Denver Bar Association
April 2007
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Acceptable Influence: What’s the best gift you could give a governmental employee for less than $50?

Debate rages about practical problems faced by governmental employees and lobbyists due to restrictions on gifts and incentives brought on by Amendment 41. Prior to the amendment, it was widely held that incentives should not be supplied to public employees because of the potential for divided loyalties and the appearance of impropriety. Amendment 41 prohibits gifts valued at $50 or more. Uniquely, it now seems to pave the way for the acceptability of low-cost incentives, as we all know that a fear of impropriety can be wiped away if said incentives cost less than $50. The road is open for a low-cost free-for-all while governmental employees fret over impediments to scholarships and high-value rewards for which the private sector has no fear.

Gaining influence at a low cost can be a creative battlefield. Consider a few ideas triggered by Amendment 41.

  • Courtesy limo ride: Take your representative or department head to dinner or the game in style. Most government offices in Denver are only several blocks from great venues. Sure, it’s only a one-way ticket, but if you put out for a mere five-block limo ride it will leave the impression you’re looking for.

  • Bobblehead Senator: With an easy character sketch and a production cost of about $35, your favorite official will be delighted to display on his desk his very own bobblehead doll, a real conversation starter.

  • Personal identity session: For less than $50, your favorite official can counsel by phone with a therapist and identity specialist Mike Jones in a confidential telephone environment.

A large 2 percent half-caf, no foam latte with three "Splendas" and white chocolate syrup with whip cream topped with rare Venezuelan cinnamon. Extra hot with a ceramic mug and half an almond biscotti on the side.

A beret autographed by Walter Gerash or the bohemian lawyer of your choice.

David Lane signed microphone.

Lawn clippings from the offices of Haddon Morgan Mueller Jordan Mackey & Foreman P.C. Select clippings from the front and side lawns.

  • Opening day at the Rockies: For less than $40, you can treat your buddy at the state house to box seats for three innings of Major League Baseball. Amendment 41 creates instant understanding about why you could not "spring" for the balance of the ticket.

  • Psychotherapy candles: The stress of government office and the tension of divided loyalties can be eased with an appropriate psychotherapy session. The official’s health insurance may cover a few sessions, but you can provide the psychotherapy candles that will make it all memorable. For $38.99, they provide warmth, illumination, color and aroma to settle frayed emotions.

Power breakfast at Denny’s with The Docket Committee.

  • Judicial war toys: For only $44.50, you can present a quality set of lead soldiers to grace the bench of any courtroom, to be concealed from view by the edge of the judge’s bench so as not to be seen by jurors and litigants. Your favorite jurist can keep score during jury trial with the flick of a finger. Show you have his game at heart.

These are just a few ideas for our list of influential gifts under $50.

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