McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

Article IV of the California Constitution deals with the Legislature, and there are several sections that are applicable to ethical conduct by members of the Legislature. These provisions are found primarily in Sections 4 and 5 of California’s Constitution.

Article IV, Section 4 contains a prohibition on certain earned income. It essentially prohibits a member of the Legislature from knowingly receiving any form of income, salary, wages, or commissions from a lobbyist or lobbying firm, or from any person who during the previous 12 months had had a contract with the Legislature. Additionally, any member who knowingly receives any salary, wages, commissions, or other earned income from a lobbyist employer may not for a period of one year following the receipt, vote upon, make, participate in making, or in any way attempt to use his or her official position to influence any actions or decisions of the Legislature.

Section 5 of Article IV deals with a prohibition on honorariums – essentially a payment for making a speech, meeting with, writing an article for, etc. some outside group. Section 5 prohibits members of the Legislature from accepting honorariums.

Other parts of California’s Legislative Code of Ethics are found in Title II, Division 2, Part 1, Chapter 1, or Article 2 of California’s Government Code. Government Code section 8920 says, “A member of the Legislature, a state elected or appointed officer, or a judge or justice, may not while serving in that particular position, have any interest financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity, or incur any obligation of any nature that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties.” Government Code Section 8920 also states “A member of the Legislature may not participate by voting or any other action on the floors or in committee or anywhere else for the passage or defeat of Legislation in which he or she has a personal interest,” but there are some specified circumstances that are exceptions to that rule.

Government Code Section 8924 says that an employee of either house of the Legislature is subject to the same prohibitions that members of the Legislature are subject to.

I cover more of the Government Code and constitutional provisions that make up California’s Legislative Code of Ethics in today’s podcast.

You can find a full transcript of today’s podcast here.