making local government more ethical

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Enforcement/Penalties

Robert Wechsler
What is the worst thing a government official can do when a conflict situation becomes public? Is it worse to misrepresent the law, to make accusations against those making the conflict situation public, or to ignore the situation and hope nobody notices?

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has done all of the above with respect to the exposure of a secret gift of $2 million by an association of gambling companies to a 501(c)(4) organization closely associated with the governor...
Robert Wechsler
Update: July 17, 2012 (see end of this post)

Here's an interesting conflict situation from Concord, NH. According to a recent article in the Concord Patch, a state representative filed ethics complaints against Concord's mayor and one of the city's council members. Since the mayor and city manager had not selected members for the city's ethics board, which was...
Robert Wechsler
Check out a valuable essay on pension forfeiture by Dylan Scott, which was posted on the Governing website in February. The essay looks at the various arguments for and against pension forfeiture, looks at how these laws come about (after scandals), and provides information about state pension forfeiture laws, with links to the laws. It's an excellent resource on this issue...
Robert Wechsler
I was on a panel this week as part of the annual Citywide Seminar on Ethics in New York City Government, co-sponsored by the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) and the Center for New York City Law at the New York Law School. The panel was called "Challenges & Solutions in Government Ethics in Other Municipalities."

I want to share two ideas that were raised by other members of the panel, who included Mark Davies, the executive director of the COIB; Shane Creamer,...
Robert Wechsler
A few issues arise in the case of a Pennsylvania state senator who reached a settlement this week with the state's ethics commission that included a fine of $21,000, according to an article in yesterday's Montgomery County Times Herald.

Pennsylvania state senators are paid for the rental of their district offices. This senator's wife (and then the senator himself after their...
Robert Wechsler
For the second time in a year, a local ethics commission has been the subject of a grand jury report. The first was San Francisco's (see my blog post). There, it was a civil grand jury and the focus was on the commission. Here and now, it is a criminal grand jury, and the focus is on the county executive and other officials, as well as ethics commission members. The...

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