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Robert Wechsler
Government Executives and the Ethics Commission Selection Process
Should government chief executives appoint ethics commission members or their staff? The common practice is that they usually do. But the common practice is not necessarily the best practice, especially when it puts a conflict of interest at the heart of the conflict of interest process.

This issue has arisen in a very concrete way in Montana, where the governor is faced with appointing a new...
Robert Wechsler
A Failure to Respond to an Ethics Complaint
It's always interesting to see how many ways there are not to deal with ethics complaints. When you think you've seen them all, a new one comes out of nowhere.

In this case, nowhere is Taylor, Michigan, a city of 65,000 outside Detroit. According to an article in the News-Herald on Saturday...
Robert Wechsler
At last week's COGEL conference, I learned about a judicial case involving the Anne Arundel County (MD) Ethics Commission, which has been going on for six years. A decision of the Court of Special Appeals last November is worth a look. There's a lot of interesting material for local government ethics professionals. Two of the issues the case raises are the difference between legal ethics and government ethics,...
Robert Wechsler
Chinese walls, that is, ways to separate an official from a matter as to which he has a conflict, are a perfect way to appear to be responsibly handling a series of possible conflicts, but are these walls great or are they window dressing? And even if the walls truly work, are they enough to deal responsibly with a series of possible conflicts?

I wrote a blog post on Chinese walls...
Robert Wechsler
Investigations of purported ethics violations by the Middlesex County (MA) sheriff apparently led to his suicide on Saturday. According to a Boston Globe chronology, the sheriff filed papers for retirement on October 28, while running for re-election on November 2. His plan was to get a pension and a salary.
Robert Wechsler
Update: December 1, 2010 (see below)

Last week, the Texas Attorney General issued a legal opinion on the role of the county attorney in representing and advising the El Paso County ethics commission, which was established in 2009.

The county attorney herself...