Ethics Chart - A Look at How 50 States Handle Ethics

As part of our 2013 report on Achieving Ethics Standards and Accountability in Government we compiled a chart that compares all 50 states and how they handle ethics issues. Here's a key to help interpret the results:



Campaign Whether or not political campaigns have to disclose donation and/or expenditure reports
Citation Whether or not the law has laws pertaining to Whistleblowers.
Committee Whether or not a state has an independant non-partisan committee to deal with ethics violations
Comp Whether or not commission members recieve compensation
CompAd Whether or not there are laws in place prohibiting businesses from trying to gain a competitive advantage over another company vying for a state contract using unethical means
Confidential Whether or not there is confidentiality for complaints filed with an ethics authority
Contingency Lobbyists entering into contingency agreements based upon the outcomes of information
Contract Whether or not a state has a prohibition on legislators negotiating for state contracts
Cover Who the citations cover in the law.
Criminality The level of criminality that violations of ethics laws are processed at
Disclosure Whether or not financial disclosure is required for public officials (definition under PubOff variable)
DualEmp Whether or not there is a law preventing Legislators or state officials from other employment that may cause a conflict of interest
DualOff Laws regarding whether or not a state legislator or official can hold a second office or position within the state or local government
EthicsTra Ethics Committee holds regular trainings for public officials and state employees on code of ethics issues
EthScore National ethics ranking by statehouse journalists on a scale of 1 to 7 (NY Times)
FamDis Required disclosure of family members employed by the state by candidates for state employment
Fine Maximum fine that can be levied for an ethics violation
FormerCO Length of time memebers of a board or commission cannot be employed by an entity they oversaw
FormerSE Length of time after leaving public service employees can not work for a businesses with government contracts they helped to negotiate
FutEmp "Gifting" law that explicitly prohibits the promise of future employment
Honoraria Whether or not a state prohibits public officials from accepting honoraria for speaking engagements
Gifts Cash value limit of gifts that can be accepted by public officials or government employees by a single person or entity in a single calendar year
Information If there are ethics laws in place preventing disclosure of confidential information for financial gain by public officals or state employees
LobbyDis Minimum dollar value of an expenditure lobbyists are required to disclose on an activity report submited to Ethics Committee or other governing body
LobbyID Lobbyists are required to identify themselves by wearing name tags etc.
Negotiate Whether or not there are laws prohibiting public officials or government employees from having personal or financial interests in a state contract they are involved in negotiating for
Nepotism Determines if there are laws prohibiting favoritism towards family members
NumGuilt Number of officials found guilty of ethics violations per million residents per year from 1998 to 2008 (NY Times)
Prison Maximum prison sentance that can be issued for an ethics violation
Protection Whether or not there are protections from reprocussions in place for people who report ethics violations
PublicFunds Wether or not state agencies are prohibited from hiring and retaining lobbyists with public funds
PubOfficial Who is covered under the definitition of public official
Recusal Legislators or public officials are required to recuse themselves of a debate, vote, or decision involving a personal, financial, or business related conflict of interest
Registration Lobbyists and interest groups are required to register with the Ethics Committee
RepOth Laws regarding legislators representing other entities before state agencies
RevDoor Length of time after leaving public service that legislators are not allowed to be employed as lobbyists
Sactions Largest economic sanction that can be levied by a committee. $1 represents either an unspecified maximum or other sanction. $0 represents no sanctioning power.
Size Number of officials appointed to an ethics committee or commission
StateEmp Wether or not state employees are bound by the same or similar laws as members of the legislature
Subpoena Whether or not the Ethics Committee has the power to subpoena witnesses
Terms Length of committee member terms
Vote If a legislator is required to disclose any possible conflict of interest prior to a vote on a given piece of legislation

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