As a rule, a Member, officer, or employee may not accept any gift, except as the rule provides (relevant exceptions listed below). Members-elect are subject to the Gift Rule when their pay and allowances begin.
Gifts that lobbyists are NOT allowed to give:
Items that can be accepted must be valued at less than $10, such as a greeting card, or clothing item.
If the sponsor of the briefing is not a registered lobbyist and does not employ or retain such a person, then House Members and employees may generally accept a gift, including a meal, valued at less than $50. If the sponsor does employ or retain a lobbyist, free attendance and House/Senate-catered food may still be acceptable if the event qualifies as a widely attended event.
A widely-attended event must meet the following criteria in the House and Senate:
Charity fundraising events are permissible if the “free attendance” includes all or part of the cost of admission; local transportation to and from the event; food, refreshments, entertainment, and instructional materials for all event attendees. The event’s primary purpose must be to raise funds to benefit an organization qualified under 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Educational events may be attended for smaller groups (without the 25 non-Congressional attendee min. requirement); universities, foundations, think tanks, non-profits, or non-advocacy organizations can host them.
Members and employees may attend an event (free attendance) and accept food or refreshment of a nominal value (appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, refreshments). There is no per person dollar limit, however no meals (including low-cost) are allowed to be accepted.