Ethics office issues inauguration warnings to feds

Members of the federal workforce can take advantage of any Inauguration-related events provided they are also open to the public. Members of the federal workforce can take advantage of any Inauguration-related events provided they are also open to the public. AP file photo

Federal employees can participate in inaugural activities so long as they are not receiving special treatment due to their position, the government’s ethics watchdog agency has announced.

Members of the federal workforce can take advantage of any Inauguration-related events -- including the Inaugural Parade, Inaugural Balls, receptions, dinners and fundraisers -- providing the events are available to the general public as well.

The Office of Government Ethics issued its guidance to “remind agencies of the ethical requirements relevant to a federal employee during the inauguration celebration.” OGE reiterated in the memo federal law prohibits employees from accepting gifts with a value of more than $20 at one time and more than $50 from the same source in one year.

It also pointed to a provision that prohibits non-career appointees from accepting any gifts from a registered lobbyist or lobbying organization.

Federal workers can accept invitations to inaugural events resulting from a spouse’s business or employment, OGE said. They can also attend a “widely attended gathering,” so long as their attendance is “in the agency’s interest.”

OGE also warned feds to steer clear of any fundraisers held in connection with the inauguration, as the Hatch Act prohibits such activity. 

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