Massachusetts has been very busy reforming its ethics laws. Most of the
reforms involve the increase of penalties, plugging loopholes, banning
gifts, and increasing the authority of the state ethics commission,
which has jurisdiction over local government officials and employees.
Highlights of the reform
bill can be found in an...
An interesting disagreement has arisen over what is required for a contract with a council member to constitute a conflict of
interest in California. According to an
article in the Valley Chronicle, the city of Hemet and the League
of California Cities disagree with a grand jury about whether a particular council
member has a conflict. The council member is the executive director, and...
In past blog posts, I
have focused on the perjury charges against Baltimore mayor Sheila
Dixon that relate to her failure to disclose gifts from a developer who
was seeking tax breaks. But today, Dixon goes on trial for theft
involving gift cards allegedly given to the office of the city council
president, which she filled at the time, and used by her for personal
It's rare that the number of a fraud
provision (419) is used as the chorus of a musical number, but this
is what happens in a song about government corruption in the new
Broadway musical Fela.
Fela is an amazing concert-biography of Fela Kuti...
One thing I've failed to do in this blog is sufficiently emphasize that
ethical decisions in government is not primarily about being a good,
ethical person, as most people seem to think. Essentially, it is the
same as making other
decisions. As I
recently wrote, "with effective training, in an
ethical environment, government ethics should be just another
Many of the most difficult situations in government ethics involve
relationships that are not direct. For example, situations where the
company that provides a benefit does not do business with the local
government, but is owned by someone who owns another company that does
do business with or have an interest in legislation before the local
government (click here for
a recent example). Technically, the company...