Ethics Law Key Terms

Public Servant – any City official or employee.

Official – any City elected official, head of Department, head of bureau/division, or any other individual with similar decision-making authority.  Also includes individuals with decision-making authority in quasi-judicial, regulatory, licensing, inspecting, or auditing functions. 

Disqualifying Relative – an individual’s spouse, parent, child, or sibling.

Interest – legal or economic interest, regardless of encumbrance (e.g., a mortgage), that is owned or held wholly or partly, jointly or severally, or directly or indirectly.  Does not include certain financial interests, such as an insurance policy or pension.

Business Entity – any person or organization engaged in any for-profit or not-for-profit business or other organized activity.

Business with the City – any one (1) or combination of sales, purchases, leases, or contracts that total $5,000 or more cumulatively and that are made to/from/with the City, OR to/from/with a person in connection with a City contract. 

Financial Interest – ownership of a business entity (including convertible securities) that amounts to more than 3% of the entity, OR ownership of any interest that either resulted in the receipt of more than $1,000 in any one of the past three calendar years or that will result in the receipt of more than $1,000 in the current year or any future calendar year.

Gift – transfer of any thing or service of economic value without adequate consideration (i.e., without giving something of similar value in return, such as monetary payment).  Does NOT include political contributions regulated under State Election Law, Title 13 (campaign finance).

Lobbyist – a person who communicates with a public servant for the purpose of influencing legislative or executive action and who, in connection with that communication, expends $100 or more for gifts, incurs expenses of $500 or more, OR earns $2,500 or more in compensation.