June 24, 1997
Ms. Mechelle Miller
P.O. Box 44420
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
RE: Ethics Board Docket No. 97-473
Dear Ms. Miller:
The Louisiana Board of Ethics, during the course of its June 19-20, 1997 meeting, considered your request for an advisory opinion regarding whether a lobbyist must include as an expenditure the cost of a Hotard bus that is to be shared by legislators, lobbyists and private citizens. You stated that the lobbyist will lease the bus in his name, but that each person will pay $10.00 for bus fare.
The Board concluded, and instructed me to inform you, that if the $10 fare accurately represents each person's pro rata share of the cost of the bus, the lobbyist is not making an expenditure as that term is defined in the Lobbyist Disclosure Act nor is the legislator receiving a thing of economic value as defined in the Code of Governmental Ethics. Accordingly, no violation of either statute is presented by this scenario. However, if the $10 is not a legislator's pro rata share, then any amount over that provided or paid for by the lobbyist would appear to be a prohibited gift.
The Board also had concerns regarding the purpose of the trip taken on the bus. The Board cautions you that public servants are allowed to receive food and drink if the giver of such is the host of the event and is present. Additionally, legislators are allowed to receive, under certain circumstances, tickets to cultural and sporting events and lodging and transportation if related to the making of a public speech and if disclosed. If you have any questions regarding any other item being provided to a public servant in connection with the bus trip, please submit further correspondence to the Board for the rendering of another opinion.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Very truly yours,
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
Patricia H. Douglas
For the Board