making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler

"At the end of the day, anybody could fall into a trap like I did."
— Former New York state senator Thomas W. Libous, after being sentenced to a $50,000 fine and probation for lying about the fact that he helped get his son a job with a local law firm and then arranged for a $50,000 payment to the law firm by a lobbying firm that represented clients with matters before him. It is rare for indirect pay to play to be prosecuted. It happened only because the senator lied about...
Robert Wechsler
I have all but called for prohibiting mayoral golf tournaments and similar pet nonprofit events, because they are an unnecessary form of pay to play that is legal primarily because they help good causes in the community. China, which tends to take things too far, has gone extremely far in the latest order of the Communist Party's Central Committee, according to...
Robert Wechsler
A former head of Chicago's public school system has said she will plead guilty to a scheme to take hundreds of thousands of dollars, airfare, meals, and baseball tickets in exchange for steering more than $23 million in no-bid contracts to her former employer, an educational consulting and training company. The situation provides a valuable look at the problems that can arise when someone goes through the revolving door in the manner that is often overlooked by ethics code:  from a company that...
Robert Wechsler
It was only a matter of time before the U.S. Supreme Court's campaign finance opinions (and decisions at the trial and appellate level that have applied them to other situations) would be used to argue that conduct prohibited or limited by government ethics provisions are also protected as free speech by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In August 2015, a complaint against the state legislative ethics commission (attached; see below) was filed in the Eastern District of...
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?

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...