making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Update: October 21, 2009 (see below)
Two interesting issues come out of a long, detailed Kansas City Star article yesterday about Missouri political consultant, and recent house speaker, Ron Jetton.

Political Consultants and the Definition of "Lobbyist"
One involves the definition of "lobbyist." Missouri Revised Statutes §105.470(5)(a) defines "legislative lobbyist" as someone "acting in...
Robert Wechsler
One problem in government ethics is that when conflict situations are dealt with responsibly, there is rarely a record of them. They pass quietly, failing to end up in the newspaper, at an ethics commission, or in court. So generally we're stuck learning from the times when conflict situations are dealt with irresponsibly. One of these situations, in Wausau, Wisconsin, made it to court, and a decision this week by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin sets the facts out...
Robert Wechsler
Online Training List Updated May 24, 2013

More and more government ethics information and training materials are available online, so that they can be easily accessed at any time. Everything from FAQs to information sheets to plain-English guides to quizzes to videos.

These materials are not only useful to the local government employees and officials they are intended for. They are also useful to those in other local governments who have to draft such materials...
Robert Wechsler
In your county, a major corruption investigation is being conducted by the FBI. Already, nearly twenty county employees, city building inspectors, and businessmen have pleaded guilty (see an earlier blog post on the investigation). Others are holding out. What do you do?

The usual answer is to create an effective ethics program. In Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, two sets of officials are instead talking about the...
Robert Wechsler

Update: February 2, 2010 (see below)

A recent New York Times article concerns a potential conflict in the city council speaker's office. But what is most interesting about the article is the bigger question it raises about differentiating between businesses and unions in pay-to-play laws.

The head of field operations for New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg was, before she...
Robert Wechsler
Once again, a local government official's attempt to use a charity to get around campaign finance laws has blown up in his face. According to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, an Atlanta council member was fined $25,000 by a state court for failing to register a foundation (named after himself) and failing to maintain financial records for it.

The...

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