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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.

Tags: conflicts of interests, public trust, revolving door regulations

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