That’s a really nice bottle of wine the President gave the Speaker of the House for his birthday: A reserve bottling of the Brunello di Montalcino from a top producer (Poggio Antico) – and a great vintage (1997!) to boot.
It’s also expensive. The only place I can find it for sale in Washington, DC is Schneider’s of Capitol Hill (good place – I once scored a couple bottles of Pappy van Winkle there, but that is another story). The price tag: $125.
Here’s a picture tweeted by Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck:
Obama birthday gift to Boehner yfrog.com/odun7rggj
— Brendan Buck (@Brendan_Buck) November 16, 2012
Now, not to be a downer here, but members of the U.S. House of Representatives are subject to limits on the cash value of gifts they can receive.
The House gift limit: $50 for a single gift and no combination of gifts from a single source can exceed $100 a year.
So, it appears, Speaker Boehner may not be able to accept this gift without violating House ethics rules. Don’t believe me? Just read page 295 of the House Ethics Manual right HERE.
There are some exceptions to the gift rule laid out in the Ethics Manual if Obama and Boehner are personal friends or if President Obama could be considered a “government entity.”
If the bottle of wine does indeed violate House rules, Speaker Boehner needs to either promptly return the bottle of wine, pay the President the fair market value of the wine or get a waiver (rarely granted) by the House Ethics Committee.