What's the value of a gift of no value? *(updated)
Members of the City Council in Pasadena have a long tradition of handing out bundles of Rose Bowl Game and Rose Parade tickets each year to friends, admirers, supporters and other VIPs. Of course, the only way they have those tickets to give away is because the Tournament of Roses, which runs both events, gives each of the local politicos a ticket allotment.
As of now, the California Fair Political Practices Commission considers these tickets to be part of a fund-raising drive for a nonprofit entity, and therefore concludes they have no value under the state's gift restrictions. In other words, a gift of no value.
However, the FPPC's staff counsel is asking the public to comment on whether those tickets should be treated as gifts, and therefore taken at face value - a change that could have implications both at the state level as well as under the city's own Measure B conflict-of-interest rules. It should be noted the FPPC has discussed this before - at least once in 2004 - and seemed unable to come to a resolution.
I have to wonder what prompted the FPPC to take a look at this issue. I'll update if I find out.
From the FPPC press release: Comments may be addressed to Bill Lenkeit, Senior Commission Counsel at the address set forth above, by e-mail at email@example.com. or by telephone at (916) 327-2020.
*A Pasadena councilman says I've misremembered the way the system works regarding tickets for the Rose Bowl Game. Each council member receives two free tickets, which would be affected by a rule change. However, the 90 or so tickets each member gets from the Tournament to allocate to constituents are paid for by the recipient. The cache of parade tickets, however, are given to council members to give away free. Each one of those caches is worth thousands of dollars and also would be covered by a rule change.