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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Does Ethics Matter in an Election?

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 29, 2020—Amidst increasing levels of distress over eroding ethics and civil discourse in politics, a new resource, “Voting for Ethics,from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics aims to be a guidepost. The non-partisan, how-to guide is designed to help the U.S. voting public identify the hallmarks of an ethical candidate, spot dirty tricks and unethical fundraising practices, and evaluate campaign promises before casting votes—be it for a local school board member or the president of the United States.

Upon taking office, every public servant, elected or appointed, enters into a covenant with the people: that the officeholder will not use her or his position for personal gain,” said John Pelissero, senior scholar with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and professor emeritus of political science at Loyola University Chicago. “A basic grasp of right and wrong coupled with a firm commitment to the public interest can help keep public officials on the right track.”

“’Voting for Ethics’ will become the standard for ethical political practice for years to come,” said Tom Campbell, former five-term congressman from Silicon Valley. “Candidates will be asked to subscribe to the principles announced in the book, because they are clear, practical, and powerful guides to stay on the right side of ethical behavior.”

Note to Media

Pelissero is available to provide commentary to members of the media on issues related to ethics in politics and the upcoming election and related debates. The guide is available for free download at

About the Author

Hana Callaghan was the director of the Center’s Government Ethics Program. Sadly she passed away in January of 2020 just after completing “Voting for Ethics.” She had a background in law, government, and politics. She worked in private practice as a corporate litigator, for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives as a senior congressional aide, and as a political consultant managing statewide political campaigns.

About the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Founded in 1986 with a seed grant and initial endowment from Linda and A.C. “Mike” Markkula Jr., the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University brings the traditions of ethical thinking to bear on real world problems. Beyond a full range of programs for the SCU community, the Center also serves professionals in fields from business to health care, from government to the social sector, providing innovative approaches to problems from fake news to privacy protection. Through its website and international collaborations, the Center brings ethical decision-making resources to a global audience. For more information:

Media Contact

Joel Dibble | Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University | 408-554-5116 |


Sep 29, 2020