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Honorary Degrees and Nonmonetary Public Service Awards
Honorary degrees are acceptable, as are travel, food, refreshments, and entertainment that are provided in connection with the award of an honorary degree (House Rule XXV, clause 5(a)(3)(K)). In addition, under the same provision of the gift rule, “bona fide, nonmonetary awards presented in recognition of public service” are acceptable, along with food, refreshments, and entertainment provided in connection with the presentation of such awards.
This provision allows only the acceptance of a “bona fide” award – a condition that is particularly significant when the award is an item having significant monetary value, such as a crystal sculpture. In determining whether an award is indeed “bona fide,” among the important considerations are the nature of the awarding organization, whether the award is made as part of an established program and has been made on a regular basis, whether in the past non-congressional individuals have been recipients of the award, and whether there are specific, written criteria for the selection of the awardees. If the award is an item that exceeds $335 in value, and the recipient is a Member or officer, or an employee who files a Financial Disclosure Statement, the award must be disclosed on Schedule VI of the individual’s filing for the year in which the award was received.
A public service award that consists of an amount of money is not acceptable under this provision. Similarly, where an award includes both an item and an amount of money, the monetary aspect of the award is not acceptable under this provision. A Member, officer, or employee who is offered a public service award that consists of or includes an amount of money may submit a written request for a gift rule waiver to the Committee.