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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Nov 17, 1989.
Ethics Reform Act of 1989 - Title I: Post Employment Restrictions on the Executive and Legislative Branches - Amends the Federal criminal code to revise provisions regarding former officers or employees of the executive branch or the District of Columbia attempting to influence the Government or the District. Prohibits such officers or employees for one year after their employment ends, from representing or aiding and advising any person, with the intent to influence, regarding any trade or treaty negotiation in which the official participated personally and substantially within one year before termination of employment, if such official had access to information concerning such negotiation which is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Prohibits certain senior officials in the executive branch (including the President), for one year after their service ends, from attempting to influence the Government. Prohibits former Members of Congress and elected officers of the Congress from attempting to influence any congressional official, or any congressional official in the House in which the ex-officer served, respectively, for one year after that individual leaves office regarding any matter on which such individual seeks official action. Prohibits former personal staff employees of a Senator or Representative, within one year after their employment terminates, from attempting to influence that Senator or Representative or an employee thereof on any matter on which such employee seeks action by a congressional official. Prohibits former employees of a congressional committee, within one year after termination of their employment, from attempting to influence any current or former Member or employee of such committee on any matter on which such employee seeks action by a Member in the Member's official capacity. Prohibits former employees on the House or Senate leadership staffs, within one year after termination of their employment, from attempting to influence any Member or employee of the staff on which the individual served on any matter on which such individual seeks official action by a congressional official. Prohibits former employees of any legislative office, within one year after termination of their employment, from attempting to influence current employees or officers of such office on any matter pending before such office or any matter on which such individual seeks action by such employees or officers in an official capacity. Declares that the prohibitions set forth in this Act apply only to acts done for compensation at a rate equal to or greater than the rate of pay for a GS-17. Prohibits individuals subject to the prohibitions of this Act from representing the interests of a foreign entity before, or advising such entity to attempt to influence a decision of, any officer or employee of the Federal Government. Revises the authority of the Director of the Office of Government Ethics in designating separate agencies and bureaus. Makes specified prohibitions of this Act inapplicable to appearances or communications on behalf of, or advice to, an international organization of which the United States is a member. Title II: Financial Disclosure of Federal Personnel - Amends the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to add Members of Congress, congressional officers and employees, and specified presidential appointees to the list of Federal personnel required to file financial disclosure reports. Requires the reporting of: (1) income and honoraria exceeding $200 (currently, $100); and (2) effective January 1, 1991, the source, date, and amount of payments made to charitable organizations in lieu of honoraria, together with a list of the recipients of such payments. Revises financial reporting requirements for certain income by establishing new reporting categories above the current threshold of $100,000. Revises provisions excluding personal liabilities owed to a reporting individual by a relative by specifying that such exclusion applies only to liabilities owed by the spouse, parent, sibling, or child of the reporting individual. Allows the use of alternative forms for financial disclosure. Revises financial reporting requirements for assets, liabilities, and transactions in real property and securities by establishing new reporting categories above the current threshold of $250,000. Requires the reporting of: (1) the source and amount of any honoraria received by a spouse of a reporting individual; and (2) gifts or reimbursements received by a dependent child of such individual which are not received independently of the relationship of the child to such individual. Increases civil penalties for violations of qualified blind trust disclosure requirements. Prohibits a reporting individual from being required to report the financial interests held by a widely held investment fund if: (1) such fund is publicly traded or the fund assets are widely diversified; and (2) the reporting individual does not exercise control over the financial interests held by the fund. Revises provisions regarding the failure to file or the filing of false reports to: (1) increase the civil penalties for such offenses; (2) require each congressional ethics committee or the Chairman of the Judicial Conference of the United States to refer the names of individuals believed to have committed such offenses to the Attorney General; (3) authorize such officials to take any appropriate action against such individuals; and (4) require individuals filing late reports to pay a filing fee. Applies public access requirements with respect to reports to supervising ethics offices. Exempts from public access any report filed by an independent