A Question of Ethics

When to Disclose Employment Negotiations

November 15, 2011

Reprinted from Roll Call (November 15, 2011)

Q: I am a Senate staffer with a question about searching for a new job while still employed by the Senate. A senior staffer in our office recently told me that he is seeking a job in the private sector. He has already interviewed with a number of firms but says he was unimpressed and never considered joining them. He now plans to interview with a few more, but he has yet to schedule interviews. I am pretty sure that there was a rule change a few years back requiring staffers to report job negotiations with outside employers in order to prevent conflicts of interest. But the senior staffer hasn’t done so. Should I report him to the Ethics Committee?

A: This is sort of a toned-down version of a good Samaritan question. If you are aware that someone is breaking a Senate ethics rule, are you required to do anything about it?

While this is an intriguing question, before even considering it, there is actually a threshold question that needs to be addressed. Are you really aware that someone is breaking a rule in the first place?

You are certainly correct that there are Senate rules governing employment negotiations for Members and senior staffers. These rules were changed

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