The Denver Code of Ethics prohibits City officers, employees or officials from accepting travel or lodging expenses under certain circumstances. In that regard, the Denver Board of Ethics has considered several requests for advisory opinions and/or waivers relating to payment for travel or lodging expenses for City employees by organizations other than the City and County of Denver.
To assist you, the Board of Ethics publishes the following guidelines for your use:
- Acceptance of travel and lodging expenses by City officers, officials or employees is prohibited if (i) you are in a position to take direct official action with regard to the donor and (ii) the donor has an existing, ongoing or pending contract, business or regulatory relationship with the City. There is an exception for payment by nonprofit organizations or other governments for attendance at a convention, fact-finding mission or trip or other meeting where you are scheduled to deliver a speech, make a presentation, participate in a panel or represent the City. (Section 2-60, Code of Ethics).
- "Direct official action" is defined as any action that involves:
- Negotiating, approving, disapproving, administering, enforcing, or recommending for or against a contract, purchase order, lease, concession, franchise, grant, or other similar instrument in which the City is a party. With regard to "recommending," direct official action occurs only if the person making the recommendation is in the formal line of decision making.
- Enforcing laws or regulations or issuing, enforcing, or regulating permits.
- Selecting or recommending vendors, concessionaires, or other types of entities to do business with the City.
- Appointing and terminating employees, temporary workers, and independent contractors.
- Doing research for, representing, or scheduling appointments for an officer, official or employee, provided that these activities are provided in connection with that officer’s, official’s or employee’s performance of (1) through (4) above. (Section 2-52(b), Code of Ethics).
While the Board of Ethics has the authority to grant a waiver, it believes that the best interests of the City are served if waivers are not routinely granted. However, the Board of Ethics is prepared in an emergency, unusual or exigent circumstances to consider granting waivers. The fact that a City department or agency does not have a sufficient budget for travel and lodging expenses is not sufficient to justify the granting of a waiver by the Board of Ethics.
Issued December 2002