Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 2.2. Administration of Government
Chapter 31. State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act

§ 2.2-3101. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Advisory agency" means any board, commission, committee or post which does not exercise any sovereign power or duty, but is appointed by a governmental agency or officer or is created by law for the purpose of making studies or recommendations, or advising or consulting with a governmental agency.

"Affiliated business entity relationship" means a relationship, other than a parent-subsidiary relationship, that exists when (i) one business entity has a controlling ownership interest in the other business entity, (ii) a controlling owner in one entity is also a controlling owner in the other entity, or (iii) there is shared management or control between the business entities. Factors that may be considered in determining the existence of an affiliated business entity relationship include that the same person or substantially the same person owns or manages the two entities, there are common or commingled funds or assets, the business entities share the use of the same offices or employees, or otherwise share activities, resources or personnel on a regular basis, or there is otherwise a close working relationship between the entities.

"Business" means a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust or foundation, or any other individual or entity carrying on a business or profession, whether or not for profit.

"Candidate" means a person who seeks or campaigns for an office of the Commonwealth or one of its governmental units in a general, primary, or special election and who is qualified to have his name placed on the ballot for the office. The candidate shall become subject to the provisions of this chapter upon the filing of a statement of qualification pursuant to § 24.2-501. The State Board of Elections or general registrar shall notify each such candidate of the provisions of this chapter. Notification made by the general registrar shall consist of information developed by the State Board of Elections.

"Contract" means any agreement to which a governmental agency is a party, or any agreement on behalf of a governmental agency that involves the payment of money appropriated by the General Assembly or a political subdivision, whether or not such agreement is executed in the name of the Commonwealth, or some political subdivision thereof. "Contract" includes a subcontract only when the contract of which it is a part is with the officer's or employee's own governmental agency.

"Council" means the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council established in § 30-355.

"Employee" means all persons employed by a governmental or advisory agency, unless otherwise limited by the context of its use.

"Financial institution" means any bank, trust company, savings institution, industrial loan association, consumer finance company, credit union, broker-dealer as defined in subsection A of § 13.1-501, or investment company or advisor registered under the federal Investment Advisors Act or Investment Company Act of 1940.

"Gift" means any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value. It includes services as well as gifts of transportation, local travel, lodgings and meals, whether provided in-kind, by purchase of a ticket, payment in advance or reimbursement after the expense has been incurred.

"Gift" does not include (i) any offer of a ticket, coupon, or other admission or pass unless the ticket, coupon, admission, or pass is used; (ii) honorary degrees; (iii) any athletic, merit, or need-based scholarship or any other financial aid awarded by a public or private school, institution of higher education, or other educational program pursuant to such school, institution, or program's financial aid standards and procedures applicable to the general public; (iv) a campaign contribution properly received and reported pursuant to Chapter 9.3 (§ 24.2-945 et seq.) of Title 24.2; (v) any gift related to the private profession or occupation or volunteer service of an officer or employee or of a member of his immediate family; (vi) food or beverages consumed while attending an event at which the filer is performing official duties related to his public service; (vii) food and beverages received at or registration or attendance fees waived for any event at which the filer is a featured speaker, presenter, or lecturer; (viii) unsolicited awards of appreciation or recognition in the form of a plaque, trophy, wall memento, or similar item that is given in recognition of public, civic, charitable, or professional service; (ix) a devise or inheritance; (x) travel disclosed pursuant to the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act (§ 24.2-945 et seq.); (xi) travel paid for or provided by the government of the United States, any of its territories, or any state or any political subdivision of such state; (xii) travel provided to facilitate attendance by a legislator at a regular or special session of the General Assembly, a meeting of a legislative committee or commission, or a national conference where attendance is approved by the House Committee on Rules or its Chairman or the Senate Committee on Rules or its Chairman; (xiii) travel related to an official meeting of, or any meal provided for attendance at such meeting by, the Commonwealth, its political subdivisions, or any board, commission, authority, or other entity, or any charitable organization established pursuant to § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code affiliated with such entity, to which such person has been appointed or elected or is a member by virtue of his office or employment; (xiv) gifts with a value of less than $20; (xv) attendance at a reception or similar function where food, such as hors d'oeuvres, and beverages that can be conveniently consumed by a person while standing or walking are offered; (xvi) tickets or the registration or admission fees to an event that are provided by an agency to its own officers or employees for the purposes of performing official duties related to their public service; or (xvii) gifts from relatives or personal friends.

