Oath of Office for Members of the General Assembly
"I do proudly swear to carry out the responsibilities of the office of State Representative to the best of my ability, freely acknowledging that the powers of this office flow from the people I am privileged to represent. I further swear always to place the public interests above any special or personal interests, and to respect the right of future generations to share the rich historic and natural heritage of Delaware. In doing so I will always uphold and defend the Constitutions of my Country and my State, so help me God."
Article II, Section 20 of the Delaware Constitution states:
“Any member of the General Assembly who has a personal or private interest in any measure or bill pending in the General Assembly shall disclose the fact to the House of which he or she is a member and shall not vote thereon.”
Call for Official Inquiry
This website presents profiles of four Delaware lawmakers who have violated their oath of office "to place the public interests above any special or personal interests" and to uphold our State Constitution which requires them to recuse voting on any bill in which they have a "personal or private interest". FightDECorruption.com is calling for an official inquiry of these four legislators.
Members of the General Assembly have exempted themselves from the “State Employees’, Officers’ and Officials’ Code of Conduct” and from oversight by the Public Integrity Commission (PIC). However, there are other statutes which do apply to the General Assembly including Article II, Section 20 of the Delaware Constitution, which is quoted above.
This link to our Ethics Laws page provides a list of these statutes. Title 11, Chapter 5, Subchapter VI lists a series of “Offenses Against Public Administration” including improper influence, abuse of office and profiteering. The definition section specifies that these statutes apply to “Legislators”. Following each section, are comments in italics regarding the applicability of these statutes to the legislators profiled on this website.
There are also authorities which are empowered to undertake an inquiry of ethics violations including:
The Senate and House Ethics Committees
The Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust in DOJ
The US Attorney for the District of Delaware
FightDECorruption.com will reach out to these authorities and advocate for them to undertake an official inquiry of all four legislators.
We are also advocating for ethics reform legislation in Delaware to create either an Inspector General’s Office or an independent Public Integrity Commission with the resources to investigate and prosecute public corruption. Here’s the link to our policy paper.
Finally, the ultimate remedy for ethically challenged elected officials is often the “court of public opinion”. FightDECorruption.com will advocate for the media to publicize public corruption and educate citizens to demand higher ethical standards.
Time to Take On Corruption in Delaware
Through our recent national traumas, we’ve learned the importance of the rule of law. No one in our society should be above the law including the Delaware General Assembly.
As Thomas Jefferson warned, “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories.”
Our lawmakers have used their lawmaking power to exempt themselves from the section of the Delaware Code known as the “State Employees’, Officers’ and Officials’ Code of Conduct” and from the oversight of the Public Integrity Commission.
In 2015 the Center for Public Integrity gave Delaware an F, ranking the First State 48th in systems to deter corruption in state government. The report characterized ethics enforcement in Delaware as “anemic”.
According to Deborah Moreau, the Delaware Public Integrity Commission’s lawyer, “that leaves the Delaware General Assembly with something of an honor system when it comes to public ethics laws.”
Service in our General Assembly should not be just another rung on the career ladder. Our lawmakers have the power to pass laws and allocate funds of great benefit to themselves, their families, their businesses, and their employers instead of focusing on the needs of constituents.
Many organizations will want to hire powerful legislators. Reasonable limits need to be set to avoid conflicts of interest. Our Ethics laws are a patchwork of fig leaves. Our legislative ethics committees, dominated by leadership, have been rendered inert. Our media is filled with reports of lines openly crossed.
Rhode Island is the same size as Delaware, and the budget for their Public Integrity Commission (PIC) is $1.8 million which supports a staff of twelve. In Delaware, our PIC is budgeted at only 10% of that amount ($187,500) which supports two staff.
Following the Center for Public Integrity’s 2015 report, Senator Bryan Townsend introduced bills in both 2016 and 2017 which would eliminate the exemption of General Assembly members from ethics oversight. These bills didn’t even get a committee hearing.
Having issued reports in 2012 and 2015, the Center for Public Integrity is overdue for another report. Having implemented no reforms, Delaware could rank last this time.
These reports get a lot of press. The 2015 report has been a focus of attention for both legislators and journalists. Ranking last is a blot which lasts for years. Now Delaware has the added pressure of our favorite son winning the Presidency. As the eyes of the world focus on Delaware, a 50th ethics ranking would be magnified in the media. Now is the time for reform in Delaware.
The “Delaware Way” has so permeated the ether of the First State that officials, media and citizens have become numb to it. Enduring unchallenged for so long, the “Delaware Way” has become a culture without shame.