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Advisory Council on Ethics (ACE)

Advisory Council on Ethics Opinion No. 7

March 25, 1998

An employee submitted a question regarding the use of State vehicles, and wanted to know if it was appropriate for a Chain-Bus to be utilized for delivery of toys collected for the Toys for Tots charity drive. The employee felt it was inappropriate but wished for ACE to issue an opinion.

The Advisory Council on Ethics has reviewed the letter concerning the use of TDCJ equipment. We agree with the decision that, though a worthwhile function, the use of a TDCJ Chain-Bus in this manner would be in direct violation of State Law and Agency Policy. Article IX Section 5 of The General Appropriations Act (1997) and A. D. 2.50 prohibit employees from using State-owned vehicles for any purpose other than official state business. The use of the TDCJ Chain-Bus for delivery of the toys cannot be considered state business.

The proposed TDCJ Ethics Policy contains the same prohibitions as AD-2.50 but does provide specific instances where a State vehicle may be used for personal purposes. This includes "incidental" uses of State property where the employees' personal life may occasionally intersect with their work life. The situation mentioned in the letter would not be considered "incidental" and therefore it would not be allowed within this policy.

It is the opinion of ACE that the employee's decision was correct and in accordance with existing TDCJ policies.