« December 2011 | Main | February 2012 »

January 30, 2012

Ex-S.E.C. Official Settles Conflict-of-Interest Case - NYTimes.com

The NY Times reports on a conflict of interest case at the SEC:

A former enforcement official for the Securities and Exchange Commission who was accused of blocking or closing at least three investigations into the activities of the Stanford Financial Group, which the authorities claim was a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, has settled civil charges brought by the Justice Department accusing him of violating conflict-of-interest rules by later representing Stanford before the commission.

Thanks to Rosa Koppel for the tip.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Issues: Conflicts of Interest | Permalink

January 29, 2012

Changing of Guard at SEC OIG

Government Executive's story on the departure of SEC OIG David Kotz included some laudatory comments:

His emphasis on the value and inviolability of whistleblowers impressed Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who issued a statement saying, "The agency has a big job and faces ongoing challenges to stay on top of fraud . . . David Kotz produced strong, conclusive reports, even as critics claimed he was too aggressive. An aggressive, independent inspector general is best for the agency in the long run, even if that's uncomfortable for management . . . Go-along-to-get-along just doesn't get the job done. You need someone who tells it like it is."

Kotz also drew praise from Danielle Brian, executive director of the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight. "Kotz did what IGs should do: he was very engaged with the Congress and wasn't afraid to point out clearly when his agency wasn't doing its job," she told Government Executive. "He came in at a time when the SEC was in need of a tough critic -- and his investigations had some real impact." She noted that the Justice Department recently announced that it had fined a former SEC enforcement official "who went through the revolving door" to work for indicted financier Allen Stanford after delaying investigation into Stanford's alleged Ponzi scheme, a conflict exposed by Kotz's team.

via www.govexec.com

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Inspectors General | Permalink

January 25, 2012

Former CIA employee indicted for disclosing classified information

"A former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, was charged today with repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities, Justice Department officials announced."  See the full DOJ press release at: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/12-ag-083.html.

Posted by Account Deleted in Issues: Misuse of Govt. Resources, Legal Ethics | Permalink

January 24, 2012

United Nations Development Programme vacancies

Posted by Account Deleted in Help Wanted | Permalink

Potential Ethics Issues for Former Congressman

The New York Times reports that former Representative William D. Delahunt of Massachusetts, who started his own lobbying firm when he left government service last year, will earn $15,000 a month for helping the town of Hull, Mass. develop a wind energy project.  The potential issue arising from the deal is that, while he was in Congress, Mr. Delahunt earmarked $1.7 million for the same energy project.  His lobbying firm will be paid with money he created through Department of Energy grants during his final term in office. 

Posted by IEC Team 3 | Permalink

January 23, 2012

Documentary Inspires Economist Ethics Rules

The Wall Street Journal reports that the "Inside Job," a documentary about the 2007-2008 financial crisis, provided additional public pressure on economists to implement conflict of interest rules.  The new rules will require economists to disclose financial ties and other potential conflicts of interest in papers published by academic journals.  Because many economists serve as consultants for government, companies and other groups outside of their formal academic work, the argument is that the relationships formed through consulting may have influenced the economists' work, causing them to initially miss the signs of the impending financial crisis and to recommend policy prescriptions that served their clients' interests, at the expense of the economy as a whole. 

Posted by IEC Team 3 in Issues: Conflicts of Interest | Permalink

January 12, 2012

February 2nd Meeting

Our February 2nd meeting topic is professional responsibility for Government employees.  Our speaker will be Jack Marshall, the founder and president of ProEthics, Ltd., and the primary writer and editor of the ethics community blog, "Ethics Alarms" (www.ethicsalarms.com).  His articles and essays have appeared in numerous national and regional publications, and he has spoken on leadership and ethics topics before a variety of audiences in both the private and public sectors.  We are pleased to have Mr. Marshall with us for our February meeting, and are certain that, whether litigators or administrative attorneys, we'll all benefit from attending this session.

We will meet at the United States Access Board, 1331 F Street, N.W. (between 13th and 14th Streets, near Metro Center station) from 12:15 - 1:30.  As always, individuals who are on the IEC roster need not pre-register.  Ethics officials who are not on our roster but who wish to attend this meeting can pre-register by contacting Patrick.Carney@fcc.gov not later than Monday, January 30th.  Those who are neither on the roster nor pre-registered can still be admitted by showing a Government ID upon arrival at USAB.

