April 21, 2022
The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has published a proposed rule governing legal expense funds for executive branch employees. OGE has proposed standards for an executive branch employee’s acceptance of payments for legal expenses through a legal expense fund, as well as an employee’s acceptance of pro bono legal services. These standards will apply for legal matters that arising in connection with the employee’s official position, the employee’s prior position on a campaign of a candidate for President or Vice President, or the employee’s prior position on a Presidential Transition Team.
OGE is also proposing to make related amendments to the portions of the Standards of Conduct that govern the solicitation and acceptance of gifts from outside sources and the portions of the Executive Branch Financial Disclosure regulation that govern confidential financial disclosure reports.
There is currently no statutory or regulatory framework for establishing a legal expense fund in the executive branch, which has created concerns regarding the appearance of corruption in the creation and operation of legal expense funds for the benefit of executive branch employees. The proposed regulation will more clearly spell out who is a prohibited donor, establish donation caps, and require transparency in the form of quarterly, publicly available reports.
Written comments are invited and must be received on or before June 21, 2022. Comments will be accepted by any of the following methods:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the reference “Proposed Rule: Legal Expense Fund Regulation” in the subject line of the message.
- Fax: (202) 482-9237.
- Mail: Office of Government Ethics, Suite 500, 1201 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005–3917, Attention: “Proposed Rule: Legal Expense Fund Regulation."
OGE is looking forward to receiving feedback on this proposed rule, which can be found here for your reference.