Judy Steigler and Politics on the Ethics Commission

By simultaneously running for office and endorsing candidates, is Judy Steigler compromising the work of the ethics commission?

Judy Steigler, Democrat candidate in House District 54, has raised eyebrows for endorsing a fellow Democrat while chairing the Government Ethics Commission. The Bend Bulletin’s James Sinks writes a great story (Subscription Required) on the potential conflict of interest:

“The candidates to be Oregon’s next secretary of state are “” as candidates do “” lining up political supporters as Election Day approaches. Yet two of those four contenders have garnered endorsements that are raising some eyebrows: from members of the powerful Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

“The seven-member committee, appointed by the governor and legislators, keeps an eye on the conduct of public officials and hands down sanctions to those who violate conflict-of-interest laws.

“The chairwoman of the ethics panel, Judy Stiegler, of Bend, has endorsed candidate Sen. Kate Brown, D-Portland.”

Government watchdogs are concerned about ethics commissioners who engage in politics while on the board.

“All these endorsements are on the up and up,” she said, “but they do raise the question of whether or not the criteria for who can be named to the commission have the right balance between politics and knowledge of public service.”

The Bend Bulletin’s editorial board goes further (Subscription Required).

“Ethics commission members are expected to recuse themselves from participating in any issue before the commission that would affect their friends or allies. And we presume Stiegler and Lewis would do so. But that doesn’t mean we are comfortable with members of the ethics commission endorsing candidates.

“We think if someone agrees to serve on the ethics commission, they should set a good example for other public officials in the state. That goes beyond just following the laws and policies. They can’t control what somebody else does on a Web site. They can, though, avoid taking action that raises ethical questions about the ethics commission.”