making local government more ethical

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Complaints/ Investigations/Hearings

Robert Wechsler
Can the government ethics enforcement community learn anything from a successful experiment in the crime enforcement field? With tongue only partly in cheek, I will try to show ways in which the government ethics enforcement community could learn a thing or two.

This week's New York Times Magazine ran an excellent piece by Jeffrey Rosen on a...
Robert Wechsler
Baltimore Mayor Resigns
Baltimore's mayor resigned on Wednesday, fortunately after being convicted of the crime of embezzlement (albeit for $500 in gift cards) rather than the ethics violation (not yet tried) of failing to include gifts on her financial disclosure statement (see Baltimore Sun article).

Robert Wechsler
In a recent blog post, I listed the suits filed by Maricopa County's sheriff Joe Arpaio and county attorney Andrew Thomas against other county officials during the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws conference right in the heart of Maricopa County.

Well, it got worse. On the last day of the conference, according to...
Robert Wechsler
Here's a tough call. It's a few weeks before a primary election, and you (a local ethics commission member or staff member) learn that a candidate has violated an ethics code provision, and hidden it via a false disclosure. Do you act or do you sit on your hands until after the election?

Often this sort of problem arises when a complaint is filed by an opposing candidate or party member, that is, when the filing is politically motivated. But what should an EC do when there is no...
Robert Wechsler
Ethics reform aimed at political opponents is a good way to undermine the whole idea of ethics reform. This is what is happening in San Jose.

San Jose starts off with an odd ethics program. Title 12: Ethics Provisions does not even have a conflict of interest provision, nor does the city have an ethics commission. It is primarily a campaign finance and lobbying law, with a gift...
Robert Wechsler
The relationship between San Diego's council and ethics commission continues to prove unhealthy. It shows how wrong it is for elected officials to appoint and control the body that oversees their conduct.