Saturday, November 1, 2008

Conduct Unbecoming

Huzzah for our Secret Uninformed Closed Door Ethics Enforcement Process!

The public may not be aware that, under the House rules of procedure governing ethics hearings, neither the legislators who petition nor their attorneys who have prepared the case for them are given any rights of participation in the ethics process once a complaint is filed. Hence, the committee members, who have no background, information, or knowledge respecting the charges presented, and with no training as investigators or prosecutors, must figure out what evidence might bear upon those charges, determine how to gather and hear that evidence, and adjudge a respondent’s guilt or innocence. In Hughes’s case, moreover, the committee was forced to do all of this on impossibly short notice, secretly, and within an extremely compressed time-line.

Notwithstanding these procedural biases which favor the accused legislator, all 8 members of the ethics committee, Republicans and Democrats, found that Hughes was guilty of “conduct unbecoming a legislator.” This rebuke was seconded with an admonition to apologize for his wrongdoing.

As to the ethics charges themselves, the committee gave Hughes a pass, not because it found him innocent, but because, in the Committee’s view, the legislature’s current ethics standards were too vague to be applied.

Our legislature at work. How proud we can be. Please vote.


  1. The legislature passed a "Sunshine Law" years ago to prevent cities and other local entities from meeting behind closed doors except for a few specific reasons: personnel matters, and real estate purchase (if I recall correctly). But the law doesn't apply to our legistors who routinely meet behind closed doors and in restaurants or church and discuss the people's business. It's time this type of business was conducted in the light of day with reporters and television cameras so we can see and hear for ourselves.

    Let the sunshine in!

  2. Rep. Greg Hughes didn't get censured because the Republican half of the Ethics Committee voted lockstep to dismiss every charge.

    Now, Hughes calls the ethics inquiry "bogus" despite the clear finding that he engaged in improper conduct, and needs to apologize.