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Marsh introduces AG’s ethics overhaul

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A long-anticipated proposed update of the state’s ethics code from Attorney General Steve Marshall has been introduced in the Alabama Legislature.

Senate President Del Marsh today filed SB383, sweeping legislation drafted by the Attorney General’s office and intended to clear up confusion and close potential loopholes in the law governing how public officials conduct themselves.

The Attorney General’s office has been conducting a line-by-line review of the code to prepare changes for more than a year, spanning back to when former Attorney General Luther Strange was in office.

According to the legislative synopsis, the bill aims to:

  • reaffirm and clarify that public officials cannot be lobbyists nor serve as consultants for businesses that have any interests before the Legislature;
  • “revise the definition of a principal” to clarify what non-government officials the law’s requirements apply to and which it does not;
  • “create the crime of extortion of a public official or public employee by persons attempting to corruptly influence the action of a public official or public employee;”
  • exempt lower-profile public employees like teachers and police officers from certain requirements and prohibitions in order to focus the law on elected officials and high-level government employees who are better positioned to use their office for personal gain; and
  • “revise the definition of thing of value to specify the circumstances in which gifts, proceeds from the sale of property, and prospective or actual compensation from an employer are not a thing of value.”

Marsh said he filed the legislation at the request of the Attorney General so that lawmakers could see the various changes being proposed.

“I introduced this bill on behalf of the Attorney General and I encourage my colleagues to review the bill and offer feedback,” he said.

The full text of the bill is available online HERE.

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