Seton Hall law professor and former chair of the New Jersey State Ethics Commission
“Illinois law is really behind on this…These kinds of conflicts should not be permitted.”
On the issue of powerful legislators lobbying local officials: “At a minimum, that creates untoward appearances, and can lead to impossible conflicts.”
Government ethics fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University
“The culture can become so entrenched. …You come into office, and see the way people are doing business. You discover it’s the way business has always been done. And you follow suit.”
On the issue of powerful legislators lobbying local officials: “You’re fooling yourself if you think you can wear those two hats and not have it influence the outcome.”
Professor of government ethics at Washington University School of Law
“It is delusional” to make the goal eliminating conflicts. Unlike judges, she noted, officials may be elected because of their special interests – so a union official would be expected to continue advocating for union causes. And the job of legislator is officially a part-time position, leaving the expectation elected officials will be earning money from outside interests.
The challenge is to determine how to draw the line, so legislators remain driven to do the public good and not the private interests of themselves or their relatives and partners.
She had several ideas on how the line could be drawn:
Lawmakers could set a limit on how much outside income officials could earn. They could prohibit certain kinds of outside work, such as lobbying. They could require each potential employment be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, for potential conflicts. Or they could declare specific sources of income off-limits.
“The issue is actually a larger question than just lobbying … These officials are accepting compensation from people who may have an interest in their actions as public officials. They are being paid by people who may want to influence their policy decisions.”
Richard W. Painter
Former White House ethics counsel, now professor at University of Minnesota law school
“Illinois has lagged behind other states in adopting ethics regulations, and state lawmakers are traditionally loosey-goosey about imposing restrictions on themselves.”
Permitting officials to hold outside jobs “is a really bad idea. People think it’s cheaper to have part-time officials, but it costs people a lot of money in other ways.”