Governor Lynch Signs Bipartisan Legislation Reforming State Government's Ethics Laws
Gov. John Lynch today signed bipartisan legislation reforming New Hampshire state government's ethics laws, creating an ethics commission for the executive branch, tightening gift-giving rules, and increasing the regulation of lobbyists.
" I believe that serving in public office is a great honor and a sacred trust. That is why from my first moments in office, I made clear that I was committed to making sure New Hampshire state government was open, ethical and honest, " Gov. Lynch said.
Even before he took office, Gov. Lynch proposed the creation of an independent Ethics Commission for the Executive Branch, the only branch of state government that doesn't currently have an ethics commission.
" I worked to place greater restrictions on myself, my office and the Executive branch because I believe that the people of New Hampshire deserve the highest standards of ethics and integrity in their elected officials, " Gov. Lynch said.
" This new ethics commission will provide additional and lasting assurance to our citizens that their business is conducted with integrity, " he said.
This commission will have the authority to:
o Issue guidelines on the appropriate conduct for Executive Branch officials, consistent with the state Code of Ethics;
o Issue interpretive rulings explaining or clarifying the law, guidelines, etc.
o Render advisory opinions;
o Receive sworn complaints, investigate allegations of violations, and make appropriate findings;
o Investigate any unauthorized release of information
o Recommend disciplinary action, including but not limited to removal from office and criminal charges.
In addition to working for the Ethics legislation, Gov. Lynch also put his own assets in a blind trust and was the first New Hampshire Governor to issue an Executive Order requiring his staff to file public financial disclosures.
In addition, this legislation:
* Requires that people lobbying for state contracts or lobbying the executive branch on legislation to now register as lobbyists.
* Establishes comprehensive gift-giving rules that are strict and uniform across state government.
* Makes clear that people cannot use their participation in state government activities to advance their own private, personal and business interests - a provision that applies to both the legislative and executive branches.
" This legislation was the result of bipartisan work. And in the end, we came together to pass a comprehensive ethics reform legislation that ensures the highest codes of conduct for public officials, " Gov. Lynch said. " I want to thank the members of the legislature for their efforts. "
The legislation, SB 206, was sponsored by Senators Sylvia Larsen, Lou D'Allesandro, Maggie Hassan, Bob Clegg, Martha Fuller Clark and Iris Estabrook, and Representatives Shawn Jasper, Jim Craig and Sheila Francoeur.