Ellen DeGeneres's Gift to Firefighters Raises Ethics Questions
Four firefighters who bravely rescued a dog from the freezing Charles River were forced to return a gift of Caribbean cruise tickets from talk show host Ellen DeGeneres because ethics policy limits the value of gifts they can receive to $50.
"It was a nice gesture on Ellen's part, and the firefighters were surprised by that, but state statute is very clear, so we FedExed the vouchers back to the Ellen show," Wellesley Fire Chief Richard DeLorie told the Boston Globe.
The team of firefighters appeared on "Ellen" Tuesday to talk about their rescue on Dec. 22 of a golden retriever that had chased a squirrel onto the ice and then fell through into the icy water.
"I love Boston [but] it's very cold there and I believe you deserve to go someplace very warm," the talk show host told Wellesley Fire Captain Jim Dennehy, Lt. Paul Delaney, Dave Papazian and Joan Cullinan.
The firefighters were allowed to keep the monogrammed orange life vests DeGeneres gave them. She included a doggie vest for Crosby, the rescued retriever. The chief told the Globe these are considered novelty items with only sentimental value.
The fire department allowed the show to pay for plane fare to transport the men to California for the show's taping.
"In this case, these guys were flying out Sunday and coming home right after the taping on Monday night," DeLorie told the newspaper. "That's not a pleasure trip; that's to promote a good public service story. and that met the test, in my opinion, that it was for more public than private benefit."
A spokeswoman at the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission cited confidentiality laws and declined to comment on the matter.