Asking for and taking bribes is prohibited. (See Section 2) A bribe is anything of value corruptly received by a municipal employee in exchange for the employee being influenced in his official actions. Giving, offering, receiving, or asking for a bribe is illegal.
Bribes are more serious than illegal gifts because they involve corrupt intent. In other words, the municipal employee intends to sell his office by agreeing to do or not do some official act, and the giver intends to influence him to do so. Bribes of any value are illegal.
Gifts & Gratuities
Asking for or accepting a gift because of your official position, or because of something you can do or have done in your official position, is prohibited. (See Sections 3, 23(b)(2), and 26)
Municipal employees may not accept gifts and gratuities valued at $50 or more given to influence their official actions or because of their official position. Accepting a gift intended to reward past official action or to bring about future official action is illegal, as is giving such gifts. Accepting a gift given to you because of the municipal position you hold is also illegal. Meals, entertainment event tickets, golf, gift baskets, and payment of travel expenses can all be illegal gifts if given in connection with official action or position, as can anything worth $50 or more. A number of smaller gifts together worth $50 or more may also violate these sections.
Example of violation: A town administrator accepts reduced rental payments from developers.
Example of violation: A developer offers a ski trip to a school district employee who oversees the developer's work for the school district.
There are situations in which a municipal employee's receipt of a gift does not present a genuine risk of a conflict of interest, and may in fact advance the public interest. The commission has created exemptions permitting giving and receiving gifts in these situations. One commonly used exemption permits municipal employees to accept payment of travel-related expenses when doing so advances a public purpose. Another commonly used exemption permits municipal employees to accept payment of costs involved in attendance at educational and training programs. Other exemptions are listed on the commission's website.
Example where there is no violation: A fire truck manufacturer offers to pay the travel expenses of a fire chief to a trade show where the chief can examine various kinds of fire-fighting equipment that the town may purchase. The chief fills out a disclosure form and obtains prior approval from his appointing authority.
Example where there is no violation: A town treasurer attends a two-day annual school featuring multiple substantive seminars on issues relevant to treasurers. The annual school is paid for in part by banks that do business with town treasurers. The treasurer is only required to make a disclosure if one of the sponsoring banks has official business before her in the six months before or after the annual school.
Misuse of Position
Using your official position to get something you are not entitled to, or to get someone else something they are not entitled to, is prohibited. Causing someone else to do these things is also prohibited.(Sections 23(b)(2)/26) A municipal employee may not use her official position to get something worth $50 or more that would not be properly available to other similarly situated individuals. Similarly, a municipal employee may not use her official position to get something worth $50 or more for someone else that would not be properly available to other similarly situated individuals. Causing someone else to do these things is also prohibited.
Example of violation: A full-time town employee writes a novel on work time, using her office computer, and directing her secretary to proofread the draft.
Example of violation: A city councilor directs subordinates to drive the councilor's wife to and from the grocery store.
Example of violation: A mayor avoids a speeding ticket by asking the police officer who stops him, "Do you know who I am?" and showing his municipal I.D.