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TDA Ethics Rules at a Glance

 Gifts from Outside Sources


 Gifts between Employees
 Conflicting Financial Interests
 Impartiality in Performing Official Duties
 Outside Activities
 Misuse of Position

NOTE: The following HIGHLIGHTS are not meant to be a complete summary of the ethics laws
and policies. They are for guidance purposes only; specific details of requirements have been
omitted. It's important for you to understand these standards of conduct. You should feel free to
ask your supervisor or agency ethics advisor, should you have any questions either after
reviewing this material, or at any time you are confronted with an ethical problem. When in
doubt, ask!

GIFTS FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES


As a TDA employee, you may never solicit a gift or accept cash as a gift.
You may not accept gifts from a “prohibited source,” or accept gifts given because of your
official position, except in certain limited circumstances discussed below.

“Prohibited source.” A prohibited source is any person, company or organization which:


• Does business with TDA, or
• Is seeking to do business with TDA, or
• Conducts activities regulated by TDA, or
• Has interests that may be “substantially affected” by the performance or non-
performance of your duties, or
• Is an organization a majority of whose members fit any of the above categories.

Non-gifts. Some things are not considered “gifts” and may be accepted. They include:
• Loans and discounts available to the public or to all State employees for their private
use;
• Inexpensive items of nominal value;
• Plaques, certificates, and trophies; and
• Rewards and prizes.
Exceptions. You may accept:
• Gifts based on close personal relationships.
• Gifts based on outside (not TDA related) activities or social events.
Limitations. You may never accept, even if otherwise permitted as an exception:
• Gifts in return for being influenced in the performance of your official duties;
• Gifts you solicited or coerced; and
• Gifts that are accepted so frequently that a reasonable person might question it.
Disposition. If you receive a gift not allowable under the standards, you should:
• Return it; or
• Reimburse the donor for the fair market value of the gift; or
• With your Ethic Officer’s approval, donate it to charity.

GIFTS BETWEEN EMPLOYEES


You may not:
• Give a gift to your official superior (supervisor or anyone up the chain).
• Accept a gift from any subordinate employee (anyone below in the chain).
Exceptions. Its OK to give or receive a gift under the following circumstances:
• You may accept a gift from a lesser-paid employee who IS NOT your subordinate,
AND there is a personal relationship which would justify the gift.
• The gift is for a traditional occasion such as a birthday or Christmas,
• You receive food or refreshments brought by an employee to be shared at the office.
• A small contribution for a gift on a special occasion like a wedding, or a person
leaving for a new job.
• The gift is in connection with personal hospitality, like a bottle of wine on being
invited to someone's home.

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CONFLICTING FINANCIAL INTERESTS

The rule. You may not participate in any matter, as part of your official duties, if it would have
a direct and predictable effect on your financial interests. OR those of your spouse, minor child,
or certain others (outside employer, general partner. etc.).

Acquiring or holding interests. You are not allowed to have any financial interests that might
be a conflict of interest with your duties. If you do, it may be necessary to divest them, or
disqualify yourself from certain matters. Talk to your agency ethics official for advice.

IMPARTIALITY IN PERFORMING OFFICIAL DUTIES

What it means. This includes situations where your official duties could affect your own
financial interests, or those of your business partner, or those of someone in your household, like
your spouse or minor child.

What to do, If you're in such a situation, or one where a reasonable person might question your
impartiality, don't do anything until you have informed your supervisor and your Ethics Officer
about it. They will let you know whether you may proceed or not.

OUTSIDE- ACTIVITIES

The rule. You cannot engage in outside employment or any outside activity if it conflicts with
the official duties of your government job.

Thinking about leaving? If you're seeking employment with a person or company, or have an
arrangement concerning future employment with them, then you can't participate in any matter
involving that person or company as part of your official duties, if their financial interests could
be affected by your performance of your duties.

MISUSE OF YOUR POSITION

Providing help. If your friends or relatives have any kind of dealing with TDA, you cannot use
your position to try to intercede on their behalf and help them.

Endorsements. You cannot use your position to endorse any product, service or company,
except where it is part of your official duties to do so (e.g., a official meeting with foreign
officials to promote purchase of Texas products).

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Inside Information. You cannot use nonpublic information (information you receive in the
course of your job that is not available to the general public) for the financial gain of yourself or
others.

Property. Generally, government property may only be used for government purposes. This
includes government buildings and real estate property, telephones, typewriters, computers
(including software and hardware), equipment, supplies, copiers, government vehicles and
government-issued credit or charge cards.

