making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
In some counties, when a company seeks small-business or women- or minority-owned business designation for a county contract, this designation also applies to the municipalities within the county. Why can't the same sort of thing apply to lobbying? Tampa council member Lisa Montelione has asked this question, according to a September Tampa Bay Times...
Robert Wechsler
Campaign Vendors Lobbying Their Candidates
According to an article in the Capital (of DE) Gazette, an assistant state's attorney for Anne Arundel County, whose political firm was paid $200,000 by the successful candidate for county executive, is also a lobbyist for a company involved in a stormwater pilot program for the county. Since the state's attorney...
Robert Wechsler

Criminal enforcement of ethics violations usually involves fraud, and less so honest services fraud (which was essentially misuse of office) now that it has been essentially limited to bribery. And yet ethics enforcement rarely involves fraud, because ethics codes do not have fraud provisions. This is pretty strange, when you think about it:  the same misconduct being treated as apples and oranges.

Can local government ethics commissions enforce against fraud even without fraud-...

Robert Wechsler

Many local government attorneys insist that government ethics laws should not apply to them because they are covered by legal ethics rules. In fact, some government ethics codes have express exceptions for attorneys. I have always insisted that the two are very separate and should not be confused with each other. A recent Ohio Board of Professional...

Robert Wechsler
According to an article yesterday in the Rockdale Citizen, Rockdale County, GA's county commission is having a debate on how to select its three-member ethics board and its alternates. Unfortunately, it's a debate that is being waged with no reference to best practices and almost no outside professional input. It's as if a debate about a construction project...
Robert Wechsler
Ethics commissions appointed by local legislative bodies, mayors, or county executives are often referred to as "independent commissions." I don't believe that these commissions should be considered "independent," because those who select the EC members are under the members' jurisdiction and, in fact, are the people most likely to come before them. These EC members are perceived as biased toward their appointing party, which is far from "independence."

According to...