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States and Municipal Ethics

Robert Wechsler
The role of the city or county attorney in an ethics program continues to be a major bone of contention, despite the fact that government ethics professionals generally take the position that the city or county attorney should not be involved in an ethics program.

The latest locale for this dispute is Jefferson Parish, a suburb of New Orleans with about 430,000 people. According to...
Robert Wechsler
The Boss of the Ethics Director's Bosses
According to an article this week in the Free Times, an FOI lawsuit was filed against South Carolina's ethics commission, because its director had said that a letter informing the governor of an ethics violation had not been sent and had been destroyed, when in fact it was sent and did exist.

Not only...
Robert Wechsler
In 2008, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine established a special task force to take a look at the state's local government ethics program. In September 2010, the task force filed a report that recommended substantial changes to the program (attached; see below). Nothing was done.

The state's local government ethics rules were set to expire in September of this year. The Local Finance Board, which administers the...
Robert Wechsler
A recent Miami Herald article describes a case that embodies a number of important government ethics issues, including the conflict issues that involve local schools of higher education, gifts to officials' relatives and the officials' knowledge of them, an ethics program's jurisdiction over these relatives, and whether government attorneys should provide...
Robert Wechsler
New York State's Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption filed a preliminary report on Monday. Most of the report involves state campaign finance and election laws, but many of these laws affect local government practices, as well. Those involving government ethics criminalize it, and an important recommendation is both too much and too little.

Most of...
Robert Wechsler
The long-running Carrigan case (Carrigan I, that is) may have finally come to an end. And it's a very good end. After the U.S. Supreme Court threw out Carrigan's absurd argument that a council member has a First Amendment free speech right to vote on legislative matters where he is conflicted, the Nevada Supreme Court concluded that, if a council member chooses not to seek ethics advice and votes on a matter involving someone with whom he has a special relationship, he cannot say...