making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Considering that it reflects a typical approach to lobbying, it is valuable to look at the language of a resolution to improve Austin's lobbying oversight program (attached; see below). It is also valuable to consider the opposition to this resolution by a coalition of local architects, engineers, and contractors, according to an article in the Austin Monitor this week.
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Robert Wechsler
Rarely do agencies' own lobbyists get caught by their agency breaking agency rules on communications. This is what just happened in Houston. According to an article last night on Houston's Channel 13 website, an individual who, under a contract, lobbies state and federal officials for the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, TX (METRO) disclosed that he had spoken with a judge...
Robert Wechsler
Campaign Vendors Lobbying Their Candidates
According to an article in the Capital (of DE) Gazette, an assistant state's attorney for Anne Arundel County, whose political firm was paid $200,000 by the successful candidate for county executive, is also a lobbyist for a company involved in a stormwater pilot program for the county. Since the state's attorney...
Robert Wechsler
Lobbyist Extortion
According to an article yesterday on Columbus, Ohio's NBC 4 website, a lobbyist for a red-light camera company pleaded guilty to charges that he solicited campaign contributions for elected city officials from his client by creating the impression that the money was needed to bribe the city officials. The lobbyist had helped the company win the city contract...
Robert Wechsler

Criminal enforcement of ethics violations usually involves fraud, and less so honest services fraud (which was essentially misuse of office) now that it has been essentially limited to bribery. And yet ethics enforcement rarely involves fraud, because ethics codes do not have fraud provisions. This is pretty strange, when you think about it:  the same misconduct being treated as apples and oranges.

Can local government ethics commissions enforce against fraud even without fraud-...

Robert Wechsler
A former head of Chicago's public school system has said she will plead guilty to a scheme to take hundreds of thousands of dollars, airfare, meals, and baseball tickets in exchange for steering more than $23 million in no-bid contracts to her former employer, an educational consulting and training company. The situation provides a valuable look at the problems that can arise when someone goes through the revolving door in the manner that is often overlooked by ethics code:  from a company that...

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