New Hampshire legislators rarely acknowledge conflicts of interest

State integrity news for New Hampshire, from the New Hampshire Union Leader:

It is very rare for a legislator to declare any kind of conflict in a vote, let alone recuse himself or herself, according to a review of State House records. One of the first bills freshman Rep. David Robbins, R-Nashua, sponsored when he came to the State House would have required legislators to recuse themselves when they could derive a personal financial benefit from the outcome of a vote.

“I was surprised to find out when I came that, in effect, a legislator could say, ‘I have a conflict of interest and I'm going to participate anyway,'” he said.

Read the rest of the story at the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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Clouds Form Over Florida's Sunshine Laws

State Integrity news for Florida from WUSF:

It's known as the Sunshine State...and Florida's Sunshine law gives you the right to see what your government is doing. But a new report says clouds are forming over our sunshine law.

This special Florida Matters focuses on ethics in state government. Our friends at WLRN in Miami have teamed up with the Center for Public Integrity and Public Radio International on this State Integrity Investigation. The investigation graded each state on a variety of measures of corruption.

Hear the discussion from WUSF - Tampa.

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Seven Nevada legislators fined for hiding campaign expenses

State integrity news for Nevada, from the Las Vegas Sun:

Seven Assembly Democrats who did not report all of their campaign expenses have been fined $150 for violating state campaign finance laws, Secretary of State Ross Miller said Wednesday.

Democrats including Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, who is facing a difficult re-election campaign this year, failed to report expenses related to their public office, such as rent in Carson City and travel to professional conferences.

Read the rest of the story at the Las Vegas Sun.

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Tennessee Senate approves reform of judicial oversight

State integrity news for Tennessee, from the Tennessean:

Senators voted 30-0 to replace the Court of the Judiciary, which reviews and rules on complaints against judges, with a new 16-member board appointed by judges, legislative leaders and the governor. The new Board of Judicial Conduct would be created after years of complaints that the Court of the Judiciary did not aggressively investigate claims of judicial misconduct and was too closely tied to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which appointed more than half of its members.

The measure, Senate Bill 2671, also sets up a procedure for investigating complaints against judges and requires the board to report regularly to the legislature on how grievances are resolved.

Read the rest of the story at the Tennesseean.

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Delaware legislators introduce bill to improve government transparency

State Integrity news for Delaware from SII partner WHYY:

To encourage a more open government in the First State, Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del, along with Sen. President Pro Tempore Tony DeLuca, D-Varlano, House Speaker Bob Gilligan, D-Sherwood, and other legislators came together on Wednesday to introduce a new bill.

The bill comes after a recent survey focused on accountability and corruptibility in numerous states. Delaware earned a "C" grade and ranked near the middle, coming in the 20th slot of 50 states.

Read and hear more from WHYY.

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New Jersey Ethics Commissioner says state needs to fight "soft corruption"

State integrity news for New Jersey, from the Times of Trenton:

The Center for Public Integrity’s finding that New Jersey is one of the least corrupt of all 50 states is good news. The good news in the report covers only one aspect of corruption in New Jersey: law-breaking by government officials.

But there is another area of public corruption where New Jersey comes up short: ethical misconduct by public officials that violates time-honored standards of government integrity but breaks no laws. Following the rationale that “if it’s legal, it must be OK,” this behavior has a negative impact on the quality of government.

Read the rest of the story at the Times of Trenton.

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Delaware legislature considers increased lobbying disclosure after 'F' grade

State integrity news for Delaware, from The News Journal:

State legislators, who have resisted efforts in recent years to reform lobbying laws, will get another chance as a bill spearheaded by the Markell administration would have lobbyists disclose every bit of legislation they are trying to influence.

The current bill, drafted with the help of Gov. Jack Markell and his staff, has been in the works for months and was introduced Wednesday -- a little more than a week after Delaware's lobbying laws and oversight received a grade of F in a nationwide study on state government transparency.

Read the rest of the story at The News Journal.

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Georgia ethics bill "gutted" by legislature

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

When this newspaper noted last week that a new report judged Georgia to have the weakest anti-corruption laws in the nation, state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, pushed out a photo of the front page headline via Twitter. On Tuesday, the Senate Rules Committee gutted a measure sponsored by McKoon that merely paired a few lawmakers with citizens interested in tougher ethics laws to form a study committee.

The civilians were stripped from the committee, and membership reshuffled to eliminate McKoon – a member of Common Cause at home.

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

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Short on cash, campaign board struggles to keep up

State Integrity news from Minnesota from Minnesota Public Radio:

The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, which monitors political financing and lobbying, struggles to get all the resources and authority it needs from the Legislature. Gary Goldsmith, the board's executive director, says stagnant funding makes it difficult for his staff to do its job effectively.

A new report by the State Integrity Investigation, a study that looked at each state's risk for corruption, underscores Goldsmith's concern: Minnesota scored lower than other states on some questions having to do with the board's ability to pursue all investigations.

Read more from Minnesota Public Radio.

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Opinion: Arizona's 'D+' grade might get even worse

State integrity news for Arizona, from the Arizona Republic:

The study was conducted by the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C., which based its grading system on laws in each state that demonstrate transparency and accountability in government. On a scale of A to F, we got a D+.

Our grade probably dipped a bit based on "legislative accountability" and "lobbying disclosure" after the center's folks found out that none of the Arizona legislators who took thousands of dollars in trips, hotel rooms, tickets, meals and other goodies from the Fiesta Bowl got into any trouble.

Read the rest of the story at the Arizona Republic.

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