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Ethics Commissions/Administration

Robert Wechsler
In many jurisdictions, lawyers have sought to be excluded from ethics program jurisdiction, arguing that their conduct is regulated by their state's attorney disciplinary process. Recently, in Louisiana, other professionals have sought to be excluded from the state ethics program's jurisdiction (which includes local officials) pursuant to a different argument.

The issue is, When do employees of a private company become government employees for purposes of ethics program...
Robert Wechsler
It is unethical for a local official to violate a law, especially the city or county charter. But such a violation is usually not a government ethics violation, because it has nothing to do with conflicts of interest. It may be a misuse of office, but it is not a misuse of office to benefit oneself, one's family, or one's business associates.

And yet some ethics codes contain a provision making a legal or charter violation an ethics violation. Here is one from Forest Park, GA, a...
Robert Wechsler
Who Should Oversee Nepotism Rules?
According to an article in the Stamford (CT) Advocate last week, Stamford's Board of Representatives voted to amend an anti-nepotism bill to instead require the city's human resources director to draft a nepotism policy. The sponsor of the amendment was quoted as saying, "A one-size-fits-all approach is not...
Robert Wechsler
An investigative article in Sunday's Albany Times-Union looks at the local government ethics programs in 78 local governments in four New York counties. What it found is sadly typical in most states.

What it found was that at least 30 of the governments had not updated their ethics laws since the early 1970s, when government ethics was in its infancy. Almost...
Robert Wechsler
Some good news from California, which takes an odd, hybrid approach to local government ethics. It has a state ethics commission (the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC)) that has limited authority over local officials in the areas of conflicts of interest and campaign finance. And the state has many local government ethics programs, which are all over the place in terms of quality and areas over which they have authority.

The first piece of good news is that the FPPC has...
Robert Wechsler
The Miami-Dade County ethics commission has been a leader in reaching out to the community. In 2011, it co-sponsored a local government ethics conference, which attracted people from all over Florida. In 2012, it organized the first Ethical Governance Day, according to an...