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Mixing Politics and Policy In Campaigns

Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2011

As campaign season heats up, the number of ethical dilemmas for candidates, staff, and volunteers also increases. Here is one based on an interview I had recently with a reporter. It points out the challenges of being both a candidate and an officeholder.

Texas Representative Michael McCaul’s chief of staff Greg Hill has also been working for his boss on the campaign. He has not taken a leave of absence during the campaign, leading to the question: How can you be working for the officeholder and paid by the public while you are simultaneously being paid by the candidate as a campaign staff member?

There are several scenarios that raise a red flag here:

• How can an employee campaign while on government property and presumably using public resources?

• When advising the representative on legislative matters, is the chief of staff (COS) making that recommendation because it is good policy or because it will benefit the campaign?

• Are lobbyists more likely to get access to the officeholder if the COS knows it could lead to a campaign contribution?

• How can you separate the two jobs – and which one might suffer because of this arrangement?

Do you see any other problems that might occur in this scenario, or does it seem okay to you?

Post your comments, and they will help add to our debate over campaign ethics.

Tags: campaigns, elections, Texas

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