making local government more ethical

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Gifts

Robert Wechsler
What are the government ethics implications of private security when it goes beyond protecting specific businesses, malls, universities, and gated communities, becomes an adjunct to or replacement of an ordinary police force, and is done in conjunction with the public police force and, often, using off-duty public police officers?

Favoritism
One problem is that such private forces generally protect the most wealthy neighborhoods. Setting up a neighborhood force with the...
Robert Wechsler

Philadelphia's Democratic mayoral primary this week brings the national focus on Super PACs to the local level. In that primary, which is the most important election in that Democratically-inclined city, most of the money that was spent was spent by Super PACs, not by candidates.

According to an article in the National Journal this week, the three...

Robert Wechsler

This is the fourth 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).

Extortion and Pay to Play
Teachout talks about the difference in the origins of bribery and extortion statutes, the first coming out 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

An example I often use for why government ethics laws are only minimum requirements is that these laws cannot include friendships or romantic relationships, because these are impossible to define with any precision. When a relationship is not included because it is undefinable, this does not mean that one should not treat this relationship like any other special relationship and withdraw from matters involving that individual. One should go beyond the minimum requirements of the law and...

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