PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION SUPPORTING LEGISLATION CALLING FOR A BAN ON GIFTS TO PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES
WHEREAS, Pennsylvanians are entitled to expect that their public officials and employees will act in the public interest, conduct the affairs of government with honesty and integrity and will not profit from their positions; and
WHEREAS, Pennsylvanians are entitled to expect that their public officials and employees will adhere to a set of high standards in the solicitation and/or receipt of gifts; and
WHEREAS, current Pennsylvania law regarding the solicitation and/or receipt of gifts by public officials and employees falls short in providing the high standards that will ensure transparency and integrity in government; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 885, Printer's No. 1210 and House Bill 43, Printer's No. 37, currently pending in the General Assembly, would prohibit a public official or employee from soliciting or accepting, directly or indirectly, any transportation, lodging or hospitality or anything of economic value from anyone who has or seeks a contractual relationship with the Commonwealth, who is a lobbyist, who conducts activities regulated by the recipient or who has an economic interest which may be substantially affected by the recipient's official job duties; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 885, Printer's No. 1210 and House Bill 43, Printer's No. 37 contain exceptions to the gift ban, including gifts from friends; and
WHEREAS, defining who is a "friend" is elusive and dependent upon individual, subjective interpretation; potentially leading to confusion and inconsistency in the application of the proposed statute to an individual case; and
WHEREAS, an exception for gifts from friends may lead to abuse or the appearance of impropriety, undermining the public's confidence that public officials and employees are acting solely in the public interest; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 885, Printer's No. 1210 and House Bill 43, Printer's No. 37 would be significantly strengthened by amending them to remove the exception for gifts from friends.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the General Assembly to pass and the Governor to sign Senate Bill 885, Printer's No 1210 and/or House Bill 43, Printer's No. 37, with amendments to exclude the exception on gifts from friends, or any similar legislation to restore the public's confidence in government through a ban on the solicitation or receipt of gifts by public officials and employees.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor and/or the Chancellor's designee(s) communicate the Philadelphia Bar Association's position on Senate Bill 885, Printer's No. 1210 and House Bill 43, Printer's No. 37 and any similar legislation to the Governor, the General Assembly and the public and take whatever action is necessary to effectuate this resolution.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: September 8, 2016