Honoraria 

Executive branch employees are no longer subject to the prohibitions on the acceptance of honoraria contained in the Ethics Reform Act of 1989. The 1989 Act had banned the receipt of any honoraria for an appearance, speech or article whether or not there was any connection to the employee's official duties. A later amendment to the 1989 Act had the effect of allowing payment for a series of such activities provided that the activity did not relate to the employee's official duties.

This provision of the 1989 Act was challenged in court and eventually found by the Supreme Court to be an unconstitutional infringement of the First Amendment. Subsequently, the Department of Justice, in an opinion issued on February 26, 1996, determined that the law was "effectively eviscerated" by the Supreme Court's decision and that there were no remaining applications of the law.

The result is that executive branch employees generally may accept honoraria for an appearance, speech or article, provided that the activity does not relate to the employee's official duties. Any employee who had kept honoraria in an escrow account during the litigation is now free to receive those funds. Employees are still subject to other restrictions on the receipt of honoraria in certain circumstances, including the prohibition on receiving compensation for teaching, speaking and writing that relates to their official duties (subject to an exception for teaching certain courses).

Reference:
Section 501(b), of the Ethics In Government Act, as added by section 601(a) of the Ethics Reform Act of 1989; United States v. National Treasury Employees Union, 115 S. Ct. 1003 (1995).

 

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