Though not technically "government property," you are prohibited from using the contractor-
issued State travel charge card for other than reimbursable travel expenses outside of your
permanent duty location. You may not make personal use of any other government-issued
purchase card (credit card).

• Exceptions. Brief use of the government telephone to check on children with a babysitter, or
to make a long-distance call with your personal calling card.

• Also, employees may make limited use of email and the Internet for personal needs if the use
does not interfere with official business and involves no cost to the TDA. Such use should
occur on personal time. A supervisor or manager may revoke or limit this privilege.

REMEMBER: . When in doubt, ask! If you have any questions, call Jim Pollard, your Ethics
Officer at (512) 463-7528.

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POLITICAL ACTIVITIES BY CERTAIN PUBLIC
ENTITIES AND INDIVIDUALS
§ 556.001. Definitions
In this chapter:
(1) "Appropriated money" means money appropriated by the legislature through the
General Appropriations Act or other law.
(2) "State agency" means:
(A) a department, commission, board, office, or other agency in the executive
branch of state government, created under the constitution or a statute, with
statewide authority;
(B) a university system or an institution of higher education as defined by Section
61.003, Education Code; or
(C) the supreme court, the court of criminal appeals, another entity in the judicial
branch of state government with statewide authority, or a court of appeals.
(3) "State employee" means an individual who is employed by a state agency. The term
does not include an elected official or an individual appointed to office by the governor
or another officer.
(4) "State officer" means an individual appointed to office by the governor or another
officer.

§ 556.002. Application to Certain Entities and Individuals


(a) This chapter applies to the use of appropriated money by the following public entities and
their officers and employees as if the entities were state agencies and their officers and
employees were state employees:
(1) a regional planning commission, council of governments, or similar regional planning
agency created under Chapter 391, Local Government Code;
(2) a local workforce development board created under Subchapter F, Chapter 2308; and
(3) a community center created under Subchapter A, Chapter 534, Health and Safety
Code.
(b) This chapter does not prohibit the payment of reasonable dues to an organization that
represents student interests before the legislature or the Congress of the United States from that
portion of mandatory student service fees that is allocated to the student government
organization at an institution of higher education. A mandatory student service fee may not be
used to influence the outcome of an election.

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§ 556.003. State Employees' Rights
A state employee has the rights of freedom of association and political participation guaranteed
by the state and federal constitutions except as provided by Section 556.004.

§ 556.004. Prohibited Acts of Agencies and Individuals


(a) A state agency may not use any money under its control, including appropriated money, to
finance or otherwise support the candidacy of a person for an office in the legislative, executive,
or judicial branch of state government or of the government of the United States. This
prohibition extends to the direct or indirect employment of a person to perform an action
described by this subsection.
(b) A state officer or employee may not use a state-owned or state-leased motor vehicle for a
purpose described by Subsection (a).
(c) A state officer or employee may not use official authority or influence or permit the use of a
program administered by the state agency of which the person is an officer or employee to
interfere with or affect the result of an election or nomination of a candidate or to achieve any
other political purpose.
(d) A state employee may not coerce, attempt to coerce, command, restrict, attempt to restrict, or
prevent the payment, loan, or contribution of any thing of value to a person or political
organization for a political purpose.
(e) For purposes of Subsection (c), a state officer or employee does not interfere with or affect
the results of an election or nomination if the individual's conduct is permitted by a law relating
to the individual's office or employment and is not otherwise unlawful.

§ 556.005. Employment of Lobbyist


(a) A state agency may not use appropriated money to employ, as a regular full-time or part-time
or contract employee, a person who is required by Chapter 305 to register as a lobbyist. Except
for an institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code, a state
agency may not use any money under its control to employ or contract with an individual who is
required by Chapter 305 to register as a lobbyist.
(b) A state agency may not use appropriated money to pay, on behalf of the agency or an officer
or employee of the agency, membership dues to an organization that pays part or all of the salary
of a person who is required by Chapter 305 to register as a lobbyist.
(c) A state agency that violates Subsection (a) is subject to a reduction of amounts appropriated
for administration by the General Appropriations Act for the biennium following the biennium in
which the violation occurs in an amount not to exceed $100,000 for each violation.
(d) A state agency administering a statewide retirement plan may enter into a contract to receive
assistance or advice regarding the qualified tax status of the plan or on other federal matters
affecting the administration of the state agency or its programs if the contractor is not required by
Chapter 305 to register as a lobbyist.

