Ethics in the News 2019

12/6/2019

ETHICSEthics in the News is a monthly summary of ethics and lobbying-related articles published in 2019, compiled by NCSL's Center for Ethics in Government.

Note: The links to these articles are provided for information purposes only. NCSL does not endorse any views these news stories provide. Links more than two weeks old may no longer be active. If you are interested in reading an article whose link is inactive, please contact the newspaper in which the story was published.

 

December

Illinois - Lobbyists will have to disclose additional information to the public under a measure Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law Wednesday. View story.

New Hampshire - New Hampshire lawmakers may be facing more stringent ethics guidelines going forward after a recent ruling by the Legislative Ethics Committee. View story.

 Guam - The Guam Ethics Commission is still in the process of obtaining funding, and if everything goes as planned, the commission might start receiving complaints by August 2020. Despite a nearly two-decade-old law re-establishing the commission, this is the first time the group has been constituted. View story. 

South Africa - Leaders in the public and private sector, as well as in many other institutions, have influence by virtue of their greater authority and power. They have access to resources by virtue of their office. This elevated position means leaders are role models for others in society. In this capacity, they teach others what is acceptable and desirable through their actions. View story.

November

Federal - Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., announced her resignation Sunday after a string of reports shining a negative light on her personal life, including a reported affair with her legislative director that sparked a House Ethics Committee investigation. View story.

October

North Dakota - North Dakota lawmakers and employees of the Legislative Council are remembering former Director John Olsrud for his nonpartisan, ethical approach in decades of serving the Legislature. View story.

September

National - The Coalition for Integrity released its Enforcement of Ethics Rules by State Agencies: Unpacking the S.W.A.M.P. Index report last Thursday. View story.

North Dakota - North Dakota’s new Ethics Commission is working out how far its authority extends and determining the rules that will guide its actions and decision-making.  View story.

August

North Dakota - North Dakota's new Ethics Commission will meet for the first time next month in Bismarck. The five-person panel will meet beginning at 1 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Russell Reid Auditorium of the North Dakota Heritage Center, with the meeting continuing at 10 a.m. Sept. 13. View story.

July

Iowa - Iowa is earning kudos for its restrictions to prevent former state lawmakers from becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving office. Overall, Iowa has the “best” revolving door policy — with a two-year cooling off period that applies to both legislative and executive officials and staff, and broadly prohibits both “lobbying activity” as well as “lobbying contacts” during the cooling off period — according to an analysis of state ethics laws by Public Integrity. View story.

June

Kentucky - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently put its stamp of approval on Kentucky’s legislative ethics law, sending a clear signal for strong public ethics laws across the nation.  View story.

 A federal appeals court has upheld a Kentucky law that bans lobbyists from giving gifts to state legislators or donating to their campaigns. View story.

North Dakota - North Dakota residents vying for a seat on a voter-approved ethics commission are being asked about their political past and examples of leadership, problem solving and unpopular decisions they've made. Nearly 70 people applied to serve on the five-member panel to oversee the conduct of legislators, statewide officials, candidates and lobbyists. View story

May

New Mexico - Top New Mexico legislators have appointed the first members to the state’s ethics commission, choosing longtime Santa Fe lawyer Stuart Bluestone and Las Cruces good government advocate Frances Williams for seats on the newly created committee. Voters last year overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment creating an ethics commission after years of campaigning by reformers and successive scandals that landed prominent political figures behind bars or under indictment. View story.

North Dakota -  A Ninth Circuit panel overturned a lower court decision Wednesday in a ruling with implications for how state confidentiality provisions apply to unelected officials versus elected ones. The three-judge panel ruled unanimously that a Montana state law requiring ethics complaints be kept confidential while the matter is decided by an independent body violates the First Amendment regardless of whether the complaint involves elected or unelected officials. View story.

Top North Dakota officials charged with forming a new panel to oversee ethical standards in state government say they're looking for applicants without an political agenda, as the implementation of last year's ballot measure enters what observers see as a crucial phase.  View story.

April

Georgia - A bill filed by Republicans in the Georgia House this week proposes a "Journalism Ethics Board" to oversee news coverage in the state. It also suggests fines and sanctions to punish outlets that don't comply with parts of the proposed law. View story.

March

New Mexico - New Mexico will no longer be one of just six states without an independent ethics commission, after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law Thursday a bill setting the powers and procedures of a voter-approved commission. View story.

The New Mexico House of Representatives has approved a revamped proposal that would create a new ethics commission after intense negotiations with the Senate. House lawmakers voted 66-0 late Friday to move a compromise bill that gives a judge subpoena powers and allows claims to be public after 30 days if probable cause is determined.  View story.

Texas - The "Texas Ethics Commission" is not an oxymoron, just an idiosyncrasy.  It's composed of an even number of people — unheard of in government since there's no one to break a tie. Even more remarkably, it's constitutionally mandated to include an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, seemingly the icing on the cake for chronic stalemates.  View story.

February

Arkansas: State lawmakers convicted of a federal crime in conjunction with their official duties would forfeit their state retirement benefits and the Arkansas Ethics Commission would have authority to increase its fines for ethics violations under a package of six ethics bills that legislative leaders signaled support for. View story.

Illinois: The Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC) held its monthly meeting and took the final steps to recommend the appointment of Judge Carol Pope to the position of Legislative Inspector General (LIG), effective March 1. Following the selection of Pope in December, Acting Legislative Inspector General Porter, Pope and the LEC agreed on an extension of current LIG Porter’s term by two months to allow time for her to complete open cases. This also allows for an important transition period. View story.

Kentucky: The Kentucky Senate's top leader pointed to high-profile public corruption cases in pushing for ethics legislation to shed more light on efforts to lobby the executive branch. Senate President Robert Stivers mentioned federal bribery and kickback cases involving an ex-lobbyist and a former high-ranking state official in advocating for stricter oversight of lobbyists when reaching out to executive branch agencies that craft regulations and award contracts. View story.

New York - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed reforms for the state contracting process and other ethics measures in Albany after two years of corruption convictions, including former top legislative leaders and a top aide to the governor.  View story.

North Dakota - Lobbyists who opposed adding anti-corruption language to the North Dakota constitution are urging lawmakers to quickly define the new rules to clear up any confusion about proper Capitol conduct, while the ballot measure’s supporters seek a slower approach.  View story.

January

Indiana: Members of the Senate Ethics Committee unanimously passed an amendment to its ethics guidelines that adds new protections for interns and fellows hired by the state’s legislative branch. The amendment says sexual relations between an intern and a senator, including relationships between consenting adults, constitutes unethical behavior and would be subject to an investigation by the ethics committee. View story.

Missouri: The Missouri Capitol will be missing something in the coming months. The aroma of barbecue, pancakes and other vittles wafting through the Rotunda is likely to be absent for denizens of the domed building as part of a change to the state Constitution approved by voters in NovemberView story.

New Mexico - Lawmakers and open government proponents raised questions Friday about transparency and possible conflicts with other investigative agencies as New Mexico legislators try to flesh out details of the long-discussed creation of a state ethics commission.  View story.

North Dakota: Freshly formed North Dakota legislative committees began dissecting new ethics rules voters recently carved into the state constitution Jan. 30. Lawmakers wrestled with legal definitions, discussed a new ethics commission’s rule-making powers and weighed the confidentiality of ethics complaints. The chairmen of the House and Senate committees predicted it’ll take several more meetings to iron out legislation implementing the new constitutional language. View story.