Time for a quick survey of ethics news from elsewhere. There’s a lot of activity out there!
“Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard Arrested in Ethics Case,” Wall Street Journal.
According to the indictment, Mr. Hubbard used his position as chairman of the state Republican Party to secure business for his companies, including Craftmaster Printers, a printing company, and Auburn Network, a multimedia production company.
It accuses him of using his position as a member of the Alabama House to land business for the Auburn Network from entities such as the Southeast Alabama Gas District, a public utility. And it charges him with soliciting things of value from various lobbyists.
“Panel punts on ethics changes,” JournalGazette.com (Fort Wayne, IN).
The meeting was the result of an ethics investigation earlier this year into Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, who tried to sway his colleagues in a private House Republican caucus against a moratorium on new nursing homes. The bill died in the waning hours of the legislature.
He acknowledged in a statement that he has an ownership stake in Mainstreet Capital Partners, which has an interest in Mainstreet Property Group. His son, Zeke Turner, is CEO of Mainstreet Property, and his daughter, Jessaca Turner Stults, is Mainstreet’s registered lobbyist.
The business builds nursing homes. Turner claimed the construction ban would have had “no significant effect” on Mainstreet’s business model, but a report by The Associated Press said he stood to lose millions in future profits.
A House Ethics Committee review found Turner did not break the rules, which say a member with a conflict of interest cannot vote on or sponsor legislation affecting him or her personally. He did neither.
Since then, the AP reported that a company that was part of the ethics investigation was sold to an Ohio company as part of a $2.3 billion deal.
Hodgson is the the Republican Party’s candidate for attorney general.
In September, Hodgson alleged an impropriety in the hiring by current Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, a Democrat, for awarding more than $47,000 in legal work to a sitting state legislator, Sen. William J. Conley Jr., D-East Providence.
More specifically, Hodgson, R-North Kingstown, alleged a potential violation of the provision in the state ethics code that prohibits an elected official from accepting state employment, in this case, as a lawyer representing the state against a civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
When asked about the allegations, Kilmartin denied any conflict or potential violation of the ethics code, based on “the very specific and specialized nature of the case” and noted that the Justice Department in April reached a “landmark” settlement with the state “that will resolve violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act” for 3,250 Rhode Islanders.
A week ago, the state Democratic Party turned the tables on Hodgson.
On Oct. 9, the Democratic Party’s Executive Director Jonathan Boucher filed a complaint alleging that Hodgson initially failed to disclose his one-third ownership in his family’s Slocum turf farm in 2012 and 2013. The Democrats’ complaint also alleges he failed to disclose his “executive position as director and secretary of Sodco,” until he was questioned about it. He has acknowledged — and said he immediately corrected — “the minor clerical error.”
“This makes you wonder what other information he’s buried on his turf farm,” said state Rep. Joseph M. McNamara, the new chairman of the state Democratic Party.
Hodgson’s response: “This is a disgusting personal smear by a sad old politician.”
“The House’s Ethics Lesson for the Senate,” New York Times editorial.
The public’s low opinion of Congress has had one good effect: It has helped to insulate the Office of Congressional Ethics from members of Congress who might privately pray for the office’s demise.
The semi-independent ethics office was created six years ago, after the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal, and has since become a credible watchdog of misbehavior by House members, who dare not abolish it, much as many of them resent its oversight. The office has built such a strong reputation of nonpartisanship and professionalism in conducting discreet preliminary investigations of accusations against House members that it stands as a powerful argument for creating a parallel office in the Senate, which has no such ethics monitor.
“CalPERS board strips Priya Mathur of posts after ethics law violations,” Los Angeles Times.
The country’s richest public pension fund has stripped one of its 13 members of her posts on its board of administration after she repeatedly violated California’s political ethics laws.
Rob Feckner, board president of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, announced at a Wednesday meeting that colleague Priya Mathur no longer serves as his vice president. Mathur also lost her chairmanship of the CalPERS Pension and Health Benefit Committee and vice chairmanships of two other committees.
Feckner, however, did not remove Mathur as the fund’s representative to an international panel, Principles for Responsible Investment.
It was the second time that Mathur has been publicly disciplined by the board since first being elected as a representative of employees of public agencies that participate in the CalPERS system.