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All stories and pages related to the Model Code Project

Robert Wechsler
I was reminded today that Sen. Arlen Specter, who recently switched from the Republican party to the Democratic party, voted against Elena Kagan's appointment as solicitor-general. He now appears likely to support her appointment to the Supreme Court. This raised the issue in my mind:  is it ever right for an elected official to vote on an appointment on purely partisan grounds?

Not surprisingly, the same issue arose this week at the local level, in North Greenbush, New York, a town...
Robert Wechsler
In my most recent blog post, I pointed out how vague the concept of an "interest" is for most people. I would like to discuss this problem further, because I think it is the cause of much misunderstanding, as well as weaknesses in ethics code drafting.

Ethics codes are essentially conflict of interest codes. But the idea of an "interest," not to mention how they conflict, is not very concrete and,...
Robert Wechsler
What do you do when an official discriminates against you by sicking a local government inspector on you? This question was raised by David Owens in a post on the NC Local Government Law Blog.

Owens' answer is that (at least in North Carolina), unless you can show evidence of a pattern of conscious discrimination done with “an evil eye and an unequal hand" (this language is from the U.S...
Robert Wechsler
The tendency of local government ethics codes to limit conflicts to financial interests is one of my pet peeves. A current matter in Tacoma shows the downside of this limited definition of interests that can conflict.

According to a recent article in the News-Tribune, a council member worked on the final conceptual drawings submitted to...
Robert Wechsler
The perceived independence of an ethics commission is extremely important. This perceived independence has become an issue in Frankfort (KY), according to an article in Tuesday's State-Journal.

The usual way EC members are selected compromises the perception of their independence. There are two aspects to this problem. One is who selects EC members. In most local governments, it is the mayor,...
Robert Wechsler
I've been meaning for a long time to take a long second look at the City Ethics Model Code provision on the revolving door that many officials walk through between government and firms that do business with government. It's a complex matter, and local governments as well as states with jurisdiction...