Members of the House Government Operations Committee,
Through Campaign for Vermont, I have been working with the Administration and Legislature since 2015 to encourage the passage and strengthening of ethics laws in Vermont. Today I am writing because you are beginning to take testimony on S.171. I know this bill may be confusing in how it interrelates with existing rules, policies, and practices across different branches of government. It is not always easy to step back and see the broader picture of how these all tie together.Read more
Friends, earlier this week we issued our first action alert of the legislative session. Both VTDigger and VPR have picked up the story and highlighted the last-minute shredding of the ethics bill that we and others have spent two years working on.
We believe strongly that a Code of Ethics should apply equally to all three branches of state government. As envisioned a few short weeks ago, S.171 would have done that. However, the future of the bill is now uncertain as the legislative and judicial branches seek to exempt themselves or set up their own ethics policies and oversight.Read more
Over the past several years, Campaign for Vermont has worked with the legislature and the Ethics Commission to develop a Code of Ethics that would apply to all three branches of Government. As such, S.171 is currently being discussed in Senate Government Operations and is the product of several years of research and debate. But, lately the bill has hit a critical juncture in its development.Read more
Comments on S.171 – January 12, 2022
Chairwoman White and members of the Senate Government Operations Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify on the importance of a code of ethics for the State of Vermont. As you well know, this is an issue Campaign for Vermont has followed and advocated on behalf of for a number of years.Read more
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 14, 2021 (updated 6/24/2021)
Campaign for Vermont (CFV) has long been an advocate for pension reform. After nearly a decade of obstinance, to our surprise, this year the legislature took the first steps towards meaningful action. While they passed on addressing benefits in the 2021 legislative session, they did set aside pre-funding for pensions and created a task force to look at benefits and bring back recommendations this Fall. We fully expect that the legislature will pass meaningful pension reform early in 2022 that balances our commitment to public employees and the liability for taxpayers. This is a critical balance to strike.Read more
Email Blast Sent to Supporters on January 12, 2018. Subscribe!
“It’s a first step. Vermont was one of the last states to enact a state ethics commission, so it’s an important first step to establish it and give it some essential functions.”
-Brian Leven, Executive Director, VT State Ethics CommissionRead more
Email Blast Sent to Supporters on October 12, 2017. Subscribe!
We were very excited to interview Governor Phil Scott last week about his first nine months in office. We covered a range of topics including an innovative approach to rural economic development called Vermont Outdoor Recreation Collaborative, cleaning up our waterways, his $26 million teachers health care proposal, and we also got is take on an EB-5 special prosecutor.
If you missed the live stream of the interview, you can find this and previous interviews at Vote802.com/watch.Read more
Vermont ranks 43rd in government integrity laws
Most of Vermont’s elected officials are honorable and ethical, but some might fall short. However, without clear lines of what is and what is not ethical, the mere perception of waste, fraud, abuse or corruption undermines confidence in government and public servants.
Vermont affords its residents the pleasure of knowing their neighbors. Our state is full of small towns where we all know just about everyone. However, we should not mistake seeing elected officials at a meeting or bumping into them at a gas station, grocery store or high school athletic event as transparency or accountability. This is accessibility, not transparency.
Current laws address criminal activity, but not ethics and professional conduct in each branch – and at each level – of state government. That’s why Vermont ranks 43rd in government integrity laws according to the Better Government Association. And, as a practical matter, there is no process to which everyday Vermonters can turn if a government officials’ behavior is ethically questionable. We can do better.
In 2017, Campaign for Vermont was successful in pushing the House of Representatives to modify their rules and strengthen the standards for ethical behavior. Among other changes, lawmakers are now required to disclosed a comprehensive list of who compensates them. There is now an independent Ethics Committee charged with overseeing legislator behavior. This was a major step forward, but there is more work to be done.
The next step in the process is to pass a statewide code of ethics that applies to all public officials in state government. This will set the standard for what behavior Vermonters can expect from their representatives in government and allow us to move towards the end goal of giving the Ethics Commission enforcement powers so there is independent oversight.
Potential Legislative Conflicts Around Pensions
Research Paper (updated 6/24/2021)
Without Standards, Nothing is Unethical
Press Statement (released 7/20/2015)
Statement on Revolving Door
Press Statement (released 1/28/14)
State Employees Deserve Clear Whistleblower Protections
Press Statement (released 1/20/14)
Achieving Vermont Ethics Standards and Accountability in State Government
Position Paper (released 12/30/2013)