Today’s post is on ethics for legislative staff.
Just like California legislators, who are bound by laws and codes of conduct, there are also guides for the conduct of legislative staff as they serve these elected officials and the public. For example, the National Conference of State Legislatures – NCSL – has published a model code of conduct for legislative staff. This comprehensive guide is an invaluable resource for legislative staff across the country.
The purpose of this code of conduct is to provide guidance to legislative staff so that they can better serve the public and legislative branch of state government. These staffers are invaluable to the legislative process and the institution itself. But they are also public servants, just like the elected legislators for whom they work. And just like these legislators, staff too are there to carry out the mission of the Legislature. They have a relationship of trust to the institution and the public generally.
In that regard, staff must conduct themselves appropriately towards legislators, the public, lobbyists, and their fellow staff members. Any code of conduct must detail how legislative staff should conduct themselves so that the public trust is always protected. In addition to any code of conduct, there are relevant state laws that apply to staff such as the California Government Code that provides extensive guidance to public employees.
While many of the prohibitions in the Government Code may seem obvious, they are important for staff to keep in mind as they perform their valuable public service while working in the California State Legislature. In reviewing the NCSL’s model code, it provides a number of helpful guides to legislative staff.