making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez is to be indicted this week for bribery and failure to report gifts. Where there is an effective government ethics program, he would be easily found to have committed administrative government ethics violations. In a criminal case, the official has the edge (and he has already formed a legal defense fund, to obtain legal but inappropriate contributions from those seeking favors from him). According to...

Robert Wechsler

Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail account is not something that is done only at the federal level. Lots of mayors and council members, as well as other government officials, do public business on private accounts, even if they have a publicly provided cellphone and computer.

The principal issue in articles and posts about the Clinton case is transparency. But there is another issue:  the confusion of person and office (see...

Robert Wechsler

The word "fiefdom" does not appear in the U.S. Justice Department's March 4 report on Ferguson, MO's police department, but that is what the report describes. What is unusual about the fiefdom is that it is controlled by the council, not by an executive or attorney. It is far from a classic fiefdom, which is why Ferguson has once again...

Robert Wechsler

Across the country, requests for citizen complaints provide not only for complaints, but also for commendations. I happened to notice one of these when I was in the nation's capital this weekend, and it got me wondering why this is not done with respect to government ethics complaints and hotline reports.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if ethics commissions were to ask citizens to file commendations regarding government officials' responsible handling of conflicts of interest situations?...

Robert Wechsler

Yesterday, two members of a New York City council member's election campaign were indicted on criminal charges brought by a special prosecutor, who was appointed in 2012. Read this December 2014 New York Law Journal op-ed piece by Brennan Center (NYU) Chief Counsel and longtime New York City Corporation Counsel Frederick A.O. Schwarz, which argues very well that this...

Robert Wechsler

Is it, as Every Voice says in its celebratory e-mail last night, an "exciting victory [that] sent a loud and clear mandate to city and state governments to fundamentally reform the way we fund elections so that everyday Americans can take back control of their democracy"?

Or is it, as the more cynical...

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