By John Pinkney
In a democracy, government employees are expected to be civil servants, not civil masters. It is important for government employees, especially elected officials, to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest. California’s Office of the Attorney General has a 136 page document defining and discussing conflicts of interest, and it admits that even that is incomplete.
Performing Duties in an Impartial Manner
According to the Political Reform Act of 1974, “public officials, whether elected or appointed, should perform their duties in an impartial manner, free from bias caused by their own financial interests or the financial interests of persons who have supported them.” If they fail to do so, then a conflict of interest exists: the personal interests and the interests of the state are in conflict.
Under that act, public officials are disqualified from making decisions or attempting to influence decisions where they might profit or suffer financial loss from the situation. They are not prevented from owning stock or real estate that might be affected by government decisions, merely from being involved in those decisions themselves.
Avoiding Conflicts of Interest
The Fair Political Practices Commission is in charge of making sure public officials avoid conflict of interest. They do so by asking a series of eight questions. A competent Palm Springs government law firm could advise their clients as to whether an action is a potential conflict of interest or not. If an official and the public benefit from a decision, it is not considered a conflict.
Get Help in Palm Springs from Our Government Law Firm
Our Palm Springs government law firm can help you with information about conflicts of interest. Contact us at 760-322-2275 for more information.