Editorial: If party leaders support ethics reform, others should follow

State integrity news for Missouri, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

If a tree is felled in the forest to create the paper upon which a politician's ethics proposal is printed, does it make a noise? The question arises because last week, Republican Dave Spence, a candidate for Missouri governor, unveiled a comprehensive proposal to change ethics laws to protect citizens from official corruption.

Now, as we head to the governor's race in November, both presumed candidates, Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, and Mr. Spence, a Republican, are saying the same thing: The state's anti-corruption laws are too weak.

Read the rest of the story at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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Connecticut Senate passes campaign finance disclosure bill

State integrity news for Connecticut, from CT News Junkie:

The Senate gave final passage early Wednesday to a bill reworking the state’s campaign finance disclosure laws, sending it to the desk of Gov. Dannel Malloy, who’s less than supportive of it.

The bill aims to increase transparency in the election process by requiring corporations to disclose their campaign activity. It’s a response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations, unions, and special interest groups to funnel unlimited funds into political campaigns.

Read the rest of the story at CT News Junkie.

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New York hospital executive sentenced to three years for bribing legislators

State integrity news for New York, from the New York Times:

The former hospital chief executive at the center of a bribery conspiracy that ensnared former State Senator Carl Kruger and others was sentenced on Monday to three years in prison. The former executive, David P. Rosen, 64, had been convicted of bribing Mr. Kruger and two other legislators in return for having them use their influence in Albany to benefit his health care organization.

The conspiracy, which also involved a lobbyist, another hospital executive and a health care consultant, has been seen as casting light on the pervasiveness of corruption in Albany and on the often-cozy ties there between legislators and hospitals.

Read the rest of the story at the New York Times.

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Why Texas gets a D+ grade for corruption risk

State integrity news for Texas, from SII parter KERA:

Texas ranks in the bottom half of all states for being vulnerable to corruption. That’s one of the findings of the extensive State Integrity Investigation that was recently released. It gave Texas a grade of D+.

During a live, hour-long call-in program KERA’s Shelley Kofler took a closer look at several areas in which Texas scored poorly: access to public information, campaign financing and conflicts of interest.

Listen to the discussion at KERA.

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Loopholes in Georgia's lobbyist gift ban order under review

State integrity news for Georgia, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The language in Gov. Nathan Deal’s order is crystal clear on how the state bureaucracy is supposed to handle lobbyists. “State employees ... should not accept benefits of any sort under circumstances in which it could be inferred by a reasonable observer that the benefit was intended to influence a pending or future decision or to reward a past decision,” the order says.

Ryan Teague, Deal’s executive counsel, took a look at the order and determined that most boards do not fall under the ban, but employees of the executive departments do. Teague said the governor’s office is reviewing the order.

Read the rest of the story at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Editorial: Don't use taxpayer money for your political campaign

State integrity news for Idaho, from the Idaho Statesman:

The latest nominee for the traveling “What-was-this-senator-thinking?” trophy is Cottonwood Republican Sheryl Nuxoll.The first-term lawmaker decided to take advantage — and we do mean take advantage — of an internal rule that allows senators to spend up to $2,000 of taxpayer money sending out mailings.

There is nothing wrong with Nuxoll trying to acquaint herself with voters in her new district. But it is inappropriate for her to expect taxpayers to foot the bill.

Read the rest of the story at the Idaho Statesman.

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Answering the questions raised by Ohio's 'D' grade for corruption risk

State integrity news for Ohio, from WCPN:

Ohio received a poor grade in a recent study looking at policies and practices guarding against public corruption. Does the "D" on the report card mean taxpayers are more likely to get their pockets picked?

We'll meet the author of Ohio's State Integrity Audit, talk about why Ohio got such a poor grade and explore critics' claims that the report is too subjective.

Listen to the discussion at WCPN.

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Editorial: Judges shouldn't rule in cases involving financial, political connections

State integrity news for Pennsylvania, from the Citizens' Voice:

It is unlikely the state Superior Court will require Luzerne County Judge Lesa Gelb to recuse herself from cases featuring testimony from police officers who have been sued by her husband. But she ought to do so anyway.

Every day across Pennsylvania, judges hear cases argued by attorneys who have given them campaign contributions. Even if challenged by a litigant about the influence such contributions might have, there is no requirement for a judge to step down if the judge feels he or she can remain impartial.

Read the rest of the story at the Citizens' Voice.

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Editorial: Public Information Board a step in the right direction for Iowa

State integrity news for Iowa, from the Iowa City Press Citizen:

Before a bill signing ceremony Thursday, individual Iowans had few options for forcing public officials to turn over those public records. Citizens could call the county attorney or the state attorney general — but those attorneys seldom prosecuted even clear violations of those laws.

Citizens could contact the state’s Office of Citizens’ Aide/Ombudsman, but ombudsman staff didn’t have the authority to ensure compliance of the law. So, in far too many cases, open government disputes didn’t get resolved until someone had the time, money and determination necessary to file a lawsuit.

Read the rest of the story at the Iowa Press Citizen.

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Lobbying, campaign finance transparency bills advance in Delaware

State integrity news for Delaware, from the Wilmington News-Journal:

A package of bills that would reform Delaware's campaign finance and lobbying laws advanced Wednesday in the House and Senate. Two pieces of legislation designed to reveal more information about the groups behind campaign advertisements were approved by the House Administration Committee, and the Senate passed a bill to connect lobbyists to the pieces of legislation they talk about with government officials.

All three bills are endorsed by Gov. Jack Markell's administration and sponsored by Democratic leaders in the General Assembly.

Read the rest of the story at the Wilmington News-Journal.

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