Lapsed Ethics

The governor's new man on the state ethics board done us wrong

That's fine, but his ideas about ethics laws already show a clear bias. While we spoke on the phone, he complained that conflict-of-interest laws are "interpreted the wrong way." He believes that laws forbidding public officials from privately profiting through official actions "apply more to administrative agencies than to those involved in passage of law, to sole individuals as opposed to a mass of people voting."

To translate that for you, he's saying that ethics laws often don't apply to politicians. In most cases, he says, they are meant for government administrators who handle the contracts. Why? Because politicians vote with other politicians, so you can't single them out.

As if that doesn't prove that Grant is an ethical contortionist, capable of bending over backward with the best of them, he also says it's OK for politicians to profit personally from votes and official actions as long as they aren't the only ones to benefit. He uses this curious logic to defend his work at Bankers. "It wasn't a conflict because it didn't help Bankers specifically but a class of businesses of which Bankers was a part," he says.

I'm afraid we're about to read some very interestingly parsed decisions from the ethics commission. But it's not too late -- Grant's old buddies in the senate still need to confirm the nomination. Will somebody please send this column to Bush's office and tell him he needs to find a new nominee?

It won't be hard, governor. All it would take is a sense of decency and one carefully penned "Dear John" letter.

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