Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, Rep. Cliff Stearns, and Rep. Ron Paul say “no,” and have sent a letter to the President asking him to request congressional consent, which they expect would be speedily given. They point to the example of President Theodore Roosevelt, who created a committee, including the Chief Justice, to hold Roosevelt’s Nobel Peace Prize money in trust until he left office. After leaving office, Roosevelt asked for congressional consent to disburse the money to particular charities.
Article I, § 9, clause 8, of the Constitution states that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
When Roosevelt won the Peace Prize, there was apparently no controlling statute. Today there is: 5 USC § 7342 (titled “Receipt and disposition of foreign gifts and decorations”) sets out the conditions under which foreign gifts can be accepted without a separate action of Congress. The statute applies to an “employee,” which includes “the President and the Vice President.”
A “foreign government” includes ” any agent or representative of any such [foreign] unit or such organization, while acting as such.” Since the Nobel Peace Prize committee is, as the Representatives note, appointed by the Norwegian Storting (the legislature), it would seem to be within the scope of the statute.
A “gift” is “a tangible or intangible present (other than a decoration) .” A “decoration” includes a ” medal, badge, insignia, emblem, or award.”
By the statute, Congress explicitly consents to employee receipt of gifts of “minimal value,” which is “means a retail value in the United States at the time of acceptance of $100 or less.” The statute authorizes the Administrator of General Services […]