Modesto donation limits an ethics test

June 10, 2013 

During the discussion of a proposed change to donation limits requiring disclosure, City Council members Dave Lopez and Dave Cogdill Jr. agreed that you cannot legislate ethics. Tell that to Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, who was found to have taken an unreported donation in kind (modification to his home), for which he was ousted.

Other politicians also have been run out of office over ethics issues. The proposed change only means that a donor would need to be named if they gave $1,000 or more. The member would be expected to recuse if said donor brought an item before the council; this avoids any perception of impropriety on either side. Simple, easy, clean and no harm, no foul.

There is a mantra in D.C. that suggests people ask themselves one question before doing anything: Would I be embarrassed to see this on the front page of The Washington Post tomorrow morning?

Lopez was vehement in his opposition, but could not explain why. He admitted that he is termed out, so this change would not affect him unless he wants to run for mayor.

The bottom line is this: Without ethics, there is no reason for trust.

RON JESKE

Modesto

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