Legislative Ethics Need Honor Code Like U.S. Military AcademyIdaho’s legislature has a crisis in confidence following numerous ethical lapses on the part of members–some have been convicted, some have lost leadership roles, and others have lost face.
On the third day of the 2013 session they have devoted considerable time to “ethics training,” and they hired outside counsel.
The GUARDIAN has offered perhaps the easiest and most logical solution in the form of the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) HONOR CODE. The code says “a Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” The code in some form has served the Academy since 1802 with the final tweak adopted in 1970 to “not tolerate those who do.”
We have suggested the plan to a Senator and a Representative–both Dems–who scoffed at the suggestion and walked away.
It seems like a pretty simple ethics policy for the members of the Idaho House and Senate to adopt. Just change “cadet” to “member” and it’s ready to adopt.
Three rules of thumb:
1. Does this action attempt to deceive anyone or allow anyone to be deceived?
2. Does this action gain or allow the gain of privilege or advantage to which I or someone else would not otherwise be entitled?
3. Would I be dissatisfied by the outcome if I were on the receiving end of this action?
We would suggest they use modified guidelines similar to West Point when it comes to adjudicating violations. They are tried by a jury of their peers (ethics committee). If they are found guilty, the case will go up to the (full House or Senate) who will give a recommendation to either impose sanctions (strip the member of committee assignments) or recommend impeachment.
Definitions of the tenets of the Honor Code:
LYING: Cadets violate the Honor Code by lying if they deliberately deceive another by stating an untruth or by any direct form of communication to include the telling of a partial truth and the vague or ambiguous use of information or language with the intent to deceive or mislead.
CHEATING: A violation of cheating would occur if a Cadet fraudulently acted out of self-interest or assisted another to do so with the intent to gain or to give an unfair advantage. Cheating includes such acts as plagiarism (presenting someone else’s ideas, words, data, or work as one’s own without documentation), misrepresentation (failing to document the assistance of another in the preparation, revision, or proofreading of an assignment), and using unauthorized notes.
STEALING: The wrongful taking, obtaining, or withholding by any means from the possession of the owner or any other person any money, personal property, article, or service of value of any kind, with intent to permanently deprive or defraud another person of the use and benefit of the property, or to appropriate it to either their own use or the use of any person other than the owner.
TOLERATION: Cadets violate the Honor Code by tolerating if they fail to report an unresolved incident with honor implications to proper authority within a reasonable length of time. “Proper authority” includes the Commandant, the Assistant Commandant, the Director of Military Training, the Athletic Director, a tactical officer, teacher or coach. A “reasonable length of time” is the time it takes to confront the Cadet candidate suspected of the honor violation and decide whether the incident was a misunderstanding or a possible violation of the Honor Code. A reasonable length of time is usually considered not to exceed 24 hours.
To have violated the honor code, a Cadet must have lied, cheated, stolen, or attempted to do so, or tolerated such action on the part of another Cadet. The procedural element of the Honor System examines the two elements that must be present for a Cadet to have committed an honor violation: the act and the intent to commit that act. The latter does not mean intent to violate the Honor Code, but rather the intent to commit the act itself.