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A Member, officer, or employee may accept “[a]nything for which, in an unusual case, a waiver is granted by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.” (House Rule XXV, clause 5(a)(3)(T)).
General Waivers for Wedding and Baby Gifts. Upon receipt of an advance, written request, the Committee will grant a Member, officer, or employee a general waiver for gifts received in connection with his or her wedding, or in connection with the birth of a baby. Such general waivers are issued primarily for the convenience of the requester, and notwithstanding the issuance of the waiver, recipients should exercise caution in accepting any gift that likely would not have been offered but for the individual’s official position. As to any such gift, the individual should consider its source, nature and value, and any possible conflict with official duties.
A Member, officer, or employee who receives wedding or baby gifts that otherwise are not acceptable under the gift rule, but did not submit an advance request for a general waiver, may submit a waiver request for those gifts. However, such post-event requests should include, at a minimum, a description of each gift for which a waiver is requested, including its market value, and the identity of the donor.
The grant of a gift rule waiver by the Committee does not waive the requirement for reporting certain gifts on Schedule VI of one’s annual Financial Disclosure Statement. Generally, the Committee will waive the requirement for disclosure of wedding and baby gifts, but a separate letter requesting the disclosure waiver must be submitted to the Committee. In contrast to requests for gift rule waivers, which are kept confidential by the Committee, a request for waiver of the disclosure requirement is required by law to be made publicly available.
Other Waivers. In addition to gifts received in connection with a wedding or the birth of a baby, the Committee will also grant gift rule waivers in other “unusual case[s],” provided that “there is no potential conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety.”59 For example, when a Member or a family member becomes seriously ill, the Committee will generally grant a gift rule waiver for any flowers or floral arrangements that are received.
Any Member, officer, or employee who is offered a gift that is not otherwise acceptable under the rule, but who believes that acceptance of the gift should be allowed, should submit a written request to the Committee for a waiver. Any request should include, at a minimum, a description of the gift, including its market value, the identity of the donor, and a statement of the reasons believed to justify its acceptance.