Web Extra: Know the rules

August 10, 2016 -  By

In the August 2016 issue, the cover story focused on navigating regulations at the municipal level. In this web extra, Phillip Perry takes a closer look at the ethical boundaries that exist when dealing with politicians.

Respect ethical boundaries when you deal with politicians. “You have to follow the rules regarding expenditures or gifts,” says Sean W. Hadley, a Moorestown, NJ-based attorney active in government relations. “This is true even for smaller social gratuities.”

You might be tempted to invite your local mover and shaker to lunch, for example, given that meal’s traditional role as a business negotiation ice-breaker. Bad idea. You do not want to offer a favor with a financial component, no matter how modest.

Offering to treat the politician to lunch (or even a cup of coffee), warns Hadley, can put the individual in the awkward position of having to turn down a social offer. You don’t want to start your relationship on a sour note.

“Even if a luncheon is not technically bribery, politicians are very suspicious of anything that might be misinterpreted that way by a third party,” says Fairfield, Conn.,-based attorney Cliff Ennico, author of Small Business Survival Guide (Adams Press). “In today’s world a politician is only one scandal away from being worthless.”

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About the Author:

Phillip M. Perry is a freelance writer based in New York.

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