State of Connecticut

This page was last updated on: June 17, 2015

Plain Language Summary of State Ethics Laws for Current and Potential State Contractors

Note: The following is a summary of the major ethics laws and related provisions applicable to current and potential state contractors. For more detailed information or to discuss any questions you may have, contact the Office of State Ethics at (860) 566-4472.

RESTRICTIONS ON THE BENEFITS YOU MAY GIVE TO STATE PERSONNEL

GIFTS: In general, no one doing business with or seeking business from a state or quasi-public agency may give a gift to an official or employee of that agency. Connecticut's gift ban is strict, but has some exceptions. For example, under the Ethics Code, you may give: (1) food and drink up to $50 per person per year, if the person paying, or his or her representative, is in attendance; and (2) tangible gifts up to $10 per item up to $50 per person per year. Also exempt are certain items such as informational materials, or plaques costing less than $100. For a complete list of the Code's gift exceptions, consult Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-79(e) or contact the Office of State Ethics.

IMPORTANT RECENT CHANGE IN LAW: As of July 1, 2004, gifts for “major life events,” including a wedding or the birth of a child, which were previously exempt from the gift ban, are now subject to the strict gift limits outlined above if the gifts are provided by any individual or entity doing business with or seeking business from the state.

NOTE: State agencies may have stricter gift rules than the provisions of the Ethics Code (for example, an agency policy may ban all food and drink). Be sure to obtain a copy of the agency's ethics policy before you provide any benefit to an agency official/employee.

NECESSARY EXPENSES: Under the Ethics Code, you may not pay a fee or an honorarium to a state official or employee for making a speech or appearing at your organization's event. You may, however, under limited circumstances, pay the “necessary expenses” of such a state servant. These expenses are limited to: necessary travel, lodging for the nights before, or and after the speech, meals and conference fees. There may be reporting requirements attached to the giving and taking of necessary expenses, so contact the Office of State Ethics if you need more information. NOTE: Before providing necessary expenses, check with the state agency's ethics officer to determine if the agency allows such payments.

GIFTS TO THE STATE: The Ethics Code allows limited “gifts to the state” which facilitate state action or functions (for example, donating a piece of equipment to the agency). NOTE: Recent legislation was passed that may impact gifts to the state. Please contact the Office of State Ethics before giving a gift to the state to determine if such donations are acceptable.

RULES ON HIRING STATE PERSONNEL

Before you hire a current or former state employee, you should be aware of certain provisions of the Ethics Code. First, if you are considering hiring a current state employee, especially from a state agency with which you do business or by which you are regulated, you should know the following:

A current state employee must not accept outside employment that impairs his independence of judgment regarding his state duties, or that encourages him to disclose confidential information learned in his state job. Also, a current state employee may not use his or her state position for financial gain, however inadvertent that use may be. Therefore, for example, a current state employee who exercises any contractual, supervisory or regulatory authority over you or your business may not be able to work for you.

Second, if you are considering hiring a former state employee, you should be aware of the Ethics Code's post-state employment, or revolving door, laws:

If you hire or otherwise engage the services of a former state official or employee, he or she may not represent you before his of her former agency for one year after leaving state service.

NOTE: The former State Ethics Commission established a limited exception to this provision which allows the former employee to return to his or her former agency within the one year period for the sole purpose of providing technical expertise (for example, to help implement a previously awarded contract). This is a fact-specific exception that applies in very limited circumstances: therefore, you should contact the Office of State Ethics for further assistance if you think this exception applies to you.

If a state official or employee was substantially involved in, or supervised, the negotiation or award of a contract valued at $50,000 or more, and the contract was signed within his or her last year of state service, and you or your business was one of the parties to the contract, then you and/or your business are prohibited from hiring him or her for one year after he or she leaves state employment.

A former state official or employee can never represent anyone other than the state regarding a particular matter in which he or she was personally and substantially involved while in state service and in which the state has a substantial interest.

Third, there are approximately 75 state officials or employees who may not negotiate for, seek or accept employment with any business subject to regulation by their agency, and may not accept employment with such a business for one year after leaving state service. Under that section of the law, it is also illegal for a business in the industry to employ such an individual.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST RULES THAT APPLY TO YOU AS A STATE CONTRACTOR

Under Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-86e of the Ethics Code, no state contractor, including a consultant or other independent contractor, can use the authority provided under the contract, or confidential information acquired in the performance of the contract, to obtain financial gain for himself, his employee, or a member of his immediate family. Also, a state contractor cannot accept another state contract that would impair his independence of judgment in the performance of the first contract. Finally, a state contractor cannot accept anything of value based on an understanding that his actions on behalf of the state would be influenced.

It is important to call the Office of State Ethics at (860) 566-4472 to discuss the application of this law, or any of the other ethics laws, to your specific situation.

OTHER ETHICS PROVISIONS THAT MAY APPLY TO YOU

Contractors seeking large state contracts are required to execute affidavits regarding gifts and/or campaign contributions made to certain state employees or public officials in the two-year period prior to the submission of a bid or proposal. You need to check the web sites of both the Department of Administrative Services, www.das.state.ct.us, and the Office of Policy and Management, www.opm.state.ct.us, for copies of these affidavits and for other updated information regarding state contractors. Also, because the particular agency with which you wish to contract may have specific rules that you must follow, you need to check with that agency as well. If you or your business provides “investment services” as defined in the Code of Ethics, and you make a political contribution in connection with the Office of the Treasurer, you may be prohibited from contracting with that office. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-84(n).

Finally, if you or your business spends or receives $2,000 or more in a calendar year for activities that constitute lobbying under the Ethics Code, whether to affect legislation or the actions of an administrative state agency, then you and/or your business may have to register as a lobbyist with the Office of State Ethics, and more ethics rules will apply to you. Contact the Office of State Ethics, or review the lobbyist registration information at www.ct.gov/ethics.

Recent legislation (Public Act 05-287) prohibits anyone who is a party (or who is seeking to become a party) to a state construction, procurement, or consultant services contract over $500,000 from:

(1) Soliciting information from a public official or state employee that is not available to other bidders for that contract, with the intent to obtain a competitive advantage over other bidders;

(2) intentionally or recklessly charging a state agency for work not performed or goods or services not provided, or falsifying invoices or bills; or

(3) intentionally violating or trying to circumvent the state competitive bidding and ethics laws.

Recent legislation (Public Act 05-287) also requires any prospective state contractor to affirm in writing that he or she has been provided with a summary of the state's ethics laws and that his key employees have read and understood the summary and agree to comply with the applicable provisions of the ethics law.

COMPTROLLER'S AFFIRMATION OF RECEIPT OF SUMMARY OF STATE ETHICS LAWS

This form is mandatory and must be completed, signed and returned to the Comptroller's Office before your bid can be considered by the Comptroller's Office.

The undersigned, as a duly authorized officer of the company/firm bidding/negotiating the attached contract, affirms (1) receipt of the summary of State ethics laws for contractors, (2) that key employees of the company/firm have read and understand the summary and (3) that company/firm agrees to comply with the provisions of State ethics laws.


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