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October 26, 2016

Philadelphia mayor signs executive order banning gifts from lobbyists

Order expands restrictions on gifts to executive branch employees

Mayor Jim Kenney signed an executive order Wednesday that expands restrictions on gifts to city employees working in the executive branch.

His action updated the Executive Order on Gifts, which dates to 1961, to specifically prohibit executive branch employees from receiving gifts from registered lobbyists. That marks the first time the order clarified lobbyists as prohibited sources of gifts. 

The order, last updated in 2011, previously forbade executive branch employees from accepting gifts from a "person seeking legislative or administrative action by the city." The order pertains to the mayor and any of his or her appointees to agencies, boards and commissions.

“These changes represent an important step toward the ultimate goal: a comprehensive set of guidelines for thousands of City employees who regularly interface with the public,” Kenney said in a statement. “By making the ground rules for those interactions clear, we can ensure the public’s trust in their government.”

The executive order compliments a city ordinance, signed by former Mayor Michael Nutter in 2014, that prohibits all city employees from accepting cash gifts from anyone seeking action from an official.

The executive order forbids any executive employee from receiving any gift from a prohibited source. The ordinance already bans cash gifts but permits other gifts valued at $99 or less.

The executive order defines prohibited sources as registered lobbyists or people who, within a 12-month people, seek official action from an employee or whose financial interest is substantially impacted by the employee's actions. There is no timeline given to registered lobbyists.

People whose operations are regulated by the employee's agency, department, board or commission also are considered prohibited sources.

The order also clarifies that solicitations to further the city's goals or initiatives, like a fundraising campaign to benefit libraries, are permitted. So, too, are some gifts between employees for customary occasions like weddings, retirements and holidays.

To see how the order compares to the city ordinance and previous version of the order, click here.