making local government more ethical

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A review of the various products of Carla's network fellowship at the Safra Center for Ethics @ Harvard University.

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Session Materials

Session Notes for recent presentations by Carla Miller. e.g. #UNRIG 2018

Robert Wechsler
Lobbyist Extortion
According to an article yesterday on Columbus, Ohio's NBC 4 website, a lobbyist for a red-light camera company pleaded guilty to charges that he solicited campaign contributions for elected city officials from his client by creating the impression that the money was needed to bribe the city officials. The lobbyist had helped the company win the city contract...
Robert Wechsler

Criminal enforcement of ethics violations usually involves fraud, and less so honest services fraud (which was essentially misuse of office) now that it has been essentially limited to bribery. And yet ethics enforcement rarely involves fraud, because ethics codes do not have fraud provisions. This is pretty strange, when you think about it:  the same misconduct being treated as apples and oranges.

Can local government ethics commissions enforce against fraud even without fraud-...

Robert Wechsler
A former head of Chicago's public school system has said she will plead guilty to a scheme to take hundreds of thousands of dollars, airfare, meals, and baseball tickets in exchange for steering more than $23 million in no-bid contracts to her former employer, an educational consulting and training company. The situation provides a valuable look at the problems that can arise when someone goes through the revolving door in the manner that is often overlooked by ethics code:  from a company that...
Robert Wechsler
It was only a matter of time before the U.S. Supreme Court's campaign finance opinions (and decisions at the trial and appellate level that have applied them to other situations) would be used to argue that conduct prohibited or limited by government ethics provisions are also protected as free speech by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In August 2015, a complaint against the state legislative ethics commission (attached; see below) was filed in the Eastern District of...
Robert Wechsler

Many local government attorneys insist that government ethics laws should not apply to them because they are covered by legal ethics rules. In fact, some government ethics codes have express exceptions for attorneys. I have always insisted that the two are very separate and should not be confused with each other. A recent Ohio Board of Professional...

Robert Wechsler
Eula Biss's excellent book On Immunity (Graywolf Press, 2014) is not about legislative immunity, but about immunity to diseases. And yet there is a great deal of food for thought in it about municipal ethics.

The first parallel can be seen in the "mun" in both "immunity" and "municipal." It comes from the same Latin word "munus," which means service or duty. Who knew that...

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