the donee's public, civic, charitable, or professional service.
6. Food or beverage consumed at a single sitting or event.
You question whether Section 112.312(9)(b)4, Florida Statutes, as provided above, would exclude the items provided by the tournament sponsor from being considered as gifts which would have to be reported. Although the items may have been provided to the Mayor in recognition of her service to the golf tournament, we do not believe the entire package, which included two passes to the tournament and admission to a hospitality tent, to be the types of awards contemplated by the Legislature in enacting this provision. If the t-shirt and canvas bag were personalized with the Mayor's name, these items could be considered under this provision. The other items, however, could not. Therefore, this provision alone does not excuse the Mayor from having to report all of the items as gifts.
Concerning the hospitality tent, where the tournament event is of a limited duration, we would consider any beverages or food consumed at the tournament to come under the exclusion contained in Section 112.312(9)(b)6, Florida Statutes. Thus, this perquisite provided to members of the executive committee by tournament sponsors would not constitute a gift which the Mayor would have to report.
Concerning the two sets of admission passes to the tournament, and the t-shirt and canvas bag if not personalized, the Legislature recognized the concept of quid pro quo when it enacted Chapter 90-502, Laws of Florida. That concept is included in the definition of a gift at Section 112.312(9)(a), Florida Statutes, as provided above. Where the recipient provides equal or greater consideration than that which is given by the donor, it does not constitute a gift.
Here, you have advised that the Mayor recruited and coordinated volunteers to work at the tournament, as well as helped organize several functions where tournament volunteers were recognized. In addition to these activities, you advise that the Mayor also assisted with the coordination of municipal services for the event.
We are of the view that the concept of quid pro quo would never be applicable to a situation where the public officer used her official position to render official services on behalf of her public agency. In this situation, if the services the Mayor provided as a member of the tournament's executive committee involved only the coordination of municipal services on behalf of the tournament, then the concept of quid quo pro would not be applicable. However, we are advised that in this case the majority of the services provided by the Mayor were provided by her in her private capacity. You relate that her main efforts involved her work with the volunteers. Based upon the foregoing, we are therefore of the view that the items from the golf tournament sponsor did not constitute gifts which would have to be reported, because equal or greater consideration was given by the Mayor in her private capacity in exchange.
Additionally, you reference Section 112.3148(7)(b), Florida Statutes, and question whether the Mayor would be required to report the items due to the fact that she and the other volunteers provide a considerable amount of time to the tournament sponsor in helping to promote and operate the golf tournament. Section 112.3148(7)(b), Florida Statutes, provides:
Compensation provided by the donee to the donor shall be deducted from the value of the gift in determining the value of the gift.
In your view, the time donated by the Mayor could constitute compensation, and you question how to calculate the value of the Mayor's time in this situation.
In our opinion, the Legislature did not intend for this provision to offset the value of a gift where the recipient has donated time or services for the benefit of the donor. Instead, this provision would be applicable where the recipient actually compensated the donor for the gift or a part thereof. For example, where a donor gave a trip costing $500 to the recipient, and the recipient paid the donor $400, the gift would be valued at $100 pursuant to Section 112.3148(7)(b), Florida Statutes. Therefore, this provision is not applicable in this situation.
Accordingly, the tournament passes, the t-shirt, the canvas bag, and admission to the hospitality tent during the tournament, do not constitute gifts which would have to be disclosed by the Mayor on her Form 9. However, nothing in this opinion relieves the reporting individual from having the ultimate responsibility for adequately determining whether the services provided by the donee equal or exceed that which is given by the donor.
Would the Mayor be required to disclose as a gift travel expenses she receives from the League of Cities, when she is a Director of the organization and travels to attend its meetings?
Your question is answered in the negative, under the circumstances presented.
You advise that the Mayor is a Director of the Florida League of Cities. In that capacity, the League reimburses the Mayor for her travel expenses when she travels to attend meetings of the organization. The Mayor receives no compensation from the League for her services as a Director. Finally, you advise that her travel expenses normally exceed $100.
As stated in our response to Question 1, the Legislature in enacting Chapter 90-502, Laws of Florida, recognized the concept of quid pro quo in relation to gifts. Because the Mayor serves the organization as a Director and would reasonably be expected to attend its meetings where business is conducted, the travel expenses for which she is reimbursed would not be reportable as a gift, as we consider that as her services to the organization would be of equal or greater value than the reimbursement she receives. Where each Director is reimbursed for travel expenses incurred in attending Board meetings, we will give great weight to the organization's implicit determination that the services of its Directors are worth the funds expended to secure their presence at the meetings, when evaluating whether this constitutes "equal or greater consideration" under the gift law. However, as also noted in Question 1, nothing in this opinion relieves the reporting individual who claims that the reimbursement for travel is not a gift from having the ultimate responsibility for adequately determining that she is in fact giving quid pro quo, in other words, that the value of her time or services as a Director equal or exceed the value of the trip.
Your question is answered accordingly.