Ethics in government is one of those phrases that evoke satirical political cartoons or oxymoron jokes, but without constant citizen vigilance we would have more corrupt practices, and in fact we have made a lot of progress in Colorado with the passage of Amendment 41 in 2006. We have a good backbone set up in Colorado, but there is much more to do to create an ethical political environment and restore trust in government.

A good vision for what ethics in government looks like can be found in the Colorado Constitution, in the introductory section of Amendment 41.

The people of the State of Colorado hereby find and declare that:

(a)    The conduct of public officers, members of the General Assembly, local government officials, and government employees must hold the respect and confidence of the people;

(b)   They shall carry out their duties for the benefit of the people of the state;

(c)    They shall, therefore, avoid conduct that is in violation of their public trust or that creates a justifiable impression among members of the public that such trust is being violated;

(d)   Any effort to realize personal financial gain through public office other than compensation provided by law is a violation of that trust; and

To ensure propriety and to preserve public confidence, they must have the benefit of specific standards to guide their conduct, and of a penalty mechanism to enforce those standards.

Read the rest of the text of Amendment 41.

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