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States and Municipal Ethics

A new Sunshine Law suit in Florida...
DonMc

From the Miami Herald blog: Newspapers, advocates sue the governor and Cabinet for sunshine violation The Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, the Associated Press, a Tampa lawyer and a coalition of sunshine advocates filed a lawsuit late Tuesday alleging that Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet violated the state's open meeting laws when the governor unilaterally decided to "force the resignation" of former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Chief Gerald Bailey and they consented.

Robert Wechsler
According to an editorial in the Orange County (CA) Register this week, Orange County citizens will soon vote on an initiative that would make their county the second one to turn its campaign finance program over to the state's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). But the initiative's wording calls the FPPC "the ethics commission," which causes confusion, because many in the county...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle last week, Oakland's council approved an amendment to the city charter, to go before voters in November, that would increase the authority of the city's ethics commission and...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article last week in the Washington Post, the Fairfax County (VA) Attorney fired one of his office's assistant attorneys because she was elected to the council of a city within the county, even though he and his deputy who deals with personnel matters had given her permission to run for office. In a letter sent after...
Robert Wechsler
Many people believe that conflicts of interest are limited to situations where money is involved. When these people write ethics laws, as they often do, the law effectively says that where money isn't involved, any conduct is acceptable.

For example, Pennsylvania's ethics code, which applies to local officials, defines "conflict of interest" as follows (emphasis added):
Use by a public official or public employee of the authority of his office or employment or any...
Robert Wechsler
Rhode Island's lawmakers really know how to protect themselves. They have fought hard and long to effectively preserve their immunity from state ethics commission jurisdiction. However, with pressure on them to recommend to their constituents a constitutional amendment that would give the EC jurisdiction over them, despite the state's Speech in (sic) Debate Clause, they have planted a bomb in their proposed amendment that will ensure that even the state's good government organizations...

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