Conflict of Interest in American Public Life

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Harvard University Press, Sep 1, 2003 - Law - 352 pages
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Ranging over a wide array of cases, Andrew Stark draws on legal, moral, and political thought--as well as the rhetoric of officeholders and the commentary of journalists--to analyze several decades of debate over conflict of interest in American public life. He offers new ways of interpreting the controversies about conflict of interest, explains their prominence in American political combat, and suggests how we might make them less venomous and intractable.

Stark shows that over the past forty years public opinion has shifted steadily toward an objective conception of conflict: instead of considering case-by-case motivations, we have adopted broadly prophylactic rules barring a variety of circumstances with no regard for whether individuals facing those circumstances would be moved in culpable ways. At the same time, we have shifted toward a subjective conception of interest: where we once focused narrowly on money, we now inquire into various commitments individuals might pursue in ways that could impair their judgment.

In exploring the consequences of these twin migrations--the passage of "conflict" from a subjective to an objective understanding; the transformation of "interest" from an objective to a subjective conception--the author aims to make our debates over public ethics less vexatious for officials, and more lucid for citizens.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Conflict
2
The Perils of Prophylactic Law
21
The Topography of Conflict
36
SelfDealing
41
Undue Influence
51
Abuse of Office
60
Private Payment for Public Acts
68
Limousine Liberals CountryClub Conservatives
125
On Character in American Politics
142
SelfGenerated versus OtherImposed Encumbrances on Judgment
148
Quid Pro Quo and Campaign Finance
152
Ex Parte Contacts
184
The Meaning of The Appearance
207
Appearance Standard
213
Appearance Standard
223

Private Gain from Public Office
74
I
96
II
105
Summary
115
Interest 10 Interest Bias and Ideology
119
Recusal Divestiture Balance
235
Conclusion
263
Notes
273
Index
323
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About the author (2003)

Andrew Stark is Professor of Strategic Management and Political Science, University of Toronto.

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