Date Submitted: 6/16/2020
Proper disclosure vs. taking credit for behind-the-scenes policy advice
Since you were directly involved in helping create this piece of legislation, it’s great that you’re getting a gut check on any potential ethical issues that might arise from further public-facing engagement on the legislation itself. In this case, though, I don’t see any ethical red flags. You were part of the legislative drafting process in your capacity as an expert and, in my view, that same expert capacity is a perfectly reasonable and worthwhile perspective from which to comment on the legislation. It would be courteous to inform the legislative staff that you plan to comment. It would also be right, I think, to disclose your involvement in the drafting process in any public writing on the legislation itself. That would help to prevent against any possible allegation of conflict of interest, even though I don’t think such criticism could be fairly leveled here. Your perspective as an expert on this topic has clearly been valuable in the policy (legislative) process and, in my view, it would be doubly so in any public writing you engaged in to help explain the context and consequences of the legislation.
I don’t see a problem with writing something about the benefits of the legislation. The key, in my view, is being transparent about your involvement. I would suggest taking advantage of that to say not only what would change and what it means for your field, but also why you saw fit to work on this. I would simply be honest about what drew you to support the process. Letting staff know you are writing something might be good, though, and I would avoid anything that sounds like you are taking credit.