The performance of public officials comes under routine scrutiny in Texas. When assessing the work of an official, ethics laws become the central measuring stick. Everyone who receives a public-service role has a responsibility to the public they serve. Ethics is often related to how someone manages their own interest versus the public they serve. Ethics, however, goes beyond written law, for virtue and integrity will ethically avoid bad conflicts of interests.
Accepting or soliciting gifts
When public servants accept gifts, they open themselves up to outside influences. The authority an official has can be sought after by private interest. Private individuals, however, can distract officials from considering the larger public. The ethical consequences of bribery are even more severe when the public official solicits gifts in exchange for abusing their authority.
Exposing confidential information
Public officials are mandated to refrain from memberships, acquaintances or employment that asks for confidential information. The data these officials deal with is sensitive, and they take oaths of office for confidentiality. Their oath is for allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and the people it serves. Public officials must specifically be aware of sharing information related to their jobs.
Engaging in opposing employment
The priorities of a public official might be influenced if that official engages in work outside of their office. Public servants remove themselves from businesses and other employment depending on their legislative role. Conflicts of interest do arise when the side work of an official begins to impair their judgment. Though it’s difficult to foresee, there might be moral conflicts that would cause a dispute should an official engage in an opposing enterprise.
Ethics laws in Texas
Any time an official’s interests are in conflict with the public’s, an ethical breach has occurred. The objective of public servants is to serve the people. Actions that benefit an official at the expense of the public break the law. The work of many public officials is already compensated. These candidates can’t charge members of the public for their services as an official.