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Her Honor

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, looks at ethical dilemmas, scandals, and best practices in government.

The following postings have been filtered by tag revolving door regulations. clear filter
  •  Tough Choices: Public Service Or Private Employment?

    Tuesday, Apr. 19, 2011

    What would you choose: serving on the city council for $6,400 or working as a consultant for a major architectural firm? This is the decision that faces George McGoldrick, a councilmember in Meriden, Connecticut.

    The Board of Ethics advised McGoldrick he “could pursue the work, but would need to abstain from related City Council votes and refrain from appearing on the firm’s behalf before any city agencies, boards, or commissions.”

    The problem lies in the description of his new job description. As a consulting architect he would be required to act as a liaison to public officials in Meriden. This conflict may prompt him to resign from the council.

    But resigning may not solve the problem: the city ethics code prohibits former public employees and officials who are compensated for their work from appearing “for compensation before any City board or agency by which he was formerly employed, or which he provided service to, or was a member of, at any time within a period of one year after termination of his service with the City.”

    McGoldrick has yet to make a decision, but one of his council colleagues offered this perspective. “If this was me, and a choice between paying my mortgage, my insurance and my livelihood meant that I might not be able to serve on the City Council because of those things, I would have to make sure my mortgage, my wife, my home was taken care of.”

    Have you faced this dilemma? Do you know anyone who has had to choose between public service and a job in the private sector? What should McGoldrick do?

  •  Revolving Door For Public Officials Should Be Shut

    Friday, Apr. 15, 2011

    In government, “revolving door” and conflict of interest are almost always synonymous. And both present legal and ethical dilemmas for public servants.

    A special investigation in the city of Port Angeles, Washington, has revealed that although city councilmembers who leave office and then work for city contractors may not be violating the law, they may be damaging public trust.

    A report released by the state auditor shows former mayor Karen Rogers violated state law when she failed to disclose business relationships and did not recuse herself in voting on issues related to those ties. However, she did not violate any laws by working for a city contractor upon leaving office.

    While the focus of the report is about Rogers, at least one councilmember is calling for a city resolution that could “legally prevent those who serve on the council from working for companies that do business with the city for certain period of time after they leave office.” Councilmember Max Mania said “the city could go a long way in gaining public trust by making it tougher for councilmembers to cross between these two worlds.”

    In addition to drafting a resolution, the city staff will also consider holding more training sessions on state conflict of interest laws.

  •  Trading On Insider Knowledge?

    Monday, Oct. 25, 2010

    Is enforcement of government ethics on the federal level more lax than on other levels of government?

    Maybe, if you are with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  A former manager with the New Mexico BLM office recently left to take a job with the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.

    The shift in jobs was given the okay by federal government ethics officials, even though the employee had been responsible for overseeing 1.8 milllion acres of public land in New Mexico.

    A federal watchdog group, the nonpartisan Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has asked BLM director Bob Abby to look into this apparent "revolving door" employment.

    The conflict is significant, according to POGO, because as a former federal regulator, he would be able to "trade on his insider knowledge and contacts in his new role advocating for the industry."

    Despite an earlier ruling, the ethics agency has decided to take a second look, in part because documents uncovered by POGO show the employee used his government computer in applying for the job.

    It's easy to get inundated with paperwork in a bureaucracy like the Department of the Interior, but that is no excuse for allowing lapses in the area of ethics.

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