making local government more ethical

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Public Campaign Financing

Robert Wechsler
Within Election Law Center blogger Christian Adams' recent ad hominem attack on me is an idea that is worth discussing. He said that, in requiring candidate committees to come to me for permission (what is commonly referred to as "ethics advice") when I was the administrator of a public campaign financing program, I was displaying a "joy" and "love" of power...
Robert Wechsler
According to a New Mexico Telegram article, four Albuquerque contractors sued the city's ethics board, claiming that a 2007 charter provision banning contributions from contractors violates their free speech rights.

Here's a link to the contractors' complaint. And...
Robert Wechsler

“The real issue is who’s giving money and real transparency. We’re going to do this in a way that’s above board. We’re each going to be contributing our ethical and moral standards that we have been living our lives by.”

—New Haven mayoral candidate Matthew Nemerson on why he's not going to participate in the New Haven Democracy Fund, one of the few municipal public campaign financing programs in the U.S. He says that instead he will make campaign contributions public within 48...
Robert Wechsler

“You work for the banks, they pay you, and yet you’re supposed to represent the public interest. ... Consultants have a financial incentive to do things to attract repeat business.”

—U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the conflicts of interests of consultants who are paid both by federal bank regulatory agencies and the banks, according to...
Robert Wechsler
Government ethics is a process issue. Process issues appeal more to, and are better understood by, lawyers. Although corruption may be seen as a substance issue, the ways to prevent it are considered procedural. So at election time, most candidates choose not to talk about ethics reform, at least in any detail. When they raise the issue, it is usually to portray themselves as clean and ethical, and sometimes to portray others as corrupt.

This process-substance distinction is rarely...
Robert Wechsler
ProPublica ran an excellent article yesterday by Kim Barker and Al Shaw about campaign, PAC, and Super PAC coordination and self-dealing, primarily at the presidential level. What is so special about the article is that it follows the money to where it is being spent. The authors found that many PAC and Super PAC vendors are the same vendors, or different vendors owned by the...