OGE considers donation restrictions for feds' legal expense funds

The Office of Government Ethics is seeking the public’s input on whether it should set restrictions on donations to legal expense funds for federal employees. 

Currently, there is no policy that governs the ethical implications of federal employees receiving support from legal defense funds.

OGE said its role is limited to “providing guidance to help ensure that executive branch employees who may receive distributions from a legal expense fund will be in compliance with the ethics laws and rules if they accept such a distribution.”

“However, this limited approach to legal expense funds does not fully address potential appearance concerns with the creation and operation of legal expense funds for the benefit of executive branch employees,” OGE said in a recent Federal Register notice.

Among the questions OGE is asking the public is: should there be contribution limits to legal expense funds; should there be limitations on the types of donors to legal expense funds; should donations of pro bono legal services to legal expense funds be permitted.

A virtual public hearing addressing these and other questions will be held on May 22. Written comments will be accepted through June 14.

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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