EXECUTIVE BRANCH CODE OF ETHICS
The Executive Branch Code of Ethics, which applies to all employees of the executive branch of state government, generally prohibits employees from soliciting and/or accepting gifts or donations from persons or businesses that do business with, are regulated by, are seeking grants from, are involved in litigation against, or are lobbying or attempting to influence the actions of, the agency for which the employee works. However, the legislature created an exception to this general rule in 2002 which allows employees, and their agencies, to raise funds for charitable nonprofit organizations granted a tax exemption by the Internal Revenue Service under Section 501c of the Internal Revenue Code. See KRS 11A.055(1). The Kentucky Employees Charitable Campaign is such an organization.
According to the Code of Ethics, raising of funds for such charitable purposes shall include but not be limited to holding events for the benefit of the charitable organization, contacting potential donors, providing prizes, and engaging in other forms of fundraising and providing the funds thus raised to the charitable organization.
What this means for KECC purposes is that employees of the executive branch may solicit donations from any person or business regardless of that person’s or business’s relationship to the employee’s agency. It does not matter whether the person or business is doing business with or is regulated by their agency.
When soliciting funds for KECC, employees should keep in mind that:
- All funds donated as a result of such solicitation must be provided directly to KECC.
- Public acknowledgement of a corporate donor to KECC is not permissible if the acknowledgment appears to be an endorsement of the donor by the state.
- No “active” acknowledgments, such as public statements in the newspaper or television, are permitted.
- No acknowledgements that would favor one KECC donor over another are permitted.
- “Static” acknowledgments of a donation, for example the placement of a sign or marker at an event, the printing of co-sponsors of an event on the back of t-shirts, are permissible, so long as they merely acknowledge the sponsorship (that is, the acknowledgments must be such that they do not serve as advertisements on behalf of the donors).
- The appearance of impropriety may still exist even if the Code of Ethics permits such solicitation. Agencies and employees should remain mindful of conflicts of interest when conducting fundraising activities for KECC.
Any questions regarding the Executive Branch Code of Ethics and fundraising activities on behalf of KECC should be directed to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission at 502-564-7954. You may also contact the Commission’s Executive Director directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information, including previously issued advisory opinions, is available at http://ethics.ky.gov.