counsel whose identity has not been disclosed. Increases the penalty for obtaining or using reports filed by individuals exempt from public disclosure reporting requirements. Revises provisions with respect to the review of reports to: (1) set forth procedures for the review of such reports; and (2) authorize each supervising ethics office to render advisory opinions interpreting this Act within its respective jurisdiction. Authorizes each supervising ethics office (currently, the President) to require officers and employees under its jurisdiction (currently, executive branch officers and employees and special Government employees) to file confidential financial disclosure reports. Requires the Comptroller General to conduct an annual study on whether financial disclosure requirements are being carried out effectively. Makes technical amendments to provisions concerning notifications of actions to comply with ethics agreements. Establishes the President's Commission on the Federal Appointment Process to study the simplification of the presidential appointment process by reducing the number and complexity of forms to be completed by nominees. Directs the Commission to submit a report of such study to the President within 90 days after its first meeting. Terminates the Commission upon the submission of its report. Title III: Gifts and Travel - Revises provisions with respect to gifts to superiors to: (1) authorize the Office of Government Ethics to issue regulations exempting voluntary gifts given or received for special occasions such as marriage or retirement from prohibitions of gifts to superiors; and (2) repeal the requirement that employees violating such provisions be removed from the service to instead subject such an employee to appropriate disciplinary action by the employing agency or entity. Requires the Administrator of General Services to prescribe the conditions under which heads of executive branch agencies may accept payment and reimbursement from non-Federal sources for travel expenses incurred by their employees for attending official functions or activities. Directs executive agency heads to submit to the Director of the Office of Government Ethics reports of payments of more than $250 accepted under this title with respect to the employees of their agency. Requires the Director to make such reports available for public inspection and copying. Requires such reports to: (1) specify the amount and method of payment, the names of the employee and the person making the payment, the nature of the expenses and the meeting or similar function, the time and place of travel, and such other information as the Administrator of General Services may prescribe by regulation; and (2) be submitted by May 31 and November 30 of each year with respect to payments for the preceding six months. Prohibits Federal employees and officials and Members of Congress from soliciting or accepting anything of value from a person: (1) seeking official action from, doing business with, or conducting activities regulated by the individual's employing agency; or (2) whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the individual's official duties. Authorizes each supervising ethics office to issue rules or regulations implementing such prohibition and providing for reasonable exceptions. Prohibits the acceptance of any gift by a Member, officer, or employee in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act. Provides that employees who violate such prohibition shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary and other remedial action. Title IV: Amendments to Title 18 of the United States Code - Amends Federal criminal code provisions regarding the following to provide that the punishment for an offense under such provisions shall be imprisonment for not more than one year, or not more than five years for willful offenses, or a fine in accordance with the criminal code, or both: (1) compensation to Members of Congress, officers, and others in matters affecting the Government; (2) practice in the United States Claims Court or Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit by such Members; (3) activities of officers and employees in claims against and other matters affecting the Government; (4) acts affecting a personal financial interest; and (5) salary of Government officials and employees payable only by the United States. Includes officers and employees of the District of Columbia among the individuals subject to provisions with respect to: (1) compensation to Members of Congress, officers, and others in matters affecting the Government; and (2) activities of officers and employees in claims against and other matters affecting the Government. Prohibits provisions concerning acts affecting a personal financial interest from applying: (1) in the case of a special Government employee serving on an advisory committee if the official responsible for the employee's appointment certified in writing that the need for the individual's services outweighs the potential for a conflict of interest created by the financial interest involved; or (2) if the financial interest that would be affected results solely from the interest of such officer or employee or his or her spouse or minor child in birthrights in certain Indian groups, allotments, or claims funds if the particular matter does not involve such group, allotment, or fund as a specific party. Requires copies of any determination granting an exemption for such employees to be submitted to the Director of the Office of Government Ethics who shall make all such determinations available to the public. Requires the information from the financial disclosure reports of the officer or employee involved describing the asset or assets that necessitated the waiver to be available to the public. Prohibits