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States and Municipal Ethics

Robert Wechsler
A settlement in a Massachusetts ethics proceeding can be used as an educational opportunity in several ways.

According to a February 28 press release from the Massachusetts Ethics Commission, which has jurisdiction over local...
Robert Wechsler
I begin the "Intent" section of my book Local Government Ethics Programs by noting that, "One of the distinguishing aspects of government ethics is the fact that it does not deal with or require a showing of intent, willfulness, knowledge, or motive."

The next sentence is, "This is yet another reason why the criminal enforcement paradigm is not a very good fit for government ethics."

I raise...
Robert Wechsler
Some very interesting issues arise out of a past (and present) conflict situation that has become an issue in this week's mayoral primary in the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, KS ("UG").

The conflict situation appears simple at first glance, but it is not. In 2007, a UG commissioner became the paid executive director of the Argentine Neighborhood Development Association ("ANDA"), a nonprofit Community...
Robert Wechsler

New Jersey has one of the oddest approaches to local government ethics. Like several states,  including Massachusetts, California, and Florida, a state ethics program has jurisdiction over local officials. But unlike other states, the state ethics program is not run by the state ethics commission. It is run by the Department of Community Affairs.

Robert Wechsler
The FBI had to work hard for years to get a grand jury indictment of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin yesterday (a searchable PDF of the indictment is attached; see below).

A lot of what occurred could have been stopped a long time ago if the city and state had better ethics laws and the city's ethics board was able to initiate complaints and hold public hearings on ethics issues that came to its attention. It appears that every time I read the indictment of a mayor or council...
Robert Wechsler
It's been six years since I last wrote about local government ethics in Tennessee. In a January 2007 comment to the forum on recusal, I focused on the fact that the University of Tennessee's Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) (which operates in cooperation with the Tennessee Municipal League) had prepared...