Onetime supporter says ethics board devolved into ‘lapdog, not a watchdog’

By Yaël Ossowski | September 10th, 2015 | Watchdog.org The effort to reform politics in the city of Tallahassee in the form of an appointed board was not only undermined by mistakes but also devolved into a disappointment and failure of democracy, say principal supporters of the plan. “The people of Tallahassee are disgruntled, both left and right,” said Catherine Baer, head of Citizens for Ethics Reform, the coalition formed to pass the ethics board in the city. She called the board “a lapdog, not a watchdog, which is obviously not what we envisioned.” “Almost 70 percent of citizens said […]

National ethics group broke state laws to acquire signatures

By Yaël Ossowski | September 1, 2015 | Watchdog.org Wherever it campaigns for political ethics reform, the activist group Represent.us seems plagued by legal and ethical challenges of its own. Earlier this week, Watchdog.org reported that the Represent.us-backed ethics board in Tallahassee, Fla. was slammed – by its own former supporters – for conflicts of interest in the July hiring of legal counsel. At almost the same time, a Lansing, Mich., city attorney ruled that a Represent.us-backed ethics group there broke state laws in acquiring signatures for a ballot initiative that would require lobbyists to register with the government and […]

Anti-corruption group’s ethics boards face ethical problems

By Yaël Ossowski  / August 31, 2015 / Watchdog.org Just eight months after it was created to eliminate corruption in local government, the Tallahassee Ethics Board seems to have ethics problems of its own. At the end of its July meeting, board members quietly agreed to hire as their legal counsel the very same law firm that represents the city commission — which the board is supposed to police. “It was all done behind closed doors,” Peter Butzin, chair of Common Cause Florida and until now one of the ethics board’s key supporters, told the Tallahassee Democrat. “We don’t even […]