Ethics controversy a standoff between current and former ethics directors

The State Ethics Commission’s application of key ethics provisions to members of temporary state task forces is again causing headaches.

Civil Beat’s Nathan Eagle described the latest go-around over SB893, which was notable for pitting testimony by former commission director Dan Mollway (who supported the bill) against the commission’s current director, Les Kondo, who strongly opposed the measure.

Click here to read the testimony as submitted.

Mollway says the commission’s interpretation of a key ethics provision is “clearly incorrect” and a “clear misunderstanding” of the law.

In his testimony, Mollway referred to my post here on August 29, 2011 (“Ethics Commission should take a second look at lobbying restriction“), as well as his subsequent comment.

I think Kondo is correct in saying that this legislative intrusion into the commission’s business is a dangerous precedent. However, in this case, I also think the commission has created the problem by staking out an overly broad and controversial position on this issue.

I doubt this is the last we’ll be hearing about this matter.

3 responses to “Ethics controversy a standoff between current and former ethics directors

  1. Kondo has a history of overreaching, ignoring practical obstacles and realistic objectives in order to impose a strictly legalistic strait jacket.

    He consistently tried to apply the standards appropriate to decision makers to those whose role is to provide advice.

    If the Legislature ask you how proposed bill X will affect your industry and how it might be made more effective or less expensive while stiil accomplishing the same purpose, a public purpose is served because a better bill may be the result.

    But making the price of giving that advice be that you may not subsequently submit testimony or talk with legislators about the bill serves no obvious public purpose, and creates an incentive for industry representatives to not participate in discussions about future legislation.

  2. Ian: If this matter involves how a state agency has INTERPRETED state law, it fully within the jurisdiction of the Legislature to enact a measure to correct the misinterpretation. Executive branch agency’s have the responsibility to execute on legislative policy. But they do NOT have the authority to enact new policy – that’s the domain of the Legislature.

  3. Randy, Well said.

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