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1999 Wis Eth Bd 11 - IMPROPER USE OF OFFICE; MEALS, LODGING, TRAVEL AND ENTERTAINMENT

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The Ethics Board advises:

The responsibility for the care and use of grant funds lies in the first instance
and primarily with the state agency that receives a grant. The agency’s
officials have broad discretion to identify the agency’s interests and the
means to further those interests.

   1. State public officials. An agency’s state public officials should strive to
        assure that the agency’s expenditures related to an out-of-state event are
        not for their own personal advantage except to the extent any personal
        advantage is merely incidental to the officials’ specific activities at
        particular events in furtherance of substantial, well-articulated business
        purposes of the agency, in contrast, for example, to expenditures for undefined
        or ill-defined or tenuously related “representational” responsibilities.

   2. Spouses, companions, and family members. With rare exception, the
        public purpose doctrine and §§19.45 and 19.46, Wisconsin Statutes, foreclose
        officials from authorizing the travel of their spouses and other family
        members to events at state expense, even if the source of the public funds
        is a grant rather than taxes. An expenditure for this purpose merits close
        scrutiny.

   3. Others. Because officials subject to the Ethics Code may not use their
        positions to obtain unlawful benefits for others, the Ethics Board
        encourages them not to authorize the payment of expense for travel for
        employees, employees’ spouses, and others except as those expenses are in
        connection with specific activities at particular events in furtherance of
        substantial, well-articulated business purposes of the agency.