Public Sector Roundtable Ethics Hot Spots, Nov. 2009
Use of Electronic Communication in Campaigns
Gifts and Employees
- If "ads" run on YouTube how can the public know who paid
for the ad?
- Should electronic campaigning - video, email, blogging -
be subject to the same disclosure rules as other campaign
expenditures? How could this be accomplished?
- Is a YouTube posting considered advertising?
- How will the move toward use of electronic communication
and social media impact the truth and integrity we wish to
see in campaigns?
- Will the potentially anonymous nature of social media add
to the current concerns about third-party expenditures?
- Should there be a different standard for acceptance and
disclosure of gifts for elected, appointed, and hired public
servants? If so, why?
- If there is a "double standard" -- $10 limit for employees
but a $50 limit for elected officials, does this pass a legal
test? How does it look to the public?
- The FPPC is now requiring even more limits on donations
and disclosure. How can that trend be reconciled with the
recent ruling (Citizens United versus the Federal Elections
Commission) that seems to open the flow of corporate money
into campaigns and to candidates?
How much responsibility should we attach to having the names
of public officials on letterheads, invitations, and the like
from nonprofit organizations? Does this practice encourage influence-peddling,
or the perception of quid pro quo?
If romantic relationships are not permitted in the workplace,
how do we address those relationships when they occur between
an elected official and a city commissioner?
- If a former councilmember or mayor votes on development
issues, then volunteers in the planning department on related
issues, is there a real or perceived conflict of interest?
- Should volunteers be required to disclose finances and
conflicts in the same way that public officials (including
commissioners) are required to do?
- Would it matter if that person volunteered in a department
other than planning?
How can we move the media coverage and public debate from
the trivial and often very personal matters so that we can discuss
When and how do we decide to end a lengthy and expensive legal
battle when the cost of litigation exceeds the original claim?
- Is there a difference if the couple is married or cohabitating?
How can elected officials maintain close friendships with
individuals they have known long before entering office without
bringing up questions of favoritism and the like?
Outrageous behavior by elected officials often seems to come from a sense of entitlement. What can be done to correct the system so that we don't create or encourage this feeling of entitlement? Can we treat elected officials differently so they do not feel "privileged"?
- Can you still fight waste, fraud, and unethical, illegal
behavior if you settle rather than litigate these types of
- What is a government agency's responsibility to deal with
tainted vendor? How far should a public agency go to expose
that corrupt contractor or vendor?