An Odd Ethical Control

This observation doesn’t necessarily have any implications for Brian Stern, Governor Carcieri’s chief of staff, but this strikes me as a peculiar anti-corruption strategy:

In a March 9 letter and subsequent conversations with [ethics] commission staff, he acknowledged having applied for openings as a Superior Court judge and chief judge of the District Court and asked whether he was barred by the state’s “revolving-door” law from making the leap directly from a top position on the governor’s staff to the bench.
The law was aimed, in part, at preventing top-tier state officials from using their inside influence to land judgeships, but it also contains an exemption for people with at least five years of “uninterrupted state service.”

This is the relevant legal language:

(o) No person holding a senior policy-making, discretionary, or confidential position on the staff of any state elected official or the general assembly shall seek or accept any other employment by any state agency as defined in § 36-14-2(8)(i), while serving as such policy-making, discretionary, or confidential staff member and for a period of one year after leaving that state employment as a member of the state elected official’s or the general assembly’s senior policy-making, discretionary, or confidential staff.
(2) Notwithstanding the foregoing, a person holding a senior policy-making, discretionary, or confidential staff position who has a minimum of five (5) years of uninterrupted state service shall be exempt from the provisions of this section. “State service” as used herein means service in the classified, unclassified and nonclassified services of the state, but shall not include service in any state elective office.

How does it lessen to possibility of corruption that a person takes five years to develop sufficient “inside influence” to acquire a judgeship?

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brassband
brassband
12 years ago

Anybody know the history of this “five year” exception?
I think it had its origins in the Sundlun Administration, and it was intended to permit Gov. Sundlun to promote members of staff to new positions (i.e., Sheldon Whitehouse from Gov. Chief of Policy to Dir. of DBR; Judy Savage from Gov. Chief Legal Counsel to Superior Court Judge . . .).
Maybe someone else has additional insight . . . but I think that’s the origin.

Monique
Editor
12 years ago

That is strange. The exception flies in the face of the basic concept of the law.

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