making local government more ethical

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Pay-to-Play

Robert Wechsler
Here's a good way to get around local government transparency laws. If you want an appointee's activities to remain secret, let him be hired by a private entity, give money to the private entity sufficient to pay his salary, and don't communicate with him via government-owned computers or smartphones.

You might think that this would only occur with relatively obscure individuals and entities, aides who can do dirty work that an agency wants to keep hush-hush, hired by a social...
Robert Wechsler
According to Wikipedia, a Grand Unified Theory (GUT) is "a model in particle physics in which at high energy, the three gauge interactions of the Standard Model which define the electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions, are merged into one single interaction."

It appears that the case of Michael Quinn Sullivan and his trio of...
Robert Wechsler
Can anyone volunteer for a local political campaign without it being considered a contribution? Isn't it everyone's right to do so? Isn't this just about the most important thing a citizen can do, short of running for office herself?

According to the Toronto Metro News website last week, a "political strategist" and lobbyist who was...
Robert Wechsler
Recently, the hiring of lobbyists to represent cities before state and federal governments and agencies has become controversial. Some people think this is an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds. I don't agree. However, the hiring of external lobbyists (as opposed to government officials who do the lobbying themselves) does raise some government ethics issues, because it adds to the mix highly politicized contractors.

This problem is exacerbated when there are laws limiting or...
Robert Wechsler
UC at Irvine Law School professor Richard Hasen's essay, "Lobbying, Rent-Seeking, and the Constitution," 64 Stanford Law Review 191 (2011), is a good complement to the Teachout essay I recently wrote about. Besides its valuable look at the idea that lobbying should be regulated because...
Robert Wechsler
It was pointed out to me by Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, that back in 2000 John Copeland Nagle, a professor at Notre Dame Law School, wrote a law review article suggesting what I call the Westminster Approach to campaign contributions from those seeking benefits from the recipient official's government. The article, which focuses on Congress, is entitled "The Recusal Alternative...

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