Wednesday, May 27, 2015

CTNJ reports on SIM conflict of interest in grant applications

Today’s CT News Junkie highlights the ethics loophole that has allowed a SIM steering committee member to apply for SIM funds to his organization. The loophole in the law, identified by the Citizen’s Ethics Board, is that appointees of the Lieutenant Governor are not subject to the Public Official’s Code of Ethics. The Code prohibits applying for funds an appointee has a role in directing and overseeing. The law defines Public Officials as appointees of the Governor or General Assembly; the Lieutenant Governor is not listed. Earlier this year advocates asked for an opinion from the Ethics Board, hoping to prevent conflicts, after receiving no answer to a sign on letter urging SIM to adopt the Code of Ethics. The Ethics Board is planning to ask the legislature to fix the loophole and has appealed to the Lieutenant Governor for SIM to adopt strong ethical standards in the meantime. That same steering committee member also appealed to a different SIM committee to change the rules allowing his organization to apply. Advocates on the committee agreed to the change finding that it was reasonable and made sense, but agree that the steering committee member should not have advocated personally for the change or applied for a grant.