It is lamentable that elected officials who make our laws would need to pass ethics legislation to monitor and control their own lapses in good judgment. But that's the reality, both on the state level and in Washington, D.C.
In Missouri, ethical issues are handled by the Missouri Ethics Commission. Possible violations are reported to the commission, which has a review process. In some cases, sanctions are applied.
The actions of some state legislators in recent years have prompted a new package of proposed ethics rules that will be considered in the legislative session that starts in January. House Majority Leader Steve Tilley of Perryville, Mo., had said the ethics package will have a high priority. The new rules would apply to lobbyists as well as current and former legislators.
Meanwhile, there have been accusations of ethical lapses in Congress, lately regarding the deals that have been made in getting enough votes to push health care reform through the House and Senate. More deals are likely in the offing as the two bills are massaged by a conference committee. The compromise bill will need to be approved again by both houses.
Ethics violations underscore the public's distrust of elected officials. Perhaps tougher rules can help.