For the purpose of this definition, "relative" means the donee's spouse, child, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, or first cousin; a person to whom the donee is engaged to be married; the donee's or his spouse's parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, step-parent, step-grandparent, step-grandchild, step-brother, or step-sister; or the donee's brother's or sister's spouse or the donee's son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

For the purpose of this definition, "personal friend" does not include any person that the filer knows or has reason to know is (a) a lobbyist registered pursuant to Article 3 (§ 2.2-418 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 2.2; (b) a lobbyist's principal as defined in § 2.2-419; (c) for an officer or employee of a local governmental or advisory agency, a person, organization, or business who is a party to or is seeking to become a party to a contract with the local agency of which he is an officer or an employee; or (d) for an officer or employee of a state governmental or advisory agency, a person, organization, or business who is a party to or is seeking to become a party to a contract with the Commonwealth.

For purposes of this definition, "person, organization, or business" includes individuals who are officers, directors, or owners of or who have a controlling ownership interest in such organization or business.

"Governmental agency" means each component part of the legislative, executive or judicial branches of state and local government, including each office, department, authority, post, commission, committee, and each institution or board created by law to exercise some regulatory or sovereign power or duty as distinguished from purely advisory powers or duties. Corporations organized or controlled by the Virginia Retirement System are "governmental agencies" for purposes of this chapter.

"Immediate family" means (i) a spouse and (ii) any other person who resides in the same household as the officer or employee and who is a dependent of the officer or employee.

"Officer" means any person appointed or elected to any governmental or advisory agency including local school boards, whether or not he receives compensation or other emolument of office. Unless the context requires otherwise, "officer" includes members of the judiciary.

"Parent-subsidiary relationship" means a relationship that exists when one corporation directly or indirectly owns shares possessing more than 50 percent of the voting power of another corporation.

"Personal interest" means a financial benefit or liability accruing to an officer or employee or to a member of his immediate family. Such interest shall exist by reason of (i) ownership in a business if the ownership interest exceeds three percent of the total equity of the business; (ii) annual income that exceeds, or may reasonably be anticipated to exceed, $5,000 from ownership in real or personal property or a business; (iii) salary, other compensation, fringe benefits, or benefits from the use of property, or any combination thereof, paid or provided by a business or governmental agency that exceeds, or may reasonably be anticipated to exceed, $5,000 annually; (iv) ownership of real or personal property if the interest exceeds $5,000 in value and excluding ownership in a business, income, or salary, other compensation, fringe benefits or benefits from the use of property; (v) personal liability incurred or assumed on behalf of a business if the liability exceeds three percent of the asset value of the business; or (vi) an option for ownership of a business or real or personal property if the ownership interest will consist of clause (i) or (iv).

"Personal interest in a contract" means a personal interest that an officer or employee has in a contract with a governmental agency, whether due to his being a party to the contract or due to a personal interest in a business that is a party to the contract.

"Personal interest in a transaction" means a personal interest of an officer or employee in any matter considered by his agency. Such personal interest exists when an officer or employee or a member of his immediate family has a personal interest in property or a business or governmental agency, or represents or provides services to any individual or business and such property, business or represented or served individual or business (i) is the subject of the transaction or (ii) may realize a reasonably foreseeable direct or indirect benefit or detriment as a result of the action of the agency considering the transaction. Notwithstanding the above, such personal interest in a transaction shall not be deemed to exist where (a) an elected member of a local governing body serves without remuneration as a member of the board of trustees of a not-for-profit entity and such elected member or member of his immediate family has no personal interest related to the not-for-profit entity or (b) an officer, employee, or elected member of a local governing body is appointed by such local governing body to serve on a governmental agency, or an officer, employee, or elected member of a separate local governmental agency formed by a local governing body is appointed to serve on a governmental agency, and the personal interest in the transaction of the governmental agency is the result of the salary, other compensation, fringe benefits, or benefits provided by the local governing body or the separate governmental agency to the officer, employee, elected member, or member of his immediate family.

"State and local government officers and employees" shall not include members of the General Assembly.

"State filer" means those officers and employees required to file a disclosure statement of their personal interests pursuant to subsection A or B of § 2.2-3114.

"Transaction" means any matter considered by any governmental or advisory agency, whether in a committee, subcommittee, or other entity of that agency or before the agency itself, on which official action is taken or contemplated.

1987, Sp. Sess., c. 1, § 2.1-639.2; 1988, c. 536; 1992, c. 865; 1993, c. 303; 1994, cc. 74, 724; 1995, c. 495; 1996, c. 77; 1997, c. 641; 2001, c. 844; 2003, c. 694; 2004, cc. 134, 392; 2012, cc. 345, 771; 2013, c. 475; 2014, cc. 792, 804; 2015, cc. 763, 777; 2016, cc. 773, 774; 2017, cc. 829, 832; 2022, cc. 528, 529.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.