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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Government Ethics

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics explores Government Ethics issues including campaign ethics, conflicts of interest, gifts to officials, transparency, budgeting, and other topics.

What Is Government Ethics?

by John Pelissero, Senior Scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University and a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago

"On taking office, every public servant, elected or appointed, enters into a covenant with the people: that as a public official they will seek to promote the public interest in all political processes and ensure that policy adoption and service provision occur without favoritism or discrimination. Moreover, a public official must not use her or his position for personal gain and should avoid even the appearance of having a conflict of interest. An ethical awareness of the obligation to act in the public interest will normally promote fairness and justice, and advance the common good."

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Commentary on Government Ethics

Ethically speaking, immigrants who have credible fears of persecution or torture should have a right to a bond hearing in front of an immigration judge and should not be indefinitely detained.

Soldier standing in front of a flag

Many military personnel and their family members are declining to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and this raises important ethical issues for our national security and the public health of communities.

President Biden's inaugural speech urging the nation to put aside personal interests and find unity in the common good.

Bill Plante, Anita Kumar, Dee Dee Myers, and Subbu Vincent participate in a virtual webinar.

What can past coverage and recent experiences teach us about envisioning a better future for how journalists cover the president?

    Code of Ethics Guidelines

    Writing a code of ethics? View samples curated from professional associations and state and local governments.

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    Government Ethics Resources

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    Browse our commentaries on civic virtue, campaign ethics, lobbying, and current events.


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    Click here to Review Cases

    Dive deep into real-life conflicts of interest, whistleblowing, gifts and bribes, and cronyism.


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    Click here to View Videos

    Hear what our staff and fellows are saying about voting, public trust, transparency, and more.


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    Voting for Ethics: A Guide for U.S. Voters

    “Voting for Ethics” is a non-partisan, how-to guide for U.S. voters. It will help you identify the hallmarks of an ethical candidate and make a more informed decision -- whether for your local school board or a national election.

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    Campaign Ethics: A Field Guide

    This guidebook is designed to help those managing or engaging in political campaigns do so in an ethical manner. It also serves as a valuable resource to voters, helping them identify the hallmarks of an ethical campaign.

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    Recent Media Mentions

    John Pelissero, senior scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, quoted by The Boston Globe.

    John Pelissero, senior scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University and professor emeritus of political science at Loyola University Chicago quoted on San Jose Spotlight.

    John Pelissero, senior scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University and professor emeritus of political science at Loyola University Chicago quoted on San Jose Spotlight.

    John Pelissero, senior scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University and professor emeritus of political science at Loyola University Chicago quoted in Newsweek.