I'm delighted to report that Prof. Richard Painter, of the University of Minnesota law school, will be guest-blogging this coming week. Prof. Painter is the author of dozens of law review articles on lawyers' ethics, corporate governance and corporate ethics, and securities law, and coauthor of the casebooks Securities Litigation and Enforcement (2d ed. 2007) and Professional and Personal Responsibilities of the Lawyer (2d ed. 2001). He has been active in law reform efforts, including the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act provision requiring lawyers to report known securities law violations up the ladder to senior management and, if necessary, to client boards of directors.
He's also the author of the new Oxford University Press book Getting the Government America Deserves: How Ethics Reform Can Make a Difference. Here's a quick summary:
Federal ethics law is relatively unknown in legal academia and elsewhere outside of Washington, D.C., but it is binding on over one million federal employees. Lobbyists, federal contractors, lawyers and others who interact with the federal government are also deeply interested in federal ethics law and represent a surprisingly large market for a little-studied area of the law. The book argues that in order to be effective, federal ethics law must address sources of systematic corruption rather than simply address motives that individual government employees might have to betray the public trust (such as personal financial holdings or family relationships). The book articulates a general approach to combating systemic corruption as well as some specific proposals for doing so.
The book argues that the existing ethics regime is in need of substantial reform since federal ethics laws fail to curtail conduct that undermines the integrity of government, such as political activity by federal employees and their interaction with lobbyists and interest groups. The book also contends that in some other areas, such as personal financial conflicts of interest, there is too much complexity in regulatory and reporting requirements, and rules need to be simplified. Painter's solution includes strengthening the enforcement of ethics rules, reforming the lobbying industry, and changing a system of campaign finance that impedes meaningful government ethics reform.
I'm much looking forward to Prof. Painter's posts.
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