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§ 556.0055. Restrictions on Lobbying Expenditures
(a) A political subdivision or private entity that receives state funds may not use the funds to pay:
(1) lobbying expenses incurred by the recipient of the funds;
(2) a person or entity that is required to register with the Texas Ethics Commission under
Chapter 305;
(3) any partner, employee, employer, relative, contractor, consultant, or related entity of a
person or entity described by Subdivision (2); or
(4) a person or entity that has been hired to represent associations or other entities for the
purpose of affecting the outcome of legislation, agency rules, ordinances, or other
government policies.
(b) A political subdivision or private entity that violates Subsection (a) is not eligible to receive
additional state funds.

§ 556.006. Legislative Lobbying


(a) A state agency may not use appropriated money to attempt to influence the passage or defeat
of a legislative measure.
(b) This section does not prohibit a state officer or employee from using state resources to
provide public information or to provide information responsive to a request.

§ 556.007. Termination of Employment


A state employee who causes an employee to be discharged, demoted, or otherwise
discriminated against for providing information under Section 556.006(b) or who violates
Section 556.004(c) or (d) is subject to immediate termination of employment.

§ 556.008. Compensation Prohibition


A state agency may not use appropriated money to compensate a state officer or employee who
violates Section 556.004(a), (b), or (c) or Section 556.005 or 556.006(a), or who is subject to
termination under Section 556.007.

§ 556.009. Notice of Prohibitions


(a) A state agency shall provide each officer and employee of the agency a copy of Sections
556.004, 556.005, 556.006, 556.007, and 556.008 and require a signed receipt on delivery. A
new copy and receipt are required if one of those provisions is changed.
(b) A state agency shall maintain receipts collected from current officers and employees under
this section in a manner accessible for public inspection.

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STANDARDS OF CONDUCT AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST PROVISIONS

Government Code § 572.051


A state officer or employee should not:

(1) accept or solicit any gift, favor, or service that might reasonably tend to influence the
officer or employee in the discharge of official duties or that the officer or employee
knows or should know is being offered with the intent to influence the officer's or
employee's official conduct;

(2) accept other employment or engage in a business or professional activity that the
officer or employee might reasonably expect would require or induce the officer or
employee to disclose confidential information acquired by reason of the official position;

(3) accept other employment or compensation that could reasonably be expected to


impair the officer's or employee's independence of judgment in the performance of the
officer's or employee's official duties;

(4) make personal investments that could reasonably be expected to create a substantial
conflict between the officer's or employee's private interest and the public interest; or

(5) intentionally or knowingly solicit, accept, or agree to accept any benefit for having
exercised the officer's or employee's official powers or performed the officer's or
employee's official duties in favor of another.

Government Code § 2113.014.


(a) A state agency may not use appropriated money to compensate a state employee who violates
a standard of conduct described by Section 572.051 of the Government Code.

(b) A state agency shall provide each state employee it employs a copy of this section and the
standards of conduct described by Section 572.051 and require a signed receipt on delivery. A
new copy and receipt are required if one of those provisions is changed.

(c) A state agency shall maintain receipts collected from current state employees under this
section in a manner accessible for public inspection.

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TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

ETHICS TRAINING

RECEIPT OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I hereby acknowledge receipt of the Texas Department of Agriculture Ethics and Standards of
Conduct training. The Ethics policies and procedures of TDA were fully explained, and I
understand that all employees are required to abide by them.

I also acknowledge receipt of copies of the following legislation:


(1) Provisions prohibiting political aid and legislative influence, Chapter 556,
Government Code;
(2) Standards of Conduct of State Officers and Employees, Subchapter C, Chapter 572,
Government Code;
I further acknowledge that I understand that the Ethics laws and policy expressly prohibits:
(1) Engaging in any political activity during regular working hours;
(2) Using any state property including vehicles, for personal, recreational or political
activities; and
(3) Engaging in any personal business where there is or may appear to be a conflict of
interest or lack of independence between my job and my personal business.

I have read the restrictions and prohibitions placed upon me as a state employee by the above-
cited legislative provisions and Texas Department of Agriculture policies and understand that
violation of these provisions and policies may subject me to disciplinary action up to and
including termination.

I also understand that the Ethic policy is accessible to me on the TDA Intranet. I fully
understand that I am responsible for reviewing and understanding the contents of this policy and
any future modifications or additions to it.

____________________________________ _______________________
Print Name Date

Signature

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