Posted by PJC in IEC Meetings | Permalink

Alleged Conflicts With FDA Drug Approval Panels

A Washington Monthly article discusses perceived problems with FDA drug approval procedures. Here is an excerpt:

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration convened a committee of medical experts to weigh new evidence concerning the potential dangers of drospirenone, a synthetic hormone contained in popular birth control pills including Bayer AG’s Yaz and Yasmin. In a decision that helped ensure the continued presence of these drugs on American pharmacy shelves, the committee concluded by a four-vote margin that the benefits of drugs with drospirenone outweigh the risks. However, an investigation by the Washington Monthly and the British medical journal BMJ has found that at least four members of the committee have either done work for the drugs’ manufacturers or licensees or received research funding from them. The FDA made none of those financial ties public.


Bayer spokesperson, Rosemarie Yancosek, said in an e-mailed statement: “Bayer had no input on who serves on the U.S. FDA Advisory Committee panel as the FDA has its own process for selecting panel members. Furthermore, it is Bayer’s understanding that the FDA has a procedure for determining conflicts of interest for potential panel members.” 

The FDA does indeed have such a procedure, but critics argue that its guidelines define conflicts of interest too narrowly and provide too much flexibility in how they are applied. The guidelines are technically “suggested or recommended, but not required” provisions (http://www.fda.gov/downloads/RegulatoryInformation/Guidances/UCM125646.pdf). Whether an advisor can participate depends on “whether the discussion at the meeting or outcomes of the meeting will have a direct and predictable effect on the individual’s interest.” For instance, someone who was previously involved in another role for a manufacturer, or whose university received money from a manufacturer, may be allowed to participate. Even having a contract for $100,000 over a five-year period would not necessarily exclude an advisor, according to the guidelines.



Posted by IEC Team Leader in Issues: Conflicts of Interest | Permalink

January 11, 2012

National Park Service ethics official vacancy (GS-14)

Department Of The Interior, National Park Service, has a vacancy for a GS-14 Deputy Ethics Officer.  Vacancy announcement: NPSWASO-HQ-12-586121.  Closes: January 19, 2012.

See USAJobs hyperlink at: http://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/306288400.

Posted by Account Deleted in Help Wanted | Permalink

New York Times Editorial on Ethics and the Supreme Court

The New York Times recently published an editorial regarding ethics and the Supreme Court.

Posted by IEC Team 3 in Miscellaneous | Permalink

January 10, 2012

Whistleblower Bill Draws Criticism

An article in Government Executive reports that The Whistleblower Improvement Act of 2011 has passed through a House subcommittee, but is drawing criticism from watchdog groups like POGO, which states that the bill is an extreme approach that would silence would-be whistleblowers and undermine investigations.  The proposed act would require whistleblowers, with some exceptions, to report criminal activity internally in addition to filing a complaint with the SEC.  Supporters of the bill state this additional step will allow companies to stop criminal activity early, lessening the burden on an over-taxed SEC.

Posted by IEC Team 3 in Whistleblowers | Permalink

January 06, 2012

Chief Justice Comments on ObamaCare Recusal Controversy

An article in the New American details Chief Justice Roberts' comments, relaying his confidence that his fellow justices will determine an appropriate time to recuse themselves from cases wherein they may have a personal interest.  The article focuses on the ObamaCare matter.

Posted by IEC Team 3 | Permalink

January 05, 2012

Ethics Related News (Int'l)

Posted by Account Deleted in News | Permalink

DOJ to Private Law Firm

BLT (the Blog of Legal Times) reports that the assistant chief of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit has joined the Washington office of Jones Day as a partner in the corporate criminal investigations practice. A Jones Day lawyer offered a justification for the revolving door hiring:

“Hank Walther brings a wealth of experience and insight from his years in government,” Greg Shumaker, the partner-in-charge of Jones Day's Washington Office, said in a written statement. “The unique perspective he has gained from prosecuting hundreds of health care fraud and FCPA cases on behalf of the federal government will add tremendously to our corporate criminal investigations practice.”

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Issues: Revolving Door | Permalink

January 04, 2012

UN Office on Drugs and Crime request for proposals for anti-corruption projects in India

UNODC India office is inviting proposals from competent consultants / agencies for two anti-corruption projects in India. The link to the UNDP website is attached:

Those interested in this vacancy to kindly contact Swasti Rana directly at swasti.rana@unodc.org

Posted by Account Deleted in Help Wanted | Permalink

Reminder: Big Meeting on Thursday, Jan. 5

What looks like an exceptional IEC meeting will be held Thursday, January 5. The topics will be personal conflicts of interest and post-Government employment restrictions.

It will be a joint meeting with the Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association (WMACCA). Instructors include Professor Kathleen Clark, of Washington University School of Law, Mike Kallens, of Booz Allen Hamilton, and Pat Carney, of the FCC, Jeff Green, of DOD, and Steve Epstein, of Boeing.

