Bribery FAQs: What You Should Know About Bribery
It is especially important for public servants to remain honest in carrying out their duties, which is why the Texas Ethics Commission has developed a set of guidelines for these individuals to follow. Failure to follow these guidelines could result in that person being removed from the position in addition to significant monetary fines and incarceration time.
What is Making Bribes?
Bribery crimes occur whenever an individual “accepts or solicits any gift, favor or service that might reasonably tend to influence the officer or employee in the discharge of official duties.” Public officials are also prohibited from accepting any other employment that would cause a conflict of interest in performing official tasks. Accepting awards for exercising one’s duties are also prohibited. A few examples of bribery could be:
- A judge who is paid to reach a particular decision
- Businesses that offer police officers “bonuses” for patrolling their areas
- Sports referees who make unfair calls in order to throw a game
- Politicians who receive “awards” for advancing certain causes when they have been involved in passing legislation concerning them
Are There Exceptions to Bribery Laws?
There are some occasions when receiving gifts or bonuses would be acceptable under Texas law. A few of these include:
- Food, beverages, entertainment or lodging provided by a lobbyist if said lobbyist is present at a particular event
- Non-cash items that are less than $50 in value
- Gifts from friends, relatives or business associates if they are personal in nature
- Legitimate monetary compensation for a second job or business venture, as long as payment is not related to one acting in an official capacity
When it comes to maintaining ethics, it is better to be safe than sorry. Any potential violation of legislation should be scrutinized carefully in order to prevent the devastating consequences that could follow for those who are later caught in a scandal.
To learn more regarding Texas’ statutes about receiving and giving gifts, consult with Rand Mintzer at 713-862-8880.