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Ethics Codes

Robert Wechsler
It is important to take state laws into account when drafting ethics provisions, especially in local governments that do not have home rule charters. Here are two situations in the news where this was not done, and ethics reform has been undermined. Dealing with the state laws from the beginning could have made the ethics codes, and the ethics reform process, far better.

Robert Wechsler
I don't write about Jacksonville much, because my colleague at City Ethics, Carla Miller, is the city's ethics officer. She has been working hard to ensure that the city's ethics commission is given more authority and independence, and that the city's ethics laws are improved. This week, the council will be moving closer to approving, or undermining, reforms.

Instead of giving my opinion of what she is seeking, which is basically the same as hers, I will share the recent,...
Robert Wechsler
I've written a little about ethics issues involving quasi-governmental entities and private entities doing government work (oversight, misuse, and personal financial disclosure). But there are...
Robert Wechsler
It's hard to know where to start with a situation in Crescent City, CA, a town of 7,500 in northern California that has already been the subject of a City Ethics blog post.

One of the most striking things about the situation is that it is the first time I have seen an anti-SLAPP-suit defense used successfully against someone who appears to have been found guilty of an ethics violation in order to stop her criticism...
Robert Wechsler
Last August, I wrote a blog post about the mayor of Tulsa accepting free legal services from an attorney who represented Tulsa in certain matters, that is, from a city contractor. The matter involved the council possibly filing charges against the mayor for allegedly lying about a federal police grant.

Due to poor language in the ethics code, and some poor interpretation, what is a fairly...
Robert Wechsler
"The appropriate authority" is a vague phrase to base a major ethics reform proposal on, but that is just what the District of Columbia's draft Comprehensive Ethics Reform Act of 2011 does.

Introduced Tuesday by the council chair, this act is neither comprehensive nor does it create the accountability that the name of the new ethics office, the Office of Government Accountability,...