In a public relations move, Sleepy’s — a mattress company — announced it will give pillows to freshmen Members of Congress who sleep in their offices. The gifts, however, could run afoul of House gift rules.
A Member of Congress “may accept a gift … that [he or she] believes to have a value of less than $50,” according to House Rule XXV. So, what is a good night’s sleep worth?
Sleepy’s press release isn’t clear, but it links to a two-pack of “Harmony Jumbo Pillows,” which retail for $39.99, but are available for the low low price of $31.99, plus tax. If these are indeed the pillows that will be delivered to our nation’s capitol, Members of Congress can rest easy so long a the pillows don’t come from a registered lobbyist or a private entity that retains or employs registered lobbyists. If Sleepy’s has a lobbyist — and it appears they do not — the pillows need to be returned or paid for. Otherwise, the gift appears fine.
However, were Sleepy’s to provide a more expensive pillow set, say the “Rapture Perfect Posture Memory Foam Pillow” (set of two) for $55.99 plus tax, or the “Tempur-Pedic Rhapsody Pillow,” a steal at $199.99 plus tax, the gifts would cause a political nightmare.