making local government more ethical

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Post-Employment/Revolving Door

Robert Wechsler
Richard W. Painter's Getting the Government America Deserves: How Ethics Reform Can Make a Difference (Oxford U.P., 2009) may be about the federal executive branch ethics program, but this excellent book also has a lot to offer to local government ethics. This is the first of three blog posts about this book, focusing on Painter's recommendations for ethics reform and how...
Robert Wechsler
One kind of revolving door that is often ignored is the move from elected or appointed board or commission membership and a paid position that is approved by and under the direction of the same board or commission. It makes it look as if the board member were using her position to get herself a nice job, and exclude others. It also puts the board members in the conflicted position of overseeing a former colleague, who might very well be seen to have made a deal with them that would give them...
Robert Wechsler
When it comes to conflicts of interest, is a local government attorney primarily an attorney or a local government official? I would answer this question, "Definitely an official." But recently the New Jersey Supreme Court answered this question, "Definitely an attorney." In fact, had the attorney been an administrator, the opinion suggests, the court's decision would have been different.

The opinion focuses on the standard for determining whether the decision of a local government...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in yesterday's New York Times, U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid's spokesman said with respect to questions regarding his hiring of a tax adviser away from General Electric, "The impulse in some quarters to reflexively cast suspicion on private sector experience is part of what makes qualified individuals reluctant to enter public...
Robert Wechsler
It is important to bring contractors into an ethics program, requiring them to disclose gifts their employees make to officials, and to deal responsibly with possible conflicts they are aware of. Businesses tend to deal with such things internally. Bringing them into an ethics program requires them to recognize that dealing with conflict situations internally is not enough.

The fact is that most ethics programs do not place sufficient requirements on contractors. Often, ethics...
Robert Wechsler
An interesting case in Iowa raises questions about the purposes behind post-employment, or "revolving door," provisions, including whom they are supposed to protect and why.

According to an Associated Press article yesterday, a former chief of staff and general counsel to Iowa's then governor is representing Muscatine, IA...