making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
I recently wrote a blog post about a false statements in elections law in Ohio, and the problems with enforcing such laws. I have often written about the problems with self-enforcement of ethics laws. In the Wisconsin case of a state supreme court justice's misrepresentations in an election ad, the two have come together, big-time. The result is far more injurious, even crippling, to public trust in the...
Robert Wechsler
A situation in the city of Alameda, CA once again points out that government officials dealing with the possibly unethical conduct of other government officials is not a good thing.

According to an article today in the San Francisco Chronicle, the city of Alameda asked the city's outside counsel to investigate whether a council member had disclosed confidential...
Robert Wechsler
When it comes to government ethics, too often lawyers are nowhere to be seen, unless they are the ones saying that unethical conduct is legal. Far too often, lawyers do not use their knowledge, their strong, independent personalities, and their professional obligations to stand up to, or at least question, those acting unethically.

A horrible example of this, a cautionary tale that every law student should read in the first year, occurred when all the lawyers in the system (and...
Robert Wechsler
Time Limitations on Ethics Proceedings in Louisiana, and Why They're Bad
The Louisiana ethics board handles ethics, disclosure, campaign finance, and lobbying for the state and for the state's local governments. It is, like all ethics agencies, understaffed, underfunded, and overstretched. So according to an article in Monday's Baton Rouge ...
Robert Wechsler
The confidentiality, or transparency, of local government ethics complaints and proceedings is a funny topic. Most of the time, government officials want as much confidentiality as possible. They don't want ethical issues concerning them to be mentioned in public.

But there are times when they want to be able to blast those who file complaints against them, and then they favor transparency. In other words, which side they're on does not involve policy, but their self-interest. It's...
Robert Wechsler
While I was away on vacation, the new, quasi-independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) was in the news a lot.

Going Outside of Congress
First, it did something that made it appear more than the paper tiger I called it a year ago. According to a New York Times editorial last week, when the OCE's investigation of contributions to...