Reprinted with permission from the July 2007 issue of Public Management (PM)
magazine published by ICMA, the premier local government leadership and management
organization, Washington, D.C.
Test your knowledge of the ICMA Code of Ethics and advice. Answers and explanations
are provided in this magazine.
1. The county council has asked me to raise funds for the
Arts in the Parks festival this summer. As the county manager, can I raise funds
for this cause?
2. I am the city manager, and my husband was active in community
affairs before we married. He was the district attorney when we met, and he recently
filed papers to run for the state legislature. Although I have explained that I cannot
make financial contributions to his campaign or publicly endorse him, one aspect of his
campaign platform advocates saving open space by purchasing it with state funds. Last
year, I spoke at numerous public events to promote the city's ballot measure to purchase
open space and parklands. Our city is considered a model by many observers. My husband
plans to distribute copies of my land conservation speeches at his campaign events. Is
this a violation of the ICMA Code of Ethics?
3. I've been asked to lend my name to various products and services. Which ones are ethical for me to support?
A recycling partnership program that the city has with a private company.
A book on leadership published by a friend.
An ICMA University workshop.
All of the above.
None of the above.
1. Yes, but use good judgment. Tenet 12 of the ICMA Code of Ethics and its guideline on
gifts remind members to avoid soliciting money if the individual or the individual's
organization might view the contribution as a favor and expect special treatment from
the member in the future. Members should exercise good judgment and refrain from
soliciting funds from a business if the business has a specific issue that may be
coming before the local government in the near future for action or a decision.
Members should not make direct requests of their subordinates to donate because
that may create a situation in which employees feel uncomfortable or even coerced
into making a donation. It is appropriate for members to provide employees with
information about the cause and give them an opportunity to donate if they so choose.
In raising funds for this local government project, members should be as open and transparent
about their efforts as possible. They are advised to:
2. No, it is not a violation. Your public speeches and articles can be distributed by
any candidate for office with or without your permission. The ICMA Code of Ethics does
not prevent family members from running for office, although their political activities
may disturb some members of the city council. You can try to minimize their concerns by
talking with them about your husband's plans and explaining your responsibility as a
professional city manager to stay out of political activities. As you already told your husband,
Tenet 7 of the ICMA Code of Ethics does not permit you to raise money, endorse, or make
donations to candidates for elected office-even if the candidate is your husband.
Obtain governing body approval for the fund-raising effort.
Provide clear guidance and direction to staff who may be engaged in fund raising.
Publicly announce that a fund-raising campaign is under way and outline in writing the parameters of the campaign.
Regularly report on the sources and amounts of donated funds and services.
3. D, all of the above. Tenet 12 of the ICMA Code of Ethics has a guideline on endorsements
that reminds members not to endorse any commercial products or services. Members, however,
may endorse the following as long as they do not receive any compensation: (1) books or
other publications; (2) professional development or educational services provided by
nonprofit membership organizations or recognized educational institutions; and (3) products
or services, or both, in which the local government has a direct economic interest.
ICMA Members who need confidential advice on ethics issues, wish to file an ethics complaint,
or want to offer ethics training for their organization are encouraged to contact Martha Perego,
ICMA Director of Ethics, at 202-962-3668 or firstname.lastname@example.org.