What is the “market value” of a ticket to an event with no entrance fee?  Event sponsors and executive branch employees have long struggled on the best way to estimate the market value of government employees attending free, especially invitation-only, events.  Finally, we have an answer.

The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) issued a legal advisory to explain how federal employees should calculate the “market value” of attending an event with no entrance fee.  The answer is to aggregate the market value of any food, beverages, entertainment, or other tangible benefit offered to attendees in connection with the event.  However, the cost the sponsor incurred to rent the venue does not need to be included.

To ascertain this value, an executive branch employee can estimate the market value by reference to the retail cost of similar items of like quality or rely on a per-person estimate provided by the sponsor of the event — unless the government employee finds the sponsor’s estimate to be implausible or inconsistent with a fair value estimate.

Photo of Angelle Smith Baugh Angelle Smith Baugh

Angelle Smith Baugh is of counsel in the firm’s Election and Political Law and White Collar Litigation practice groups. She has significant experience in broad-based crisis management, advising clients on legal and political matters presenting complex risks.

Angelle’s practice focuses on defending companies…

Angelle Smith Baugh is of counsel in the firm’s Election and Political Law and White Collar Litigation practice groups. She has significant experience in broad-based crisis management, advising clients on legal and political matters presenting complex risks.

Angelle’s practice focuses on defending companies and individuals in high-profile congressional investigations, as well as other criminal, civil, and internal investigations. She represents clients before House and Senate Committees, as well as in criminal and civil government investigations before the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice, Federal Election Commission, and the Office of Congressional Ethics.

She assists companies and executives responding to formal and informal inquiries from Congress and executive branch agencies for documents, information, and testimony. She has experience preparing CEOs and other senior executives to testify before challenging congressional oversight hearings.

Angelle also has experience and expertise navigating federal and state ethics laws, and provides ongoing political law advice to companies, trade associations, PACs, and individuals.