The Legislature is at an impasse trying to decide whether to establish and adequately fund a statewide ethics commission that has real enforcement capability. There’s been considerable favorable testimony by Vermonters, ethicists and our secretary of state, Jim Condos, who has been a relentless champion of government transparency, inclusion and establishing such a commission. Each time VTDigger runs a story on ethics legislative testimony or ethical lapses by state officials, comments from Vermonters run almost universally in favor of establishing such a commission.
Legislative arguments against it are unconvincing:
• In this year of budget constraints, we can’t afford another government bureaucracy ($330,000 of $3.5 billion); (less than 1/100th of a percent)
• Financial disclosure of possible conflicts will discourage Vermonters from government service;
• We’re all good people and we all know each other;
• What if an ethics commission ran amok and looked for self-serving behavior where there was none?
• An ethics commission would not have prevented any of the recent malfeasance, etc.
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