Ethics Panel To Ask County To Ban Employees From Lobbying For Exbosses
By Tom Harlan
The Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust wants to prohibit new county employees from lobbying for work for former employers for two years.
Robert Meyers, executive director of the trust, said the panel will recommend that the county commission add a section to its ordinance on conflict of interest and a code of ethics, which establishes minimum ethical conduct and behavior for elected officials, public employees and members of county and municipal advisory boards.
The proposal resembles another two-year rule that prohibits former county employees from lobbying for work for their new employers, Mr. Meyers said.
According to the ordinance, no former elected official can lobby any county or municipal official or employee during any proceeding involving a contract for two years after they leave office.
"We’d like to see a reverse two-year rule adopted," Mr. Meyers said, adding that former private employees that go to work for the county shouldn’t be involved in procurement for their former employees. "If the two-year rule is going in one direction, it should go in the other direction."
Commissioner Rebeca Sosa also said the two-year rule should go both ways.
County employees who come from a private employer might try to benefit that company and the county, she said, but the possibility of conflict should be eliminated to make government more effective.
The proposal – sponsored by Ms. Sosa and fellow commissioners Barbara Carey-Shuler and Dennis Moss – is to be heard at a commission meeting today (1/20).
The first reading is for the public to hear the proposal, Ms. Sosa said. At a second reading in March, she said, residents can tell the commission if they support it. The vote at the second reading will be binding.
The ethics code has been changed eight to 10 times in the six years the ethics commission has existed, Mr. Meyers said. A recent change to the code recommended by the panel bans prospective vendors from paying county employees to travel, he said.
The ethics commission tries to meet with each county commissioner every six to eight months to recommend changes to the code, Mr. Meyers said.
"It’s an ongoing process," he said. "We don’t always follow the calendar year. But from time to time, we make recommendations to the county commission and municipal governments for greater transparency in government."