Events With Constituent Organizations
The Standards Committee has also recognized that the gift rule was not intended to interfere with Members carrying out their conventional representational duties, and that meetings or events with constituent organizations may sometimes be attended by only a few constituents, particularly when the organization is from a state with a small or diffuse population. Such events may not satisfy the numeric requirement for widely attended events.
Accordingly, the Committee has also granted a general waiver for Members and staff to accept free attendance (including meals) at meetings or events sponsored by constituent organizations, regardless of the number of constituents in attendance or the location of the event, provided that the meeting or event is:
- Regularly scheduled (such as an annual visit to Washington, D.C.);
- Related to the official duties or representative function of the Member or employee attending the event; and
- Open to members of the constituent organization (as opposed to only officers or board members).
Examples of constituent organizations covered by this waiver include, but are not limited to, civic associations, senior citizens organizations, veterans groups, and business, trade or professional associations (e.g., associations of lawyers, nurses, bankers, teachers, or farmers).
Example 29. A civic association in a small town in Member A’s district invites him to one of its periodic luncheon meetings of its membership. If the Member determines that his attendance would be related to his official duties or representative function, he may attend and accept the lunch under this waiver.
Example 30. A veterans group in Member B’s district invites her to a Veterans Day dinner with its members at the local VFW hall. If B determines that her attendance would be related to her official duties or representative function, she may attend and accept the dinner.
Example 31. The real estate agents association of a state holds its annual Washington “fly-in.” All members of the association are invited, and usually about 20 agents come. One of the events on the agenda is a dinner for the congressional delegation. Each delegation member who determines that attendance would be related to his or her official duties or representative function may attend and accept the dinner.
Example 32. A real estate agent comes to Washington for the association “fly-in” described in the previous example. He is the only agent from Member C’s district who makes the trip, and he would like to have lunch with his representative. Since the lunch is not an association event, the Member cannot accept the lunch under this waiver.