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Ethics Codes

Robert Wechsler
A recent Miami Herald article describes a case that embodies a number of important government ethics issues, including the conflict issues that involve local schools of higher education, gifts to officials' relatives and the officials' knowledge of them, an ethics program's jurisdiction over these relatives, and whether government attorneys should provide...
Robert Wechsler
The long-running Carrigan case (Carrigan I, that is) may have finally come to an end. And it's a very good end. After the U.S. Supreme Court threw out Carrigan's absurd argument that a council member has a First Amendment free speech right to vote on legislative matters where he is conflicted, the Nevada Supreme Court concluded that, if a council member chooses not to seek ethics advice and votes on a matter involving someone with whom he has a special relationship, he cannot say...
Robert Wechsler
Now that Tallahassee's mayor has opposed all of the recommendations from a special ethics advisory panel (attached; see below), according to an article last week in the Tallahassee Democrat, it's about time to look at those recommendations and what, it appears, is going to happen to them.

The mayor's strong...
Robert Wechsler
Maryland has a rule that local ethics ordinances must require the disclosure of all an elected official's real property, stocks, and bonds. According to an article in the Carroll County Times, the Mount Airy council keeps passing an ethics ordinance that requires the disclosure only of real property in Mount Airy and...
Robert Wechsler
As I keep saying, conflicts are about "benefits" and "relationships" rather than about "interests," and this should be reflected in the language of ethics codes. The clash of these two kinds of language is the subject of a recent Virginia Supreme Court decision, Newberry Station Homeowners Assoc. et al v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfax...
Robert Wechsler
Ethics commissions are often stuck with one or more ethics provisions that they are know are, in some ways, irresponsible. They can recommend amendments to the provisions, but the legislative body is free to ignore such recommendations.

If this happens, an EC is not always powerless. It can often promulgate a regulation that can interpret the language in a provision, or provide exemptions, so that the provision is more responsible. The Massachusetts EC, which has jurisdiction over...

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