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Employees at the Centre City Development Corp. can no longer accept gifts.
Fred Maas, the CCDC chairman and acting CEO, today issued a ban on gifts, a week after an audit questioned the agency’s staff for accepting gifts from developers doing business downtown.
Public employees at CCDC and other agencies are legally allowed to accept gifts valued up to $420, provided that they disclose them on annual conflict-of-interest reporting forms.
While legal, auditors examining CCDC said the practice was dubious. The agency has a responsibility to engage in objective deals “that are free from conflicts of interest in fact and appearance,” the audit stated.
In a memo to CCDC’s staff and board, Maas said the ban is necessary “to establish the utmost level of transparency and integrity.”
“CCDC staff will no longer accept any gifts, period,” Maas wrote. “All gifts sent to members of the corporation will be returned immediately with a letter stating our new policy.”
Employees who attend groundbreaking or grand-opening ceremonies hosted by downtown developers will have to get approval from CCDC’s executive vice president. If approved, CCDC will then pay the per-person cost of attendance.
“[W]e believe these additional steps are important in ensuring an even greater level of transparency and public trust,” Maas wrote.