Bribery

Under the bribery law, at 18 U.S.C. § 201(b), an executive branch employee may not demand, seek, receive, accept or agree to accept anything of value “in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act.” The bribery law is often compared to two other criminal provisions:

  • Under 18 U.S.C. § 201(c), the illegal gratuities statute, an employee may not demand, seek, receive, accept, or agree to accept anything of value “for or because of any official act” performed or to be performed by the employee.
  • Under 18 U.S.C. § 209, the supplementation of salary statute, an employee may not receive any salary or supplementation of salary, from any person other than the Government, as compensation for services as a Government employee.

The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is not authorized to interpret the bribery law, but OGE has cited legal opinions or provided advisory or regulatory guidance concerning the relationship between the bribery law, the illegal gratuities statute, the supplementation of salary statute, and the administrative gifts provisions in the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (5 C.F.R. part 2635). Notably:

  • In a legal advisory, OGE alerted ethics officials to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Sun-Diamond Growers of California, 526 U.S. 398 (1999). The Supreme Court explained in its opinion that the feature distinguishing 18 U.S.C. § 201(b) and 18 U.S.C. § 201(c) is the intent element.
  • In a legal advisory, OGE explained that a gift accepted in accordance with the Standards of Conduct regulation is not prohibited by 18 U.S.C. § 209.
  • 5 C.F.R. § 2635.202(b) makes it clear that a gift accepted from an outside source in accordance with the Standards of Conduct regulation is not prohibited by 18 U.S.C. § 201(c), unless it is accepted in return for being influenced in the performance of an official act.

The information on this page is not a substitute for individual advice. Agency ethics officials should be consulted about specific situations.