CFV Takes Position on Municipal Ethics (H.875)

Campaign for Vermont has long supported government ethics reform in Vermont. We were the lead advocate in the passage of Act 79 in 2017, which created the Ethics Commission, and we supported the creation of a uniform state code of ethics in 2022. We recognize that applying a uniform code of ethics to municipalities that vary in size and complexity should not be taken lightly. There exist today a wide range of municipal ethics policies that guide the conduct of our local public officials and any complaints are ultimately referred back to the municipality for resolution. Some municipalities have a very strong process, with their own ethics policies and ethics commission, and others are non-existent. Vermonters deserve to have a baseline set of expectations around the conduct they can expect from their public officials – a statewide uniform code of ethics that applies to municipal officials affords this opportunity. 

While the vast majority of public officials are honest hard-working servants to the public good, ethical violations can and do occur. Vermont is not immune to conflicts of interest, nepotism, self-dealing, and host of other objectionable activities. This is why independent oversight is needed. Vermonters deserve to have a neutral third party they can go to when they have a concern about the conduct of a public official. They need to be able to trust the outcome of that process and that their issue has been taken seriously. The routing of complaints back to the very public body that you are complaining about does not inspire confidence or public trust in the conduct of our municipal officials. 

Recognizing that many of Vermont’s municipalities are tiny, we would encourage any legislation that balances the two goals above, uniform ethical standards and independent oversight, with the need to not overwhelm municipalities and to inspire them to be an active partner in addressing these concerns. As drafted in the version passed by the House, we believe H.875 accomplishes this. We would note that there likely seems to be some jurisdictional issues and other operational details to work out in how the bill would ultimately be implemented, but we believe these are solvable issues.


The Campaign for Vermont Board of Directors voted 4-1 in support of this position statement. Linda Joy Sullivan was not able to support the bill at this time.

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  • Mark Lorenzini
    commented 2024-05-13 06:50:00 -0400
    100% positive move. Ethics leads to transparency which opens the mind to trust our system of government. Kudos
  • Ben Kinsley
    published this page in News 2024-05-06 21:37:34 -0400

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