Ethics commission could supplant Public Integrity Unit
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This is a terrible idea. The ethics commission has a long and undistinguished history of being toothless. The system is set up to fail. The commission grabs headlines by levying huge fines ($100,000 in the case of Court of Criminal Appeals judge Sharon Keller, $29,000 against Supreme Court justice Nathan Hecht), but the dirty little secret is that individuals can stall payment by going to court and engaging in endless appeals, as Keller and Hecht have done. Those fines will never be paid.
The biggest problem with allowing the ethics commission to be the body of last resort in ethics issues is that the governor gets four of the eight appointments to the commission. This is not enough to dilute the governor’s influence—particularly this governor and his penchant for cronyism.
This idea should be buried deep in the file labeled “If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.” The Public Integrity Unit has done a solid job of prosecuting offenders. Just ask Kino Flores.