In California, state and federal laws create a complex set of requirements laws that guide elected officials and agency staff in their service to their communities.
As extensive and complex as these laws are, it is important to remember ethics laws only constitute minimum standards for officials’ conduct. The law is a floor for public official conduct, not a ceiling: just because a particular course of action is legal does not mean it is ethical. Download the full publication here.
In monarchies, public officials receive special privileges as a result of their positions. By contrast, the virtue of a democracy is that leaders understand those they govern because leaders do not enjoy special privileges
A number of laws limit “perks” enjoyed by public servants. These restrict the income they make, what uses can be made of public resources and receipt of gifts and other gestures.
Violations of California and federal ethics laws are punishable by a variety of civil, criminal and administrative penalties, depending on the severity of the violation and the degree of intent to violate the law that enforcement entities are able to demonstrate. Legal penalties are often only a small part of the overall cost of being the subject of an investigation for ethics laws violations.