Conflict of interest was the crux of our recent Zoning Board Hearing Board controversy. Gadfly gathers this was one of the hot topics a few years ago when an ethics ordinance was debated by City Council. The ZHB controversy made clear the need to go at this issue again.
Bill Scheier, Gadfly #2 (16 years of attending Council meetings), talks here at the September 3 Council meeting of different ways to deal with conflict of interest and his optimism that a successful means can be found.
Bill sees a problem and moves to do something about it.
Not just talk. Solution.
Your non-tax dollar at work again.
Won’t you aspire to be in a Gadfly video confidently espousing your views in the near future!
- No one I know of has accused anyone of voting a certain way because of campaign contributions.
- But . . . there is always the appearance of a possible conflict of interest.
- Campaign contributions are often pursuant to knowledge of a candidate’s views, that is, the candidate’s views influence the contributors.
- Whatever are we going to do to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest?
- A blanket recusal would prevent someone from contributing to a candidate with similar views.
- I came up with a limit of almost exactly $400 per person per election
- A limit on campaign contributions can be combined with recusal such that any contribution over the limit would trigger recusal
- The purpose of a campaign limit can be defeated by numerous contributions from family members and/or employees.
- I believe it will be possible to craft an ordinance that removes any clouds of conflict of interest and still allows contributors to support a candidate with compatible views, but what will be required is a willingness to sit down and engage in thoughtful discussion and analysis of these and other points that will arise.