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Ethics Tutorial - Colorado General Assembly

- Conflict-of-interest and voting on legislation - 1 of 25


Legislator's financial interest in legislation arising from benefits from legislation accruing to spouse
A bill is being considered by the General Assembly that would provide comprehensive state assistance to promote biotechnological research within the state as well as related commercial applications. The assistance includes tax benefits and the establishment of a special state fund and a new grants program. You are a member of the General Assembly and your spouse is a well-known and well-recognized research scientist who heads a special institute for biotechnological research at one of our state's leading research universities. Under the bill, state financial assistance would be directed to a variety of public and private entities but significant resources would be particularly directed to the institute headed by your spouse. It is likely the benefits from the bill would have the effect of increasing the institute's budget and your spouse's national profile and income.

May you vote on the legislation?


Incorrect answer:YES.  With sluggish economic growth, the legislation is vital for creating jobs and members need to put aside their private qualms about ethics and enact good programs is INCORRECT.
red xWhether or not any particular piece of legislation has merit on public policy grounds is irrelevant to the ethical duty incumbent upon all members to analyze carefully and thoughtfully any potential conflicts of interest in connection with each vote cast as a member of the General Assembly and to follow all applicable requirements if that analysis leads to the conclusion that a conflict of interest is present. If the facts demonstrate that a conflict of interest is present, you are required by law to disclose the conflict and abstain from voting. Where a conflict of interest is present, disclosure and abstention does not indicate merely private qualms but compliance with the ethical requirement you are obligated to follow as a member of the General Assembly.

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Last updated: 09 OCT 2015

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