The Ethics in Public Service Act allows certain state employees to keep gifts with an aggregate value of fifty dollars from a single source in a calendar year or a single gift from multiple sources with a value of fifty dollars. However, if you have been deemed a “Section 4” employee, this $50 gift rule does NOT apply to you.
Section 4 refers to paragraph 4 of the Limitations on Gifts section of the Ethics Act - RCW 42.52.150(4). This section imposes more stringent limitations on gifts that can be received by officers and employees that are considered “Section 4” employees.
To determine if you are a Section 4 employee, you must ask yourself three questions:
Question 1. Are you employed by a regulatory agency or an agency that seeks to acquire goods or services? If yes, move on to question 2. If no, then you would not be considered a Section 4 employee.
Question 2. Does your agency regulate or contract with the person giving the gift? If yes, move on to question 3. If no, then you would not be considered a Section 4 employee in that instance.
Question 3. Did you participate in the regulatory or contractual matters with that person? If yes, then you are considered a Section 4 employee and would fall under the more stringent rules regarding gifts found in RCW 42.52.150(4). If no, then you would not be considered a Section 4 employee.
Some agencies have designated their entire workforce as Section 4, so check with your agency. You may also be a Section 4 employee in one instance and not in another. When in doubt, you should consult with your supervisor or contact the Ethics Board for advice.