Ethics for Local Government Officials

Related Resources - Publications


Conflicts of Interest Voting Guide for City and County Governing Board Members
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Warehouse Document
State Government Ethics and lobbying Laws: What Does and Does Not Apply to Local Government: Revised through 2013
Norma R. Houston
Saturday, March 1, 2014

This bulletin focuses on changes through 2013 to the North Carolina State Government Ethics Act and the implications of these changes concerning local governments. Local government officials and employees are encouraged to become familiar with these laws to ensure that their continued efforts on behalf of their citizens and communities are carried out in compliance with the laws. 

lglb135.pdf (pdf, 518.78 KB)
Ethics, Conflicts, and Offices: A Guide for Local Officials, Second Edition
A. Fleming Bell, II
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Since this esteemed text was first published in 1997, the General Assembly of North Carolina has made important revisions to conflicts of interest law as well as enacted a law requiring local governments to adopt a code of ethics and local elected officials to receive ethics training and an ethics and lobbying law that, though intended for state officials, has important implications for local governments. This new edition of Ethics, Conflicts, and Offices greatly expands and updates the first version to reflect these significant changes in the law.

Also updated are discussions of ethics in public life, multiple and incompatible office-holding, and legal cases, and numerous sample codes of ethics that can be used as guides in drafting local codes of conduct.

"Ethics, Conflicts, and Offices: A Guide to Local Officials is a valuable and timely resource for new and experienced local government officials as they strive to comply with the letter and spirit of their ethical obligations. It provides a thoughtful, in-depth analysis of the philosophical, legal, and practical aspects of ethics in public life, and helpful guidance on key issues such as conflicts of interest, multiple office-holding, and drafting an ethics code."

Kimberly Hibbard
General Counsel
North Carolina League of Municipalities

"Fleming Bell has done it again. The second edition of Ethics, Conflicts, and Offices is important reading for public officials, government staff, and government attorneys. Bell writes clearly and engagingly and offers true-to-life scenarios about ethics challenges that may face government officials and staff. As a result, he draws readers into deeper reflection about the interplay of ethical principles and relationships. 

Whether you want deeper insight about core principles underlying 'public ethics' or a quick refresher on the evolution and current legal requirements relating to conflicts of interest, confidentiality, and dual office-holding, this is the book for you. I know I'll value it as part of my own library."

Judith Welch Wegner
Burton Craige Professor of Law and Dean emerita
The University of North Carolina School of Law

"We live in a time of intense scrutiny of the behavior of those in public service, and in a time of concerted efforts to restore trust between those who govern and those who are governed. For these reasons, it is particularly important that we attend to and try to understand the principles, standards, and ideals discussed in this book. All of us who serve in elective or appointed positions of public service, and those who contemplate such service, should be prepared to analyze these principles and their underlying premises."

James B. Blackburn
Legislative Counsel (Retired)
North Carolina Association of County Commissioners

A Model Code of Ethics for North Carolina Local Elected Officials with Guidelines and Appendixes (print version)
A. Fleming Bell, II
Friday, April 30, 2010

In 2009, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law requiring all North Carolina cities, counties, local boards of education, unified governments, sanitary districts, and consolidated city-counties to adopt a resolution or policy containing a code of ethics to guide actions by the governing board members in the performance of their official duties as members of that governing board. Each governing board must adopt its resolution or policy by January 1, 2011.

This guidebook, the second title in the Local Government Board Builders Series, is intended to help local elected boards and their staffs develop codes of ethics that meet the requirements of this statute. It includes a Model Code with optional provisions, as well as commentary and discussion questions that boards are encouraged to use in developing and interpreting their own codes. The book is designed to be clear and unambiguous, simple, and easy to read and use.

A PDF version of this publication is available for purchase at this link.

See the Local Government Board Builders Series webpage for other books in the series and related School of Government publications.

Public Officials - Local and State Government Roles