State senators and their aides spent Wednesday discussing ethics, but it wasn’t all dry reading from handbooks.
Ethics experts came up with several “hypotheticals for discussion.”
They include: "Senator publishes Top 10 items on his personal bucket list on Facebook. Lobbyist Employer’s government affairs representative who is a FB friend of the Senator sees the Facebook posting and posts the following FB message, 'We can help you achieve #8. Like our FB page. Hope you can support our bill!! J' What should Senator do?
a) Unfriend the Lobbyist Employer’s representative?
b) Post a denial message on Facebook?
c) Contact the U.S. Attorney?
d) Communicate disapproval by other medium to the Lobbyist Employer’s representative."
Asked if there are recommended correct answers, Mark Hedlund, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, said, “Not necessarily,” adding that the questions and answers were provided to generate discussion. He said some scenarios were drawn from real incidents.
In another hypothetical scenario, a businessman with a position on pending tax legislation wants to buy dinner for a senator. The hypotheticals handbook asks state officials whether they feel the following subjects are ethically OK to talk about.
"a) Another senator’s daughter’s summer job opportunities
b) Senator’s in-district Boys Club event sponsorship
c) Senator’s campaign funding needs
d) Senator providing businessperson a Senate Resolution of appreciation
e) General state of economy and burden of taxes upon California businesses
f) Tax legislation that particularly affects the interests of the businessperson"