making local government more ethical

Posted on January 24th, 2014 on the Harvard Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics Blog:

http://www.ethics.harvard.edu/lab/blog/394-happy-birthday-citizens-united

City Ethics president, Carla Miller, worked with Integrity Florida (Dan Krassner) and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans (Richard Polangin) on a Resolution that passed at the annual conference of the Alliance last week. This is part of an emerging citizen initiative in Florida that involves numerous groups joining forces to fight for the passage of effective laws in Florida to close loopholes in current ethics laws. As stated in the resolution, Florida leads the nation in public corruption convictions.

The resolution (see below) calls for a change in Florida law that will allow the Ethics Commission to self-initiate complaints. Now, if they become aware of an ethics violation, they have to sit on their hands and do nothing unless a citizen files a complaint. Also, the resolution calls for the creation of independent Ethics Officers statewide who can only be fired with the approval of the State Ethics Commission. There are also recommendations on transparency of state contracts and a review of penalties for ethics violations.

In order to have effective ethics reform, citizen groups must be engaged and educated. Then they need to be coordinated into a focused lobbying group. This resolution is the first of many to come in Florida and we will be shooting for legislative changes in the spring of 2013.

I am conducting a national research study on government ethics programs with a focus on training. This research is being done in connection with the Ethics Center of the University of North Florida. Cities across the U.S. are being studied as to their ethics program structure, training requirements and training methods.


Cities across the United States are creating and expanding Ethics Commissions, Ethics Offices and Inspector Generals in order to fight corruption and establish higher ethical standards for their governments.

I will be posting some of the best ideas from these programs on this site.

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