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Transactions with Subordinates

This provision deals with the potential coercion, or appearance of coercion, that accompanies outside dealings between officials and subordinates. Please share your experiences with this problem and ways to deal with it in ethics codes.

100(14). Transactions with Subordinates

No official or employee* may engage in a financial transaction, including the giving or receiving of loans or monetary contributions, including charitable contributions, with a subordinate* or person or business over which, in the official or employee's* official duties and responsibilities, he or she exercises supervisory responsibility, unless (a) the financial transaction is in the normal course of a regular commercial business or occupation, or (b) the financial transaction involves a charitable event or fundraising activity which is the subject of general sponsorship by a state or municipal agency through official action by a governing body or the highest official of state or municipal government.

Comment: Exception (b) allows for United Way campaigns and the like, but officials should be careful not to abuse this exception by getting pet charities approved by the mayor or city manager. Too often, charities are as much about the official as elections are, and even good causes should not be aided through coercion.

Some cities might also want to except situations where the subordinate or business offers or initiates the financial transaction, but this exception can be abused in instances where a subordinate or business acted under pressure and does not feel in a position to anger a supervisor or someone responsible for handing out contracts.

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