Trends and Issues in State Ethics Agencies

States vary greatly in how they identify and define “ethics” in the public sector. Meaningful and accurate comparisons of remedial state ethics processes are therefore difficult to easily render. However, ethics governance that involves standards of conduct and protections against conflicts of interest within the states often shares common traits. These traits include the creation of boards designed with oversight independent of appointment authorities, often delegated a trio of educational, advisory, and enforcement authority, in order to administer uniform standards and financial disclosure for public officers. These bodies share a vital goal of securing increased protection to the broader public interest by recognizing and limiting the inherent or acquired personal and familial conflicts of interest of those public servants who make and implement public policy and expend public funds.

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About the Author
David E. Freel has been the executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission since 1994.  Before joining the Ethics Commission staff, he was a faculty member of the Ohio State University College of Law. Freel has written articles on Ohio’s ethics law and given ethics presentations at seminars and conferences in the United States and Canada. He is a past president of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) and was honored with the COGEL Service Award in 2002.