Ethics bill clears governor’s desk

A bill intended to make Mississippi government and its elected officials more open and accountable cleared Gov. Haley Barbour’s desk today.

Mississippi ethics laws have received a failing grade from the Center for Public Integrity, an ethics watchdog group. Tom Hood, executive director of the Ethics Commission, said the group would give the state a “C” in response to the new law.

The law makes it easier to charge public officials with a crime for failing to disclose sources of income that are more than $2,500. It also doubles the financial penalties, and it mandates that the information appear on the commission’s Web site.

The law also prevents politicians from hiring some relatives. And it establishes regulations for blind trusts, a tool used mostly by wealthy politicians to shield themselves from conflicts of interests.

Clarion Ledger
5/12/8