Saturday, February 20, 2010

Free Tickets To The Circus Handed Out By Greensboro City Council Members, Is This Legal or Ethical or Conflict of Interest?

The video from above is from the Greensboro City Council meeting on 2-16-2010 where Greensboro City Council member Danny Thompson was thanking other council members Perkins,Kee,Wade and Mayor Knight for donating their Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus tickets to his church to take some deserving montagnards family for a night out.

How many other events do Greensboro City Council members get tickets for?
Is this a perk for being a elected official?
Does this perk go against state law of gift giving?
How many GGO tickets do local elected officials get to hand out?
Should this be reported on campaign contribution forms?

These tickets were given to the Greensboro City Council members by Ringling Brothers. We have seen from Governor Bev Perdue that she did a executive order for state level employees back in the fall , below is part of the executive order.


WHEREAS, those in State government who do the work of the public must continuously ensure that their actions reflect the ethical standards that are essential to maintaining the public’s trust; and

WHEREAS, N.C. Gen. Stat. 133-32 makes it unlawful for a State employee to willfully receive or accept any gift or favor from a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier of the State agency if the State employee is involved in (1) preparing plans, specifications, or estimates for public contracts; (2) awarding or administering public contracts; or (3) inspecting or supervising construction; and

WHEREAS, N.C. Gen. Stat. 133-32 applies to a limited group of State employees; and

WHEREAS, no State employee should be permitted to accept gifts or favors from contractors working or seeking to work with the employee’s agency; and

Below is from the North Carolina Board of Ethics back in 2001 with a little Google research, CLICKHERE


Should a Public Official accept free tickets from an agency vendor to a sporting event, play, or fundraising event?

Answer: Generally, no. It is generally not proper for Public Officials to accept gifts or services from someone whom the official regulates, contracts with, or otherwise does business with as part of his service as a Public Official. At a minimum, this can cause the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Does it make any difference if the tickets to a sporting event are season tickets or tickets the vendor received as part of its sponsorship of the event so that there was no purchase made specifically for the Public Official?

Answer: No. It does not matter how the vendor got the tickets.

Can a vendor take a Public Official to entertainment events when the Official has traveled to the vendor’s home city or when both vendor and Official are out of town (like at a non-vendor sponsored seminar)?

Answer: Not if it is otherwise prohibited. Ethics requirements do not end at the border.

Who knew that Greensboro City Council members get tickets to events and is this a perk of the job. But in this day and time in North Carolina where people are wanting to curry favors with plenty of local officials and we might see where local officials might want to do the same thing and maybe curry favor with getting tickets for a group of people to want their vote in the upcoming elections . It might be time to look at this program of giving out free tickets and am probably certain that the GGO golf tickets are floating out there for local elected officials to give out as they please. This post is not about who received these circus tickets but was a post about who got to give out these tickets. If ringling wanted to personally give them to a group home or some deserving group it is totally fine but having it go through a local elected official sure does raise some red flags.

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Anonymous said...

Dunno, but I know the Mecklenburg county commission gets free tickets for box seats at Bobcats games.

triadwatch said...

might be time to find out who else has this perk or hand out.

Bob said...

There has been a lot of discussion lately about transparency, ethics and officials with financial interests that create conflicts of interest. During the campaign, Nancy Vaughan was promoting disclosures similar to what state officials or board members have to provide. City and County elected officials could solve much of the problem by completing the Statements of Economic Interest Long Form:

Will any city or county officials be willing to complete the same forms that state board members provide?

triadwatch said...

good question , it seems like we need a lot of reform in this county and why not start with our local elected officials to disclose their financial interest and be more transparent.

Terry said...

Perks, gifts, bribes or tickets to any event, should be stopped completely and a crime to even offer them to elected officials. Because as long as there are elected officials like this commissioner who think it is ok, it will continue. No coincidence that the gift to the commissioner was from Ringling Bros Circus. The thousands and thousands of free circus tickets that Feld Entertainment has given away for decades to this official and that politician, has allowed them continue to torture train and beat their baby and adult elephants to make them perform in their shows and call it wholesome family entertainment and conservation of an endangered species.