Advisory Opinion 2013-1
A state worker who is selected to receive an award because of her overall job performance, as opposed to her performance on a specific task, may accept the award without violating the State of Connecticut's ethics laws. Rachel Hyland, a librarian at Tunxis Community College, was selected as the recipient of a $5,500 "I love my librarian" award. Charles C. Cleary, Dean of Administration at Tunxis Community College, asked the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board whether Hyland may accept the award, without violating Connecticut General Statutes §1-84(k). The statute provides, "No . . . state employee shall accept a fee or honorarium for an article, appearance or speech, or for participation at an event, in the . . . state employee's official capacity. . . ." Hyland was selected for the award because of her work for Tunxis Community College and did not provide a specific service in exchange for the award. The board found that the award did not qualify as a "fee" or "honorarium." The board also considered whether acceptance of the award violates C.G.S. §1-84(c), which provides, "no . . . state employee shall use his public . . . position . . . to obtain financial gain for himself. . . ." The board concluded that because Hyland received the award for overall job performance, as opposed to specific tasks performed, she did not use her public position to obtain financial gain. "Because the award was given for the librarian's overall job performance (rather than for her performance of any specific tasks in her state job)," wrote the Citizens' Ethics Advisory Board, "she may accept it, in accordance with Advisory Opinion No. 92-1, provided that she was not involved in the selection process, and that the award was neither established nor funded by persons regulated by, doing business with, or seeking to do business with her state employer."