making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
I am a big believer in officials taking voluntary action to improve an ethics environment when passing laws is not possible. For example, if the state and the council both choose not to prohibit campaign contributions from restricted sources, that is no reason why a mayoral candidate should not make it known that he will reject such contributions and do his best to get all candidates to reject them. In many instances, this can be the end of such campaign contributions in that particular city or...
Robert Wechsler
Rarely is a non-politician celebrity the subject of a local government ethics matter. So with David Beckham the subject of a Miami-Dade County ethics commission investigative report last week, and with important issues to boot [pun intended], this is an impossible matter to pass by.

Initiating Contact
The most interesting issues in this matter are whether lobbying is a one-way street, and the underlying issue: whether motive or intent is relevant to lobbying. That is,...
Robert Wechsler
Another mayor has resigned after getting caught by an FBI sting. According to an article in yesterday's Charlotte Observer, Charlotte's mayor, Patrick Cannon, has been alleged to have accepted bribes from undercover agents in return for promises to help them. His alleged crimes occurred when he was a council member and in the five months since he became...
Robert Wechsler
Can anyone volunteer for a local political campaign without it being considered a contribution? Isn't it everyone's right to do so? Isn't this just about the most important thing a citizen can do, short of running for office herself?

According to the Toronto Metro News website last week, a "political strategist" and lobbyist who was...
Robert Wechsler
Colorado has an extremely dysfunctional ethics program, everyone is complaining about it, but approaches to fixing it are sometimes just as dysfunctional. A year ago, I wrote three blog posts about its problems and people's complaints (total gift ban; lack of independence, including ethics commission members...
Robert Wechsler
One Indian tribe wants to build a casino, another tribe already has one in the area and doesn't want competition. You're a council member in the city that can effectively block the casino from being built. Both tribes want your support, and are willing to back up that support with campaign contributions. What do you do?

According to an article in yesterday's ...