Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

When Official Roles Conflict

Local officials are often active in many organizations: They may serve on the board of a non-profit promoting affordable housing, raise money for an arts organization, or belong to the PTA. They may also simultaneously hold positions at various levels of government—on a city council and a regional transit authority or state task force, for example. We want our public officials to care about the needs of their communities and regions.

But sometimes these roles can conflict. When the affordable housing non-profit has business before the city, should the member who serves on the board recuse herself? When the regional transit authority must decide an issue, is the mayor representing his city's best interests or the best interests of the entire region?

Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler wrote or co-wrote this series of cases describing situations when official roles conflict. The cases are supported by a grant from LifeScan, a Johnson & Johnson company.

Whom Do I Represent? Local and Regional Public Service

Serving the Greater Good: A Conflict Between Local and State Responsibilities


When Doing Good May Be Doing Wrong


Successfully Serving as a City Council Member and a Non-profit Board Member


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