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May 2016 BEGA newsletter



Office of Government Ethics
Darrin P. Sobin, Director
Ashley D. Cooks, Attorney

Volume 3 
Issue 5
May 2016

              Ethically Speaking       

                  The BEGA/OGE Newsletter            

Message from the Director ― The Technology Rat

I really hated the book “1984”, which depicted a near future in which all of our activities were monitored by surveillance cameras.  That was bad enough, but I don’t think even the author, George Orwell, could have predicted the type of surveillance technology available today.  With respect to ethics investigations, technology has become a very effective tool for proving Code of Conduct violations.  For instance, I was amazed when an employee acted surprised that a District Fleet Share vehicle the employee had been using recorded all vehicle use including driving routes and destinations – not just mileage – when the vehicle was improperly used to attend horse-back riding lessons in West Virginia.
Or, when an employee discovered that there was a record of every website visited using his government desktop computer.
Or, when BEGA investigators learned that we have the capability to pull just about all data from a government cell phone, even deleted items.
And don’t even get me going on surveillance video, which seems to be at every government building entrance and garage. 
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a privacy advocate as much as the next person.  But none of us should expect privacy when we are using taxpayer funded equipment.  Why?  For the simple reason that the equipment doesn’t belong to us.

​  Regards,
​- Darrin P. Sobin, Director of Government Ethics


BEGA Happenings ―

Financial Disclosure Statement (FDS) filing deadline is May 16, 2016.

Enforcement Matters ―

An employee agreed to pay a fine of $1,500 for violation of the no representation rule and for using public office for private gain when the employee attempted to assist a private entity, in which she also served as a board member, with a matter pending before an agency over which her office had oversight.  View Details

Ethics In the News ―

Virginia Ethics Panel Struggles with Gifts Question  Read more

North Dakota Ethics Panel Gives the OK to Judicial Candidates to Use Facebook Read more

South Carolina Senate Passes a Bill Which Allows Ethics Investigations of Officials Read more

Rhode Island Governor’s Chief of Staff Recused From Matters Concerning Online Daily Fantasy Football Read more

Good to Know – Hatch Act-
District employees are permitted to host “Meet & Greet” events (usually a gathering of neighbors at a private home) for District candidates, but are prohibited from fundraising for them. Make sure your “Meet & Greet” event does not turn into a fundraiser. Check with BEGA before you agree to host such an event.


If you have any questions, we can be reached at 202-481-3411, or through our website at