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Family Members/Nepotism

Robert Wechsler
There is usually another side of the coin, and that other side is often ignored in drafting a government ethics code. The other side of the nepotism coin came up recently in an ethics proceeding in Stamford, CT.

According to an article this week in the Stamford Advocate, a former finance board member filed an ethics complaint against a former...
Robert Wechsler
There is a great deal of misunderstanding concerning the difference between a conflict of interest and a gift. It appears that most people consider them two completely different things. In fact, they represent two kinds of conflicts, pre-existing conflicts and conflicts that are created by an event. The confusion between the two characterizes a situation that led to an ethics complaint in Los Angeles.

According to...
Robert Wechsler
This is the third of three posts on how Richard W. Painter's recommendations for federal ethics reform in his book, Getting the Government America Deserves: How Ethics Reform Can Make a Difference (Oxford U.P., 2009), may be applied to local government ethics programs.

Lobbying is not as big a problem for most local governments as it is at...
Robert Wechsler
When I put in the DVD yesterday evening, I did not expect the movie Admission (2013; written by Karen Croner, based on a novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz, starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd) to be a revelatory movie about the mishandling of conflicts of interest situations. But it is. Not in government (it's about a university admissions employee), but the situations are easily applicable.

I can't tell the whole...
Robert Wechsler
There are two ways to write a nepotism provision. One is to have a short, straightforward prohibition, and allow requests for a waiver under special circumstances. The most frequent circumstance would be a small town or school system where there are not a lot of prospective employees to choose from.

The other way is the one chosen by Louisiana:  three pages of exceptions from the general rule (attached; see below).

There are two ways to define "family" in terms of a...
Robert Wechsler
Yesterday, Oregon's Statesman Journal reported an interesting case that involves a number of important government ethics issues.

The state's Department of Corrections (DOC) deputy director allegedly used his position to influence an Oregon Corrections Enterprises (OCE) administrator into hiring his son and later giving him a higher salary and...