Following is a paraphrase of a comment recorded last election cycle which raises questions still fully applicable now:
“With election season approaching I think it is time to address an ongoing problem that has exploded here locally, the potential conflict of interest by public and elected officials. Certainly on a national level it makes the news almost daily causing most voters to reel back in total disgust. But what happens to our moral standards when we know the candidate as a friend or associate? Does this compromise our moral judgment?
Clearly Minnesota statutes forbid conflict of interest, but how is a violation dealt with? The correct way would be to report the violation to the State Attorney General, who would then have staff rewrite the complaint and present it in proper form back to the County Attorney for his or her discretion on the need to prosecute. Just the nature of the process gives the County Attorney pause to consider who will be offended if the charge moves forward, as well as whether or not the alleged offender may retaliate against the County Attorney’s office. Then we have to address the situation of the alleged offender being a close friend or family member of the County Attorney. As you can see, the path to punishment of offenders is could be quite difficult.”
What do you think? How do we prevent this potential problem? Do we need to just focus on voting on candidates who show no signs of potential conflict of interest and who will pledge to eliminate this potential to the best of their ability?