BISMARCK - North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum's office has finalized a new ethics policy that prevents its employees from accepting gifts exceeding $50 in value, a spokesman said Wednesday, Oct. 17.
The policy was finalized months after Burgum, a Republican, reimbursed Xcel Energy nearly $40,000 for tickets to the Super Bowl and other related events. Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki said the policy was in the works before the football game flap. There wasn't a policy in place when the governor took office in 2016, he said.
The two-page policy applies to the governor, lieutenant governor and employees of the office.
The policy requires employees who accept a gift exceeding $50 in value to report it to the office's general counsel and return the gift. If it's not feasible to return the gift, it must be transferred to a charity.
The policy clarifies that the prohibition doesn't apply to exchanging gifts between family and friends, but "circumstances must indicate a personal rather than business relationship."
The policy states that no gift "of any value" may be accepted if it's offered with the intent to directly or indirectly influence official actions. Employees are allowed to accept a "plaque, trophy or other item that is substantially commemorative in nature, and intended for presentation."
The policy also allows employees to participate in political activities outside of work, outlines a process for reporting travel and lodging expenses and requires employees to "take great care to avoid conflicts of interest or even the perception of a conflict of interest."