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Department Publications

New Statute Clamps Down
on Entertaining Public Officials

The Arizona legislature has now outlawed entertainment expenditures for state officers and employees.

Legislators and other elected officials are of ten invited to participate in functions underwritten or otherwise sponsored by community colleges. Thanks to recent changes by the Arizona legislature to state lobbying statutes, though, many such activities may involve the illegal expenditure of funds.

According to A.R.S. Section 41-1232.07, a public or private entity--including a community college district--may not, directly or through a lobbyist, "make an expenditure or single expenditure for entertainment for a state officer or state employee." Likewise, such state officer or employee is prohibited under the statute from accepting any expenditure for entertainment.

Legislators are not the only officials precluded from accepting entertainment under the statute. Members of boards or commissions, as well as employees of state offices, agencies, boards, commissions or councils, are also barred.

Under the statute, "entertainment" is "any expenditure paid or incurred for admission to any sporting or cultural event or for participation in any sporting or cultural activity."

Before the enactment of the statute--which took effect on January 1 of this year--entertainment expenditures for the benefit of state officers and employees were not subject to an outright prohibition. Rather, the law required merely that such expenditures be reported in records available for public inspection.

The new law also changes the definition of what constitutes "entertainment" by including an express reference to "sporting or cultural" events or activities

Permitted under the statute are expenditures for entertainment "in connection with a special event," as long as such expenditures are reported to the public. Also allowed is entertainment that is "incidental" to a speaking engagement, at which the state officer or employee is asked to speak before an "event, committee, meeting, conference or seminar . . . ."

The law continues to authorize other expenditures for state officials on such items as food or beverages--provided, however, that the expenditures are reported.

Expenditures for food and beverages, however, entail some added conditions. They are permitted only if the food and beverages are provided for the state official at a location at which the lobbying entity--or the entity's lobbyist--is present.

In light of these new restrictions, it would be illegal for a community college district to:

  • authorize payment of the cost to state officials of tickets to plays, concerts or other cultural activities, as well as for professional or collegiate sporting events;
  • waive the cost to state officials of admission to college-sponsored cultural or sporting events;
  • allow the district's lobbyist to pay the cost of a state official's admission to a cultural activity or sporting event, even at the lobbyist's personal expense.

On the other hand, the law would not prohibit a community college district from:

  • providing a meal for a state official--including a meal at a college-sponsored activity--as long as the food and beverages are provided at a location where an official of the college or its lobbyist is present and the expenditure is properly reported;
  • inviting a state official to a college-sponsored cultural activity or sporting event which is open to the public free of charge;
  • providing entertainment that is incidental to a college-sponsored speaking engagement at which the state official has been invited to present information.

Published in the Spring 2001 Edition of In Brief

Questions or comments?
Contact Lee Combs @ 480.731.8878

Maricopa Community Colleges
Office of General Counsel
2411 West 14th Street
Tempe, AZ 85281-6942
480.731.8877 / 480.731.8890 fax

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