Sniffing around Bo Obama’s legality

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Much of Washington let out a collective ‘aww’ yesterday, as the First Family introduced Bo Obama — a Portugese water dog — to the world. The dog is a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.

So naturally, upon seeing the first photos of the pup romping on the White House lawn, the first questions that sprang to mind here at PaperTrail were: Was this a legal gift under executive branch ethics rules? And, when President Obama leaves the White House, does the dog have to go to a presidential library? Surely you were wondering the same thing.

While generally large gifts from foreign officials are considered “gifts to the people” and become U.S. property, the president has wide discretion to accept domestic gifts as long as they are disclosed and not intended as a bribe, which Bo, surely, is not.

This means that the Obamas won’t have to leave Bo behind when they leave the White House in four or eight years.

And FYI, gifts from foreign officials may also be kept by the president as long as they don’t exceed $335 in value. So the Obamas can hang onto those framed photos of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, as well.

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