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Conflict of Interest

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ncsl magazine

Blind Trusts

Some states allow legislators to insulate themselves from apparent conflicts of interest by putting assets into blind trusts. Critics, however, claim these trusts don't always work as intended. This magazine story asks: When should a legislator use a blind trust?

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ethics conflict of interest

Overview

When people enter public life, they bring their personal interests and experiences with them. Sometimes, those interests can create apparent ethical dilemmas by conflicting with legislative responsibilities. Each state may define conflicts differently, provide different kinds of prohibitions and allow for different exceptions to those prohibitions. The Center for Ethics maintains resources on revolving door prohibitions, nepotism, dual office-holding, dual public employment, blind trusts, representing others before government, recusal requirements, and contracting with the state, in addition to publications on dual-employment and blind trusts.

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ETHICS

Conflict of Interest

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nepotism

Nepotism

Nepotism is the "bestowal of patronage by public officers in appointing others to positions by reason of blood or marital relationship." Nearly half the states restrict nepotism to varying degrees, and all states have laws prohibiting the practice or offering conflict of interest guidelines.

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revolving door

Revolving Door

Over half of the states have enacted a “cooling-off period” before a former legislator can return to the legislature as a lobbyist. Also knows as revolving door laws, statutes range from a ban is until the conclusion of the next regular session to two years.

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ethics

Dual Office Holding

Dual office holding refers to a legislator holding more than one elected or appointed position and includes statewide offices as well as county and municipal offices. Search by state for constitutional and statutory references regarding a legislator's ability to simultaneously hold two public offices.

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