public disclosure of information with respect to such employee that is classified information. Authorizes the Attorney General to bring a civil action in the appropriate U.S. district court against any person who engages in conduct constituting an offense under such provisions and, upon proof of such conduct by a preponderance of the evidence, makes such person subject to a civil penalty of the greater of $50,000 for each violation or the amount of compensation which the person received for the prohibited conduct. Provides that if the Attorney General believes that a person is engaging in conduct constituting an offense under such provisions, he or she may petition an appropriate U.S. district court for an order enjoining such conduct. Title V: Other Ethics Reforms - Provides that if the Senate Ethics Committee determines that there is reason to believe that a Member, officer, or employee of the Senate may have committed an ethics violation, the Committee may request the Office of Special Investigations of the General Accounting Office to investigate the matter. Amends the Internal Revenue Code to provide for the nonrecognition of gains for sales of property to comply with conflict-of-interest requirements. Directs agency heads to prescribe appropriate conditions for the incidental use, for other than official business, of Government vehicles. Specifies that such use with respect to vehicles owned or leased by, or the cost of which is reimbursed by, the House of Representatives or the Senate shall be only as prescribed by rule of the House or Senate as applicable. Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to repeal provisions that exempt Members of the Congress in office on January 8, 1980, from the prohibition against converting excess campaign funds to personal use. Repeals a provision restricting payment to certain U.S. officers for furnishing war materials to the United States. Requires supervising officials of career appointees to submit a recommendation to their agency's performance review board as to whether such an appointee's performance justifies recertification as a senior executive based on certain factors. Requires the board to recommend that the appointee be recertified, conditionally recertified, or not recertified as a senior executive based on the recommendation of the supervising official and any statement submitted to the board by the appointee concerning his or her performance. Sets forth procedures and criteria for the recertification of senior executives. Provides for removal from the Senior Executive Service for any appointee not qualifying for recertification or conditional recertification. Suspends for one year after the enactment of this Act: (1) provisions of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act governing the conduct of certain individuals involved in procurement-related activities; (2) miscellaneous procurement provisions regarding private employment contacts between certain Department of Defense (DOD) procurement officials and defense contractors and limitations on the employment by contractors of certain former DOD procurement officials; (3) restrictions on retired military officers participating in sales to, or claims against, the Government; and (4) certain provisions of the Department of Energy Organization Act regarding post employment prohibitions and associated reporting requirements. Title VI: Limitations on Outside Employment and Elimination of Honoraria - Amends the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to: (1) limit the outside income of Members of the House of Representatives and all other Federal employees and officials (except Senators) who are non-career employees paid at a grade GS-16 of the General Schedule or above to 15 percent of the pay for level II of the Executive Schedule in any calendar year; and (2) prohibit such individuals from receiving any honoraria while employed by the Government, beginning on January 1, 1991. Prohibits payments of honoraria on behalf of such an individual to a charitable organization in excess of $2,000 or to an organization from which such an individual or his or her spouse or any relative derives any financial benefit. Prohibits such individual from: (1) affiliating with, or being employed by, any entity to provide professional services which involve a fiduciary relationship for compensation; (2) permitting his or her name to be used by such an entity; (3) practicing a profession which involves such a relationship; (4) serving for compensation as an officer or member of any entity; or (5) receiving compensation for teaching without prior notification and approval of the appropriate supervising ethics entity administering this title. Authorizes the Attorney General to bring civil actions to enforce this title. Amends the Internal Revenue Code to prohibit such payments to charitable institutions from being treated as received by the employee or official and used as deductions under Federal, State, and local tax law beginning on January 1, 1991. Provides that a repeal of the provisions of this Act with respect to salary increases for senior Government officials shall repeal provisions concerning such limitation and prohibitions on outside income. Title VII: Citizens' Commission on Public Service and Compensation - Redesignates the Commission on Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Salaries as the Citizens' Commission on Public Service and Compensation. Increases the membership of the Commission from nine to 11 members, six of whom are to be selected for appointment without regard to political affiliation from among persons having experience or expertise in such areas as government, personnel management, or public administration. Prohibits Federal employees and officials, individuals registered under