making local government more ethical

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Misuse of Office/Special

Robert Wechsler
“If you hold a tiger by the tail, you have a difficult choice to make: Do you let go or not? It’s not a good thing to alienate any legislative leader.”

—Richard Runes, lobbyist for Glenwood Management, a large New York state real estate developer that allegedly gave tax work to a law firm that then made undisclosed payments to the state's Assembly Speaker, who had allegedly recommended the law firm. The quote refers to continuing the use of this law firm, knowing that if it...
Robert Wechsler
Several of the women who accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct toward them have filed defamation suits, based on his conduct and, especially, on the conduct of his attorneys, who not only stated Cosby's denial of sexual misconduct, but also went on the attack against the accusing women.

This situation reminds me of what sometimes happens when government officials are accused of ethical misconduct. They and their attorneys do not stop at denials. They insist that they are the...
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

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
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

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...