Election Day

Professor Nancy Simon, a faculty member in the public policy department, is planning to study the effect of electronic voting machines on the accuracy of election results in California. Under the project she will  review current voting trends and evaluate the utility and efficacy of voting machines produced by two of the largest machine manufacturers. Professor Simon does not own stock in either company. However, for the past two years she has received modest fees ($600) from one of the companies for speaking at an annual conference for county registrars about electronic voting machines. The company from which she receives speaker’s fees will be partially funding her research.Is Professor Simon required to disclose the payment in speaker fees on a Form 700-U?

A. Yes, because the payment exceeds the $50 threshold for gifts.
B. Yes, because the payment exceeds the $500 threshold for income from a non-governmental sponsor as set by California State law.
C. No, because she has never favored one type of machine over another.
D. No, but she should strongly consider it because the company paying her may be affected by the results of her research.


Correct answer is B.


Speaker fees for conference presentations are generally considered income when the presentation is closely aligned with the presenter’s University research. The $600 in fees must be disclosed on the Form 700-U because it exceeds the $500 annual reporting threshold for income from the sponsor of the research.  For additional information about whether a speaker fee for a particular presentation may be accepted please contact your local Administrative COI Coordinator.

The financial interest she discloses will be reviewed to determine whether it constitutes a conflict of interest. In this case, the “perception of a conflict of interest” concerns are increased because she has been paid by a voting machine manufacturer and has publicly supported the use of electronic voting.