the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act, and members of their immediate families from serving on the Commission. Requires the General Services Administrator to establish procedures by regulation for: (1) selecting the five remaining members by lot from among names randomly selected from voter registration lists; and (2) providing for the maximum degree of geographic diversity practicable among such members. Establishes a four-year term of office for such members after FY 1993. Requires the President to transmit to the Congress on the first Monday after January 3 of the year after the Commission submits its report his or her recommendations regarding pay rights for certain Federal offices and positions in light of the Commission's report and recommendations, the prevailing market value of the service rendered in the offices and positions involved, the country's overall economic condition, and the fiscal condition of the Government. Requires such recommendations to take effect upon the enactment of a bill or joint resolution approving such recommendations in their entirety. Declares that a privileged bill or resolution making such an approval, if offered by the majority leader of either House of the Congress, would be in order in each such House during the 60 days following submission. Requires recommendations of the President for pay adjustments that are approved to take effect as of the date proposed by the President but only after a November congressional election occurs between the enactment of a bill or resolution approving such recommendations and such proposed date. Requires the Commission to review recruitment and retention problems and any public policy issues involved in maintaining appropriate ethical standards with respect to public service in the Government and to report its findings and recommendations to the President. Prohibits any provision increasing the pay rates of Members of Congress, certain legislative positions, judges, justices, certain other judicial personnel, and Executive Schedule positions from taking effect before the beginning of the Congress after the Congress during which such provision was enacted. Provides that the basic pay rates for positions in the Federal and District of Columbia governments (except U.S. Senators) shall be determined as if provisions of law prohibiting increases in pay rates in FY 1989 and 1990 for positions compensated at a rate higher than level III of the Executive Schedule had never been enacted. Authorizes appropriate increases for Federal judges and justices of the Supreme Court. Prohibits any corresponding adjustment in any pay rate until the first pay period after the President's sequestration order of October 16, 1989, is rescinded. Increases the annual salary rates for positions in the Executive Schedule, certain legislative branch positions and offices including the office of the Vice President, the Chief Justice, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, U.S. circuit judges, U.S. district judges, and judges of the U.S. Court of International Trade by 25 percent beginning on or after January 1, 1991. Revises the method for computing annual cost-of-living increases for certain executive, legislative, and judicial positions by using the most recent percentage change in the Employment Cost Index (a measure of wages and salaries for private industry) minus one-half of one percent. Prohibits the determination of any such percentage change from being less than zero or greater than five percent. Amends the Federal judicial code to require a justice or judge who has retired from regular service but still retains the office (senior status) to be certified by the Chief Justice (for a justice) or by the chief judge of the circuit in which the judge sits in order to continue receiving the salary of the office. Sets forth certification criteria with respect to courtroom participation, judicial duties outside the courtroom, and administrative duties. Provides that in a case in which such justice or judge does not receive a certification the justice or judge shall continue to receive the last salary he or she was receiving in active service. Title VIII: Amendments to the Rules of the House of Representatives - Amends rule XLIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives to: (1) increase from $50 to $75 the fair market value of personal gifts of hospitality which a Member, officer or employee of the House may accept in any calendar year; (2) prohibit such individuals from accepting gifts in any calendar year aggregating more than the minimal value established under provisions regarding the receipt and disposition of foreign gifts and decorations from any person except to the extent permitted by written waiver granted in exceptional circumstances by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct; and (3) mandate that House employees who are required to file financial disclosure reports refrain from contacting any executive or judicial branch agency with respect to nonlegislative matters affecting any nongovernmental person in which the employee has a significant financial interest unless such employee first advises his employing authority of such interest and obtains a waiver from such authority stating that his or her participation is necessary. Directs such Committee to amend its advisory opinions relating to the acceptance of gifts to: (1) prohibit the receipt of lodging received as personal hospitality in excess of 30 days in any calendar year unless a written waiver is granted by the committee; and (2) exempt from coverage under rule XLIII gifts of food and beverages consumed not in connection with gifts of lodging. Makes corresponding changes to provisions of previous titles of this Act with respect to the conversion of campaign funds. Directs the Committee to issue an