making local government more ethical

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Campaign Finance

Robert Wechsler

Old soft money was associated with access, like a wad of cash that you’d slip to a nightclub bouncer to get in the door. The new soft money is more like a bulge in one’s jacket pocket, an implied threat against those who refuse to comply.


—Dan Tokaji and Renata Strause in an Election Law Blog post yesterday that summarizes their new report, "...
Robert Wechsler
In 2012, Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown signed a People's Pledge in their U.S. senatorial race in Massachusetts. The candidates agreed to donate to a charity of the other candidate's choice a sum equal to 50% of any advertisement run by any outside group or PAC. The goal was to let the candidates control their own race and to prevent outside groups from changing the nature of the race, especially by running negative ads, as they tend to do. The pledge was successful because, as the candidates...
Robert Wechsler
San Francisco's board of supervisors will soon vote on a number of amendments to its lobbying code (attached; see below). According to an article in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle, the amendments are based on recommendations by local good government groups, which have pointed out that loopholes in the current law allow many lobbyists...
Robert Wechsler
You're a government official who has had an ethics complaint filed against you. You want it go away. What do you do? According to an article in The Missoulian this weekend, there may be a new arrow in your quiver:  file a court suit demanding dismissal of the complaint on the grounds of a...
Robert Wechsler
It's questionable whether a contractor, developer, grantee, or other individual or entity that seeks special benefits from a local government should be permitted to make sizeable campaign contributions to candidates for positions in the local government. But if they are not permitted to make such contributions directly, they should not be permitted to make them indirectly, either.

According to...
Robert Wechsler
According to a post in the Crain's Insider blog last week, the New York City council hired as deputy general counsel a lobbyist whose firm recently had been the council speaker's campaign consultant (the speaker is the leader of the NY city council, elected by its members). This raises an interesting conflict issue relating not only to hiring...

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