making local government more ethical

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Public Campaign Financing

Robert Wechsler
"You can buy Supreme Court races" under the current system, said Rep. Pedro Colón (D-Milwaukee). "The sign is outside: 'This court is for sale.'" (from an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week)

Nobody wants this to be said, at least nobody but four of the seven Wisconsin Supreme Court justices, according to...
Robert Wechsler
Blago watchers will be interested in the news in today's Chicago Tribune about his former chief of staff and campaign manager pleading guilty and providing detailed testimony about the schemes of Blagojevich and three of his friends to make money off Blago's position, "such as through operating businesses that would get state money or receiving fees from people who did business with the state."...
Robert Wechsler
“Unless you out-and-out stick it in your pocket and walk away, everything’s legal.”
--Spokesman for the New York State Board of Elections

Ethics programs are worthless if the laws are worthless, and if the enforcement bodies are politicized and toothless. Yesterday the New York Times ran a full-length editorial about the need for a culture change in New York's state government. The editorial...
Robert Wechsler
A few local government ethics issues come together in the story behind the arrest today of 44 people in a political corruption and international money laundering ring based in New Jersey. The story is best told, so far, in the press release of the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

Among...
Robert Wechsler
See update below:
An issue that arises in many local governments involves campaign contributions from local government employees, which often appear to be coerced or required, that is, they appear to result from a misuse of office by elected officials. Often, it appears that the giving occurs because employees are concerned about keeping their jobs. This concern includes concern about retaliation as well as concern about what will happen if the candidate loses.

This...
Robert Wechsler
"In my view, the suggestion [by Judge Sotomayor] that [campaign] contributions are tantamount to bribery should offend anyone who’s ever contributed to a political campaign — including the millions of Americans who donated money in small and large amounts to the Presidential campaign of the man who nominated Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court."

Sen. Mitch McConnell (Rep, KY) in a press release...

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