making local government more ethical

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Nonprofits/Charities

Robert Wechsler
It's been almost two years since the New York Times broke the story on the abuses of New York City council earmarks slush fund, which totaled about $50 million a year. This week, the council member featured in the Times article was expelled from the state senate for a violent act committed against his female companion, according to...
Robert Wechsler
End runs around ethics and campaign finance laws are one of my favorite topics to write about. A sizeable percentage of the creative energies of government officials and their attorneys seems to go into coming up with ways of getting around these laws. And then arguing that such laws are of little value since you can't plug loopholes as fast as they can invent them.

The Center for Governmental Studies in California has just...
Robert Wechsler
Ethics reform aimed at political opponents is a good way to undermine the whole idea of ethics reform. This is what is happening in San Jose.

San Jose starts off with an odd ethics program. Title 12: Ethics Provisions does not even have a conflict of interest provision, nor does the city have an ethics commission. It is primarily a campaign finance and lobbying law, with a gift...
Robert Wechsler
An interesting disagreement has arisen over what is required for a contract with a council member to constitute a conflict of interest in California. According to an article in the Valley Chronicle, the city of Hemet and the League of California Cities disagree with a grand jury about whether a particular council member has a conflict. The council member is the executive director, and...
Robert Wechsler

Update: November 11, 2009 (see below)

Is there any worse way to skirt government ethics rules and misuse public money and position than via a charitable organization? And yet it happens again and again. This time it happened in Baltimore, according to the results of an extensive investigation by the Baltimore Sun.

The...
Robert Wechsler
Once again, a local government official's attempt to use a charity to get around campaign finance laws has blown up in his face. According to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, an Atlanta council member was fined $25,000 by a state court for failing to register a foundation (named after himself) and failing to maintain financial records for it.

The...

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