When Paul Patrick, a state Department of Health director, was offered tickets to a couple of Utah Jazz games earlier this year by the head of the Utah Hospital Association, he said he didn't think twice about passing them along to co-workers.
But Patrick has since found out that accepting the tickets was in violation of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s ethics policy for executive branch employees after the association president and CEO, Joe Krella, filed a lobbyist financial disclosure report that listed the gift.
Lobbyists are required to report what they spend on government employees and officials four times a year. This year's first report is due Thursday, just over a month after the end of the 2008 Legislature.
Patrick, director of the department's Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, paid the association back the $840 value of the tickets and will talk to bureau employees about the governor's ethics policy, put in place by executive order in February 2007.
"It was a mistake," Patrick said. "This is just something where I learned my lesson."
Patrick said while he understood the tickets were coming from the association, he didn't realize Krella was a lobbyist. He said the department works closely with the association and considers them "great partners."
The governor's office, which contacted the health department after being told by a reporter about the lobbyist's report, determined taking the tickets was "a violation of the executive order on gifts," Huntsman spokeswoman Lisa Roskelley said.
"We want to make sure all employees understand what the policy is and what the implications are," Roskelley said. "It's expected if they're going to take things outside the parameters of the executive order, they pay the market value."For all of the lobbyist reports, visit elections.utah.gov.