Conflict of Interest In Government

You want to raise a government ethics violation?  Here is one for you with which I absolutely agree:

I am not sure that this is a suitable subject for a blog post, probably more a project for an aspiring PhD student, but with all the discussion of conflicts of interest in the Trump cabinet, it strikes me that the most glaring conflict in the public sector is ignored: The CoI between state and local politicians elected with the support of public sector unions who then participate in compensation negotiations for the members of those unions.  Here the temptation of the politicians to buy the support of the unions with public money is overwhelming.  The impact of this is potentially trillions when public pension liabilities are included.

This is such an obvious conflict that I have looked to see if there are laws preventing this, but my initial research shows nothing.


  1. Maddog:

    No politician worth his salt would allow such a venal law as a law interfering with the pols ability to manage graft, and corruption. This union/pol graft/corruption is the life blood of the progressive movement, without it the movement will fail, no pol on either side of the aisle can allow that to happen. Which leaves me pinning my hopes to Trump, of all people, a non pol who just might be willing to eviscerate this corrupt system. Then again, if he doesn't the states are likely to do so after they suffer through the pension crisis/funding singularity, which will make them more accountable, and less likely to want the federal government controlling all of the money.

    Thanks for your thoughts, I always enjoy them, and find them useful.

    Mark Sherman

  2. Ruggerbunny:

    This exact reason is why i have advocated that if your union negotiates with a certain level of government for employment, then those union members are not allowed to vote in elections for that level of government. Simple and easy way to avoid this issue.

  3. Pinebluff:

    Long ago and far away, worked with a guy who was on the local school board. His attitude was don’t do anything to rock the boat with the teachers union as long as his kids were in the school system.

  4. SamWah:

    This is one reason why the NEA and teachers' unions are against Ms. deVos.

  5. Titan28:

    Public sector employees should never have been allowed to unionize. As the blog post states, on one side of the table you have the "workers," who are negotiating with the "employer," which in this case is an utterly perverted relationship, since, essentially worker and employer are one and the same: government workers, who are completely beholden to each other. There are no disinterested parties in this equation.

  6. jdgalt:

    What makes it even worse is the NLRA, which empowers those unions to extort political contributions from their opponents.

    Unions, like all other organizations, should be limited to representing (and taking dues from) only those individuals who want to be in them.

  7. MS61:

    Here in CT we are way beyond the type of piddling conflict you raise. Our State Ethics Office just ruled that its fine with them if the new House Majority Leader is also an official in the state employees union!]

  8. Andrew_M_Garland:

    The votes of the union members are not the main prize. The unions kick back part of wage increases, through union dues, then through direct contribution to the politicians

  9. CC:

    The problem for a politician is to find support. If the support is organized, like a union, he can get a big block of support with a single effort and get both $ and votes. That is why public employee unions (esp teachers) are so valued by the politicians. Big CoI as you say. It used to be illegal. The case now where virtually all public employee unions are solidly democrat shows exactly why it was wrong to repeal those laws.

  10. Ike Evans:

    The government-union relationship is one of the most transparently corrupt functions of government, and it exists almost entirely within the ranks of just one party.

  11. johnmoore:

    I absolutely agree. Public employee unions should be banned - or, more precisely, collective bargaining, and government recognition of unions and pay for union activist (they do this now) banned

  12. johnmoore:

    BTW, the sort of conflict Trump will have after turning his domain over to his family should (and legally is) allowed. When we elected him, we knew of his business, and there is no way he can move those assets into a blind trust.