making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler

This post looks at the final three essays in Corruption and American Politics, an essay collection edited by Michael A. Genovese and Victoria A. Farrar-Meyers (Cambria, 2011).

Pay to Play in the Municipal Bond Market
In "Influence Peddling and Voter Suppression," Thomas A. Hollihan looks at the municipal bond market, where sweetheart deals have...
Robert Wechsler
A New Use of a Nonprofit as a Conduit
Pay to play appears to be as creative a field as cellphone apps. An article in the Washington Examiner on Sunday points to a new way to get developer money into an official's pockets via a nonprofit organization. A zoning agreement stipulated that the developer would donate $55,000 to the Business Council as...
Robert Wechsler
A big controversy surrounding the race for mayor of Honolulu is focused on the state's pay-to-play culture of the past, and what pay to play actually is. The reason for this is that a former Hawaii governor is running for mayor, and he is being supported by Bob Watada, a former state Campaign Spending Commission executive director who is known for bringing the state's pay-to-play culture to its knees during his 1994-2005 term in office.

According to...
Robert Wechsler
If you read the newspapers and blogs, the big issues in the Chicago Chick-fil-A controversy are free speech and government boycotts. But it's really a government ethics issue.

All rational voices acknowledge that a local legislator should not block a store opening just because it has given large sums to help an unpopular political cause. What they aren't saying is that a local legislator shouldn't be able to block a store opening in his district at all. Zoning matters should not be...
Robert Wechsler
Talk about independent expenditures usually refers to such expenditures in support, or more often in opposition to, federal candidates. At the local level, the major independent expenditures tend to come from unions, both public service unions and construction unions. There are also cases where independent expenditures come from contractors and others seeking direct benefits from the candidates they support or oppose. This can look very much like a payoff for favors done and/or for future...
Robert Wechsler
The situation of Rose Pak, a power broker for San Francisco's Chinese-American community who was featured a week ago in a New York Times article, raises some interesting questions. A paid consultant to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, she has never held public office. Nor has she ever registered as a lobbyist or been an official member of a campaign...