Brown veto of ethics bill
cites melting pot of sources
Leave it to Gov. Jerry Brown to include in a veto message a reference to a 50-year-old essay that makes its point with examples from Plato, the New Testament and traditions of the Alaska Native Tlingit people.
A ritual practiced by that Alaskan tribe forms the basis for the title of “The Purity Potlatch” by Bayless Manning, one of Brown’s law professors from Yale.
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Brown referred to the essay in vetoing Senate Bill 1443, a measure Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, wrote after a spate of ethical crises in the Senate this year. It would have reduced from $440 to $200 the value of gifts public officials may receive, prohibited them from taking certain gifts, such as concert tickets and sporting events, and barred gifts from lobbyists.
Manning says tighter regulations on political behavior “are no longer really designed to affect substantive behavior. They are now in large measure ritualistic.”
The essay closes with what Brown may have read as a direct message to him: “We may hope that there will be men in high office who will have the insight, courage, and political security to resist unlimited moral escalation and the purity potlatch.”
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