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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Campaign Ethics: A Field Guide

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Although public service is a noble calling, the process of getting there is not always so noble.

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.

Campaign Ethics: A Field Guide offers pragmatic advice for candidates looking to avoid any ethical problems in their campaigns,” said Tom Campbell, former five-term Congressman from Silicon Valley. “Campaigns that don't follow the book’s clear advice will be asked by editorial boards and voters why they haven't.”

As we all know, politics can be an ugly, nasty business. Pretty much everyone who runs for public office believes that he or she is ethical, however in the heat of the battle it is easy to have ethical lapses encouraged by such rationalizations as, “If I don’t win, I won’t be able to do all of the good things that I have planned for my community” or, “That other guy is bad news and if he wins the community will suffer.”  In other words, we argue, the ends justify the means.


About the Author


Hana Callaghan

Hana Callaghan served as director of the Government Ethics Program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. She was an attorney who worked in government and managed state wide political campaigns. Located in the Silicon Valley, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics brings the traditions of ethical thinking to bear on real world problems. Beyond a full range of events, grants, and fellowships for the Santa Clara University 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 also brings ethical decision making resources to the wider world. For more information please go to

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