County Executive John Ladenburg this afternoon informed the County Council he thinks there’s a glaring loophole in its proposed ethics ordinance: the council has exempted its own staff from financial disclosure requirements. He’ll propose an amendment addressing that issue when the council takes up the ordinance on Tuesday.
Read Ladenburg’s e-mail below.
The effort to improve our Code of Ethics has had my support from the
beginning. However, I believe the ordinance currently being considered
The amendments you have provided omit a group of employees who wield
perhaps the greatest influence on contracts, legislation and lobbying
efforts of anyone in Pierce County government. That group would be your
Department directors develop and present budget recommendations for
council approval in an open, public process. However, your staff works
closely with you behind the scenes to develop the final document. Staff
members have your collective ear. Could they not be swayed by lobbyists
and gift givers to use their positions as your advisers to influence the
budget? Obviously what they say carries a great deal of weight, perhaps
even greater than the departments themselves. That was readily apparent
this year when suggestions made by department directors were virtually
It is entirely appropriate the county executive’s chief of staff be
included in the ethics amendments. For the same reasons, so should the
council’s. And if county department heads are subject to your
amendments, it only makes sense that your budget director, attorney,
research analysts, personal assistants and performance audit staff who
work with you on a daily basis to spend taxpayer dollars also be held to
the same standards.
Without the inclusion of your staff, the ordinance to amend the Code of
Ethics can only be described as weak. I am more than happy to work with
you to close this glaring loophole and create a definitive ordinance
that covers all of the appropriate personnel. An amendment addressing
this issue will be in front of you tomorrow.
John W. Ladenburg