making local government more ethical

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Enforcement/Penalties

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...
Robert Wechsler
David A. Marcello, the Executive Director of the Public Law Center at Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, has been keeping close tabs on New Orleans' troubled ethics program. In 2011, he published a report on how Hurricane Katrina (2005) led New Orleans' officials to turn a moribund ethics program into one...
Robert Wechsler

Last month, Jonathan Rauch published a sincere and well-written defense of political machines, entitled "Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money, and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy" (Brooking Institution Press; available free as a PDF or e-book). Although the essay scarcely mentions conflicts of interest, gifts, nepotism, and the like, and it makes no mention at all of conflicts of...

Robert Wechsler

This is the second of four blog posts on Zephyr Teachout's excellent new book, Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United (Harvard Univ. Press).

A Culture of Gift Giving
In the book's introduction, Teachout notes that, back in the 18th century, the idea of elected officials accepting...

Robert Wechsler

This is the first of four blog posts in which I will look at Zephyr Teachout's excellent new book, Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United (Harvard Univ. Press), from a government ethics viewpoint. ...

Robert Wechsler

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez is to be indicted this week for bribery and failure to report gifts. Where there is an effective government ethics program, he would be easily found to have committed administrative government ethics violations. In a criminal case, the official has the edge (and he has already formed a legal defense fund, to obtain legal but inappropriate contributions from those seeking favors from him). According to...

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