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Attorney to Broward commissioners: Party on!

Broward County Attorney Jeffrey Newton sent an email to county commissioners this morning detailing whether they can accept VIP tickets for events before the Super Bowl. The answer: it depends on who is offering the tickets -- and commissioners must disclose them as gifts.

This may be the last chance for commissioners to accept such tickets: the county's ethics commission has proposed banning commissioners from receiving gifts from lobbyists or anyone who does business with the county and limiting other gifts to $50.

"They can buy their own damn tickets,'' said Bob Wolfe, a member of that commission. The ethics proposals will go to commissioners in March and if they don't approve them outright they will end up on the ballot.

Here is the email from Newton:

Many of you have recently received Super Bowl VIP pre-event tickets from the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau that, purportedly, are "not for sale" tickets and have "no" monetary value.

Among the several sponsors of each of these events is the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, which has a registered lobbyist with Broward County. Based on that fact, no gift from that organization may be accepted if it is valued in excess of $100.00.

According to the Florida Ethics Commission, as a matter of practice, public officials should not accept any gift, including event tickets, where the donor refuses to provide a valuation of the gift.  Valuation can almost always be determined, though some donors refuse to do so.

Despite our efforts, we have not been able to ascertain a monetary value to these event tickets.   That being the case, and in accordance with what we have been told by the Ethics Commission, you have two options:  you may choose not to accept the gift, or,  if you do accept/attend, you must indicate in detail on the Form 9 quarterly gift disclosure:  a) the nature of the gift (ticket), b) that you, as the donee, have attempted to ascertain the value but have not been able to do so, and c) that the value is "unknown."  The Form 9 specifically provides for this option, and sufficiently allows you to account for the gift.