Sometimes vendors with public contracts offer gifts to local government employees to foster goodwill. Although vendor relationships can be cordial, they should not involve gifts to public employees.
City officials, county officials, and independent school district school board members, superintendents, principals and officers are subject to Minn. Stat. §471.895, which generally bans gifts. There are certain exceptions, such as a trinket or memento costing $5 or less. In addition, under Minn. Stat. §471.87, a public officer authorized to take part in making a contract in any manner generally is not allowed to have a personal financial interest in the purchase.
To avoid problems, government employees should not accept personal gifts from vendors or contractors. We recommend that entities create an ethics policy that expressly prohibits officers and employees from accepting personal gifts from vendors or contractors.
Date this Avoiding Pitfall was most recently published: 10/4/2019