Thatcher Imboden asks some good questions but personally, I think the answers should be pretty self evident.
In my opinion, there is virtually no difference between a real conflict of interest and a perceived conflict of interest. An elected official who accepts campaign contributions from a developer (or anyone else who is seeking to profit financially from a project or a contract)and who then votes to support that project or contract has - at the very least - a perceived conflict of interest. I know there are elected officials - many of whom I support - who have found themselves in this position. The only way out of the dilemma I think is to recuse or abstain from voting on the contract or project and making it clear up front that one does so because one has accepted campaign contributions from this vendor or bidder or developer. Citizens have a right to expect their elected officials to act in the best interests of their constituents and communities and voting to support the project or contract for of a campaign contributor - even if the project or contract is in the public interest - is clearly a perceived conflict of interest and requires a recusal or abstention. There is not the same as helping to get a pothole fixed or an alley plowed or some other assistance to a constituent who may also have contributed to the one's campaign. The difference I think is that the developer or vendor or bidder is seeking to profit from the elected official's vote while the constituent seeking pothole repair or a plowed alley is not. Obviously, a developer or bidder or vendor who is seeking the government's blessing and the elected official's vote can choose to remain ethically "pure" by not contributing to campaigns for those officials or their challengers. In fact, I would like to see tough prohibitions imposed on elected officials at all levels that would prohibit accepting contributions from persons or entities doing business with the public body they are elected to. Since Thatcher specially mentioned real estate developers, it seems to me that any time a city council or park board member accepts contributions from real estate developers and then votes to support their projects, they should expect the public raise questions about whether their vote was bought. Similarly, a developer who makes contributions and then secures favorable votes from those council or park board members to whom they made contributions should and will always be viewed suspiciously as having bought that support. How could it be any other way? Jim Bernstein Fulton -- No virus found in this outgoing message. Checked by AVG Free Edition. Version: 7.1.371 / Virus Database: 267.13.12/192 - Release Date: 12/5/2005 REMINDERS: 1. Be civil! Please read the NEW RULES at http://www.e-democracy.org/rules. If you think a member is in violation, contact the list manager at [EMAIL PROTECTED] before continuing it on the list. 2. Don't feed the troll! Ignore obvious flame-bait. For state and national discussions see: http://e-democracy.org/discuss.html For external forums, see: http://e-democracy.org/mninteract ________________________________ Minneapolis Issues Forum - A Civil City-focused Civic Discussion - Mn E-Democracy Post messages to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Subscribe, Un-subscribe, etc. at: http://e-democracy.org/mpls