making local government more ethical

You are here

Ethics Commissions/Administration

Robert Wechsler
One of the news media's biggest problems is failing to look at the big picture and, instead, focusing on specific events and issues. This is especially true when it comes to government ethics, where the news media generally considers, and calls for, ethics reforms on a piecemeal basis.

An article on the Innovateli website yesterday shows that this same limited vision applies when a government ethics reform involves the...
Robert Wechsler
When gifts from lobbyists to government officials are discussed, what they consist of is usually money (including campaign contributions), meals, trips, and services. A pending Missouri House bill  (2059; attached, see below) seeks to extend the definition of reportable "gift" from lobbyists in this context to include:

sexual relations between a registered lobbyist and a member of the general assembly or his or her staff. Relations between married persons or between persons...
Robert Wechsler
Several of the women who accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct toward them have filed defamation suits, based on his conduct and, especially, on the conduct of his attorneys, who not only stated Cosby's denial of sexual misconduct, but also went on the attack against the accusing women.

This situation reminds me of what sometimes happens when government officials are accused of ethical misconduct. They and their attorneys do not stop at denials. They insist that they are the...
Robert Wechsler
Seattle's public campaign financing Initiative I-122 passed easily on Tuesday. It should prove to be an excellent experiment in campaign finance vouchers, an idea that has been batted about at the federal level, as well.

Here's how it works. Each election cycle (two years) the city's ethics commission will mail four $25 vouchers to each registered voter, to be given, if they choose, to any...
Robert Wechsler
Lobbyist Extortion
According to an article yesterday on Columbus, Ohio's NBC 4 website, a lobbyist for a red-light camera company pleaded guilty to charges that he solicited campaign contributions for elected city officials from his client by creating the impression that the money was needed to bribe the city officials. The lobbyist had helped the company win the city contract...
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...