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Legislative Immunity

Robert Wechsler
Update: January 11, 2011 (see below)

According to a July 2 unpublished opinion by Judge Flanagan of the Washoe County (NV) district court, Carrigan v. Commission on Ethics of the State of Nevada (attached; see below), a city council member has a first amendment free speech right to vote where there is not "an actual, existing conflict of interest." (p. 13)

Due process also comes into play in the opinion:  "In the absence of an actual, existing conflict of...
Robert Wechsler
A Poor Approach to Being Ethical
It's great when candidates talk up acting ethically. But it's going too far, and setting a bad precedent, when a candidate takes a lie-detector test in which he says that he never engaged in unethical activities in private- or public-sector work, as reported in the Moultrie (GA) Observer.

Robert Wechsler
On Independence Day weekend, it's worth remembering that independence does not come cheap, and that there are some things that are more important than independence.

One of those things is the public trust. There is a serious cost to our society when government officials place their independence from ethics enforcement above the public trust, that is, when government officials insist on legislative immunity. And there is a cost to officials, too:  their trial not by a neutral body...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in the Providence Journal, a Rhode Island state senator has been indicted on federal charges that he falsified documents to get mortgages and an auto loan worth more than $1.5 million. This same senator sponsored an unsuccessful resolution to let the legislature regulate its own ethics....
Robert Wechsler
Update: June 7, 2010 (see below)

There is some very good news out of Rhode Island, even if it is over a month old. The house majority leader, now the speaker of the house, Gordon Fox, has introduced a bill seeking a referendum in November on a constitutional...
Robert Wechsler
This year, the Rhode Island ethics commission, which has jurisdiction over local governments, has been bouncing around the issue of conflicts of interest relating to local officials' involvement in  negotiations with a union, where they or their spouse is a member of a different local union that shares the same umbrella union and, often, the same negotiators and some of the same funds. The public statements on this issue, from representatives of unions and good government organizations, and the...