One of the Ethics Commission’s duties is to issue “advisory opinions” to public servants regarding the state’s (meager, weak and sometimes unclear) conflict-of-interest and ethics laws. The opinions don’t carry the weight of law, but they do provide some legal cover if a public servant follows the advice.
And in most cases, constituents will never know of the ethical dilemmas over which specific public servants struggle. While the opinions are made public, the names of those requesting them or involved are kept secret, at least by the commission.
I took a look at the most recent ethics advisory opinions, those issued for 2017 to date. They shed some insight into ethical dilemmas our poor public servants face while trying to serve the commonwealth, and even into their personal lives.