making local government more ethical

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Recusal/Withdrawal

Robert Wechsler
Sometimes Withdrawal and Formal Processes Are Not Enough
It never looks good when a high-level elected official gets a job with the government while in office or soon after leaving office. It looks like he got the job because of his influence and relationships with those who made the decision.

According to an article in the Observer-Reporter, the North...
Robert Wechsler
When a lawyer decides to represent a private client, she does not give up her right to vote or petition governments on her own behalf. But what about when a lawyer decides to represent a public client, especially as a lobbyist? Does such a lawyer give up her right to vote on issues relating to the city government (assuming she sits on another government's board) or petition a government on behalf of her own beliefs?

These questions arise from a case in Cincinnati, where a city...
Robert Wechsler
In a New York Times column today, Michael Powell has unearthed an ugly-looking government ethics situation in New Jersey involving apparent misuse of government ethics authority to win a vote.

The fact situation is fairly typical. What is not typical is the way it has been handled. A gas company is seeking permission to put a...
Robert Wechsler
According to a recent Reader Supported News article, ethics allegations have been made in Montpelier regarding two high-level officials. Both allegations are worthy of a closer look.

According to the article, the mayor of Montpelier, the state capital, is a lawyer with a firm that represents two major national banks. The city's director of...
Robert Wechsler
The Boss of the Ethics Director's Bosses
According to an article this week in the Free Times, an FOI lawsuit was filed against South Carolina's ethics commission, because its director had said that a letter informing the governor of an ethics violation had not been sent and had been destroyed, when in fact it was sent and did exist.

Not only...
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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