CEO 76-50 -- March 16, 1976
DECLARATION OF GIFTS
FAIR MARKET VALUE SHOULD BE DISCLOSED
To: Jere Tolton, Representative, 6th District, Fort Walton Beach
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
The standard of conduct provision dealing with prohibited gifts states that a public official may not solicit or accept "anything of value to the recipient . . . [t]hat would cause a reasonably prudent person to be influenced in the discharge of his official duties." By analogy, the value of gifts which are required to be disclosed pursuant to Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(3)(d)(1975) should be based on the fair market value of such gifts rather than on the wholesale value to the giver. It is the opinion of the commission that the legislative intent of the gift disclosure provision is to enlighten the public as to the identity of donors as well as to the value of such gifts to the officer/recipient.
For purposes of disclosing on CE Form 1 gifts received, is it appropriate to report the fair market value of each gift?
This question is answered in the affirmative.
The relevant provision of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees requires, in part, that the reporting official disclose on CE Form 1:
A list of all persons, business entities, or other organizations, and the address and a description of the principal business activity of each, from whom he received a gift or gifts from one source, the total of which exceeds $100 in value during the disclosure period . . . . [Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(3)(d)(1975).]
You advise us in your letter of inquiry that, in construing the above-cited provision of the law, you are uncertain as to whether you should report the value of gifts received based on the wholesale value to the giver, or based on the gift's fair market value.
In our view, the legislative intent of this provision is to enlighten the public as to the identity of donors as well as to the value of such gifts to public officers.
In support of this view, we would point out that gifts which are prohibited by the standards of conduct section of law include "anything of value to the recipient . . . [t]hat would cause a reasonably prudent person to be influenced in the discharge of his official duties." Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(2)(a)(1975).
For purposes of the Code of Ethics, a gift's value to the recipient/official is more important than its cost to the donor.
Accordingly, we are of the opinion that for purposes of disclosure of CE Form 1, you should ascertain the worth of any gift received based on the fair market value of such gift.