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Misuse of Office/Special

Robert Wechsler
A conflict situation in my state of Connecticut is instructive regarding a basic concept of government ethics, as well as a basic concept of legislative immunity.

Legislators insist that they require immunity because their motives in making decisions cannot be questioned outside their body. Government ethics, on the other hand, does not consider motive, only conduct and relationships. This is one of the principal reasons why I argue that legislative immunity does not protect...
Robert Wechsler
As we know, the devil's in the details. In government ethics codes, this means the language. In the case I will look at here, the devil's in the verbs.

According to an article on the WTSP-TV website last week, a Florida state senator who lobbies for a sports team seeking taxpayer subsidies relating to payments on its sports arena...
Robert Wechsler
Here's an interesting conflict situation from Louisiana that involves a good intra-governmental revolving door provision and unforeseen circumstances. According to an article today in the Advocate, the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board made the wise decision to ask the state ethics board, which has jurisdiction over local officials, whether it could hire the city's...
Robert Wechsler
On Monday, Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel wrote an excellent analysis of the lobbying elements of Florida Senate bill 846 (a copy of the bill is attached; see below), which was recently passed by the senate unanimously.

The law would prohibit local officials from registering as a lobbyist of state legislators or agencies, except on behalf of...
Robert Wechsler
Here's a good-news story from Delray Beach, FL. But first the bad news. According to an op-ed by Rhonda Swan this week in the Sun-Sentinel, in 2012 the Palm Beach County inspector general "warned Delray that extending its contract with Waste Management until 2021 without seeking bids would violate state and city rules that require...
Robert Wechsler
"The deep problem with the system was a kind of moral inertia. So long as it served the narrow self-interests of everyone inside it, no one on the inside would ever seek to change it, no matter how corrupt or sinister it became — though even to use words like 'corrupt' or 'sinister' made serious people uncomfortable, so Katsuyama avoided them. Maybe his biggest concern, when he spoke to city residents, was that he be seen as just another nut with a conspiracy theory."

This seems...