Standard view: Tester sets good example

Retired Montana District Court Judge Gordon Bennett took on an interesting summer reading project. He volunteered to review the office policies and records of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., to see if the senator and his staff were walking the walk — conducting all business in accordance with the ethics policy Tester instituted on the same day he took office in January 2007.

Overall, the judge was pleased with what he found, but it’s also reassuring to know he proffered some constructive criticism as well. A rubber-stamp report would have raised red flags. Nothing’s perfect.

Early on in his four-page report, dated Aug. 12, Bennett pointed out how impossible it would be for any government employee to command a grasp of the many-thousand pages of Senate ethics rules and regulations. Then he commended the senator for solving the information-overload problem by creating an office manual with “simple and usable guidelines for ethical conduct by his staff.”

The judge doesn’t like the list of exceptions to the policy on accepting gifts. Nor does he think relatives of congressional members or their staffers should ever work as lobbyists, as is allowed under Tester’s policy.

But overall, he commended the senator for demonstrating “exceptional leadership and dedication in establishing a new and more effective system of ethics development and control for his offices.”

Read the whole article >>