Our December 12 post has the details.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in IEC Meetings | Permalink

Controversy Over Ouside Organization's Cash Payment to Whistleblower

Thanks to an IEC member for  alerting us to a Fedsmith.com story about legal wrangling over a $383,600 cash payment from POGO to a Department of Interior economist who helped POGO win a false claim action. After the Department of Justice intervened, the defendan oil companies settled the case  for about $440 million.

The Department of Interior attempted to fire the economist, citing 18 U.S.C. 209(a) (prohibiting supplementation of salary).

P.S. We were a little late following up on this tip due to the holidays and medical issues of one IEC reporter. If you submitted a tip, but did not see it published, please send us a reminder. We get a lot of excellent tips from readers, and don't want to inadvertently fail to follow up.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Issues: Conflicts of Interest, Issues: Outside Activities, Whistleblowers | Permalink

January 03, 2012

Interior Official Abjures Revolving Door

The Hill reports on one senior official's method for stopping revolving door problems: Just say no.

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Issues: Revolving Door | Permalink

January 02, 2012

CLE Program on Leaving Government Employment

The DC Bar will host a CLE event on January 11 as follows:

Leaving Government Employment: Ethics Issues for Attorneys

Time: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 from 5:30 pm to 7:45 pm
Credit: 2.0 Ethics Credit Hours

Description: Leaving federal government employment for the private or nonprofit sector raises important ethics issues for attorneys and presents potential pitfalls. Government post-employment restrictions do not always coincide with the Bar's ethics rules and carry criminal penalties if violated. Even those who are not planning to leave government work will benefit from a clear understanding of post-government employment ethics issues, including matters an attorney may be permanently barred from working on after leaving federal service. From potential conflicts of interest that must be considered during and after the employment search process to rules about confidentiality and contact with one's former government employer, government attorneys will walk away from this course with a better grasp of both the ethical standards in the applicable D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct and any relevant statutory requirements. It is particularly important for government attorneys to understand that they face potential criminal liability and disciplinary action from the Bar when they violate some of these rules. The course also will alert attendees to post-government employment issues on fee sharing, the Obama Ethics Pledge, and other matters dealing with employment transitions.


D.C. Bar Conference Center
1101 K Street NW
(Nearest Metro Stop: Metro Center 12th Street)
Washington DC 20005
CLE Program 202-626-3488
Peggy Love, Attorney-at-Law; Former Deputy Ethics Official, Office of General Counsel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Thomas Mason, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP
CLE Credit
Administrative Law and Agency Practice Section $89.00
Corporation, Finance and Securities Law Section $89.00
Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice $89.00
Criminal Law and Individual Rights Section $89.00
D.C. Bar Members $99.00
Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section $89.00
Government Attorneys $109.00
Government Contracts & Litigation Section $89.00
Labor and Employment Law Section $89.00
Law Practice Management $89.00
Litigation Section $89.00
Others $129.00
Real Estate, Housing and Land Use Section $89.00

Posted by IEC Team Leader in Issues: Post Employment, Training (to Attend) | Permalink

January 01, 2012

2012 Ethics Calendar

As we begin the new year, where would be be without the 2012 OGE Schedule of Important Ethics Dates?

Posted by IEC Team Leader in OGE | Permalink

Training Tip 19: Lessons from Movie New Year's Eve

Despite its star-studded cast that included Robert DeNiro, Hillary Swank, Michelle Pfeiffer,  Halle Berry,
Ashton Krutcher and many others, the new movie New Year's Eve met with critical disdain (including a pathetic 7% rating at Rotten Tomatoes) and limited success at the box office. A romantic comedy in the Love, Actually and Valentine's Day mode, it was less successful than those films.

One part of the movie met with success, at least in this quarter. Near the middle  of the movie, the machinery that raises and lowers the ball for the iconic Times Square ball drop turns balky. The assembled crowd is worried that their fun will be spoiled.

The character portrayed by Hillary Swank is asked to take the microphone and give the crowd an update. Everyone is expecting reassurance. The Swank character provides more: Inspiration. She goes beyond the immediate crisis to exhort the audience to approach the holiday in the right way. The audience received not just reassurance but inspiration.

Let's resolve that during the coming year, we'll all try to give our audiences more. Rather than being content to provide dry ethics rules, let's give students engaging material that will help them understand the significance of ethics and inspire them.

We will be doing the best we can to support you in this effort by providing useful resources through this Trainning Tips column.


Posted by IEC Team Leader in Training Tips | Permalink