This is the third of three posts on how Richard W. Painter's recommendations for federal ethics reform in his book, Getting
the Government America Deserves: How Ethics Reform Can Make a
(Oxford U.P., 2009), may be applied to local government ethics programs.
Lobbying is not as big a problem for most local governments as it is at the federal level, but
when it is a problem, it often involves lobbying by high-level
officials' family members. Painter recommends prohibiting such
contacts at the federal level, and it would be wise to do this at
the local level, as well.
Ethics laws should be focused not on lobbyists, but on government
officials, because they are the ones who have a fiduciary duty to
the public. Lobbyists, on the other hand, have a First Amendment
right to petition the government. It is the listening, rather than
the speaking, that needs to be regulated.