In many jurisdictions, lawyers have sought to be excluded from
ethics program jurisdiction, arguing that their conduct is regulated
by their state's attorney disciplinary process. Recently, in Louisiana,
other professionals have sought to be excluded from the state ethics
program's jurisdiction (which includes local officials) pursuant to
a different argument.
The issue is, When do employees of a private company become government
employees for purposes of ethics program jurisdiction over them?
According to an
article in Sunday's Advocate
, "architects, engineers and
contractors sought an exemption from the [state] ethics code during the
2013 legislative session. Legislators refused."
Failing to get a legislative exemption, professional groups sought
exemption via a state ethics board advisory opinion. The ethics board
refused, as well. The board chair was very direct with the attorneys
representing the professional groups. He said, “I think you are
trying to get us to give a blanket exemption that the Legislature
wouldn’t give you.” He noted that the board had given professionals
guidance in the form of advisory opinions on particular cases, and
that factual scenarios are necessary for the board to be able to
provide an advisory opinion. He said that the “nebulous questions”
presented to the board look like “a trap.” The board's decision not to provide an advisory opinion in this situation was, I think, correct.