House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct
|House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct|
|Members, 109th Congress|
The ethics comittee has recently released a memo for departing members. Topics for this memo include:
- Financial Disclosure Statement for Calendar Year 2006 (due date: February 2, 2007).
- New Employment (reminder of outside earned income restrictions until end of term of office).
- Travel of Departing Members and Staff (reminder and clarification of specific restrictions).
- Use of Campaign funds to Pay Member Moving Expenses (It is allowed).
The full text of the memo is reprinted below.
November 13, 2006
MEMORANDUM FOR DEPARTING MEMBERS
FROM: Committee on Standards of Official Conduct
s/ Doc Hastings, Chairman s/ Howard L. Berman, Ranking Minority Member
SUBJECT: Ethics Laws and Rules for Departing Members and Staff
With the 109th Congress drawing to a close, we thought it would be helpful to highlight some of the ethics laws and rules that apply to departing Members and their staffs.
Financial Disclosure Statement for Calendar Year 2006
The due date established by law for your Financial Disclosure Statement covering calendar year 2006 is 30 days after you leave office, or February 2, 2007. If you need an extension of time to make this filing, you must write to the Committee with that request before the due date. The Committee can grant extensions for up to 90 days.
Forms for this “termination” Financial Disclosure Statement will be mailed to your office by the Clerk of the House in December. This statement will be identical to your previous ones, including information on your income, assets, liabilities, gifts, and travel. In addition, if you accept new employment prior to your departure from the House, you will have to disclose the terms of that employment (i.e., name of employer, title of position, and starting date) in the “Agreements” section of the statement (Schedule IX).
Any of your departing staff members who were paid at or above the annual rate of $109,808 for 60 days or more during 2006 will also have to file a termination financial Disclosure Statement within 30 days after leaving House employment. Where no staff member in the office of a departing Member is paid at this “senior staff” rate, then the designated “Principal Assistant” must file a termination report.
Both you and any of your staff members who are paid at the “senior staff” rate ($109,808 this year) continue to be subject to the outside earned income restrictions until your term of office ends. It would therefore be advisable for you to consult with the Standards Committee prior to accepting any new employment that would commence before you leave the House.
In addition, a provision of the Federal Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. § 207, imposes certain post-employment restrictions upon departing Members, and upon departing House employees who were paid at or above the “very senior staff” annual rate ($123,900 this year) for 60 days or more. Explanations of the restrictions are provided in a pair of Committee advisory memoranda dated September 29, 2006 – one concerning Members, and the other staff. Copies of both memoranda are enclosed.
Travel of Departing Members and Staff
A provision of the House Rules (clause 10 of House Rule 24) prohibits the use of official House funds for travel after the date of a general election in which a Member ran unsuccessfully. For retiring Members (who did not participate in an election this year), the rule prohibits any official travel following the adjournment sine die of the House. These provisions generally preclude departing Members from participating in a CODEL following the applicable date.
In a similar vein, departing Members and staff should not participate in privately funded travel that is fact-finding in nature after the adjournment sine die of the House (see pages 82-83 of the Gifts & Travel booklet). However, you may continue to accept travel expenses from a private source where the purpose of the trip is to give a speech at (or otherwise to participate substantially in) an event in connection with your official House duties. Please bear in mind that you and your staff members continue to be bound by the gift rule, including its provision on acceptance of travel expenses from private sources, until your term of office ends.
Use of Campaign funds to Pay Member Moving Expenses
Both the Federal Election Commission and this Committee have taken the position that a departing Member may use the Member’s campaign funds to pay the expenses of moving both office furnishings and personal household furnishings and effects back to the individual’s home state. The FEC’s position on this matter is stated in its Advisory Opinion 1996‑14. As a related matter, the FEC regulations on proper use of campaign funds provide that those funds may be used to defray the costs of winding down the office of a former Federal officeholder for a period of six months after the officeholder leaves office (see 11 C.F.R. § 113.2(a)(2)).
Any questions on these matters should be directed to the Committee’s Office of Advice and Education at extension 5-7103.
 Because the financial disclosure requirement is triggered by pay at the threshold rate for as few as two months in a year, at times staff members become subject to the requirement through acceptance of a bonus paid over such a period of time. However, this result can be avoided by payment of a bonus in the form of a “lump sum payment.” Any questions on the procedures to be followed in making lump sum payments should be directed to the Committee on House Administration.