advisory opinion to provide for appropriate conditions for the incidental noncampaign use of campaign vehicles. Amends rule XLIV to change the due date for the submission of financial disclosure reports. Amends rule X to prohibit Members from serving on the Committee during more that three Congresses in any period of five successive Congresses, disregarding any service on such Committee for less than a full session in any Congress. Directs each respective party caucus or conference of the House to nominate seven members at the beginning of each Congress to serve on the Committee. Directs the Committee to adopt rules to establish investigative subcommittees. Amends various rules with respect to the Committee regarding adjudicatory subcommittees, administrative actions, reports to the House, the statute of limitations applicable to violations that may be investigated, and right to counsel for respondents in investigations. Directs the Committee to establish an Office on Advice and Education to: (1) provide information and guidance to House Members, officers, and employees regarding laws and other standards of conduct applicable to such individuals in their official capacities and any interpretations and advisory opinions of the committee; (2) recommend formal advisory opinions of general applicability; and (3) develop and carry out periodic educational briefings for Members, officers, and employees on those laws or other standards of conduct applicable to them. Amends rule XLVIII to make changes corresponding to provisions of previous titles of this Act with respect to the elimination of honoraria and limitations on outside earned income and employment. Directs the Committee to amend its advisory opinions relating to the acceptance of necessary travel expenses incurred on or after January 1, 1990, in connection with speaking engagements and similar events to: (1) prohibit the acceptance of such expenses for more than four consecutive days for domestic travel and seven consecutive days for foreign travel; and (2) permit the acceptance of travel expenses for the spouse or other family member in connection with any substantial participation event or fact-finding activity. Title IX: Regulations Relating to the Senate - Prohibits Members, officials, or employees of the Senate or their spouses or dependents from knowingly accepting gifts totalling over: (1) $100 a year from any person or entity having a direct interest in legislation before the Congress or from any foreign national unless, in an unusual case, a waiver is granted by the Select Committee on Ethics; and (2) $300 a year from a person or entity unless, in an unusual case, a waiver is granted by the Select Committee on Ethics. States that such prohibitions do not apply to gifts: (1) from relatives; (2) with a value of less than $75; (3) of personal hospitality of an individual; or (4) from a foreign national not acting on behalf of a foreign business, association, political party, or government. Requires such individuals who unknowingly accept such a gift to return such gift or reimburse the donor for its value if it cannot be returned. Allows such individuals to participate in foreign educational programs involving travel to a foreign country paid by a foreign sponsor if such participation is not in violation of any law and is determined by the Select Committee on Ethics to be in the interests of the Senate and the United States. Requires an individual to notify the Committee of his or her acceptance of an invitation to participate in such a program. Prohibits such individuals from accepting funds in connection with participation in such a program if such funds are not used for necessary expenses. Provides that necessary expenses does not include expenses for food, lodging, or transportation for: (1) domestic travel in excess of three days and foreign travel in excess of seven days, unless such travel is approved by the Committee on Ethics; or (2) anyone accompanying Members, officers, or employees of the Senate other than their spouses or an employee acting as an aide to a Member. Directs the Select Committee on Ethics to transmit a copy of each report filed with it under title I of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (other than reports filed by Members of Congress) to the head of the employing office of the individual filing the report. Mandates that Senate employees who are required to file a report pursuant to Senate regulations refrain from participating personally and substantially in any contacts with agencies of the executive and judicial branches with respect to non-legislative matters affecting any non-governmental person in which the employee has a significant financial interest. Makes such prohibition inapplicable if the employee advises his supervisor of his interest and obtains a waiver stating that the employee's participation is necessary. Title X: Rulemaking Power of the Congress - States that the provisions of this Act applicable to Members, officers, or employees of the legislative branch are enacted by the Congress as an exercise of its rulemaking power with full recognition of the constitutional right of either House to change such rules. Title XI: Pay and Honoraria Adjustments - Provides a salary increase to Senators to make up for the cost-of-living adjustments not applied for 1988 through 1990. Amends the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1983 to reduce limits on honoraria to Senators as their income is increased by cost-of-living adjustments. Prohibits the acceptance of honoraria in or after the calendar year after the limitation on honoraria equals one percent of a Senator's salary. Prohibits any pay adjustment or honoraria limit reduction until the first pay period after the President's sequestration order of October 16, 1989, is rescinded.