Here’s an interesting commentary by National Education Association Rhode Island honcho Robert Walsh on the proposed constitutional amendment in Rhode Island to give the Ethics Commission authority over the General Assembly, as highlighted on Twitter by local progressive Sam Bell:
… ever since the Ethics Commission tried to stop any Union MEMBER for voting on any issue related to unions the potential for mischief was clear. An unelected 4th branch of government that makes regulations, enforces them, hears violations, and renders judgement? A constitutional abomination.
My gut inclination is to agree with Walsh on the Ethics Commission. My own disenchantment came when the commission ruled, essentially, that government employment can never be considered a corruptible activity itself. If a town solicitor, for example, plays both sides of a trial when a business associate or family member is brought up on some sort of violation before the city or town that he or she serves, then that’s corrupt, but if the business associate is another government employee abusing his or her position, then that’s perfectly fine.
But the peculiarity comes in the fact that government of the progressive, union-dominated type that Walsh prefers is practically built upon unelected agencies making regulations, enforcing them, hearing them as judges, and imposing consequences. The Dept. of Education does this. The Labor Relations Board does, too, as does the Department of Labor and Training and probably every single agency, in its own capacity. This isn’t a problem for progressives; it’s the plan.
That leads me to suspect that Walsh’s real problem with the Ethics Commission is that its makeup and structure may allow it to make decisions from time to time in ways that go against the system that RI insiders prefer. That’s almost enough to make me a modestly enthusiastic, rather than tepid, supporter of the amendment.