Section 36-25-2

Legislative findings and declarations; purpose of chapter.

(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares:

(1) It is essential to the proper operation of democratic government that public officials be independent and impartial.

(2) Governmental decisions and policy should be made in the proper channels of the governmental structure.

(3) No public office should be used for private gain other than the remuneration provided by law.

(4) It is important that there be public confidence in the integrity of government.

(5) The attainment of one or more of the ends set forth in this subsection is impaired whenever there exists a conflict of interest between the private interests of a public official or a public employee and the duties of the public official or public employee.

(6) The public interest requires that the law protect against such conflicts of interest and establish appropriate ethical standards with respect to the conduct of public officials and public employees in situations where conflicts exist.

(b) It is also essential to the proper operation of government that those best qualified be encouraged to serve in government. Accordingly, legal safeguards against conflicts of interest shall be so designed as not to unnecessarily or unreasonably impede the service of those men and women who are elected or appointed to do so. An essential principle underlying the staffing of our governmental structure is that its public officials and public employees should not be denied the opportunity, available to all other citizens, to acquire and retain private economic and other interests, except where conflicts with the responsibility of public officials and public employees to the public cannot be avoided.

(c) The Legislature declares that the operation of responsible democratic government requires that the fullest opportunity be afforded to the people to petition their government for the redress of grievances and to express freely to the legislative bodies and to officials of the Executive Branch, their opinions on legislation, on pending governmental actions, and on current issues. To preserve and maintain the integrity of the legislative and administrative processes, it is necessary that the identity, expenditures, and activities of certain persons who engage in efforts to persuade members of the legislative bodies or members of the Executive Branch to take specific actions, either by direct communication to these officials, or by solicitation of others to engage in such efforts, be publicly and regularly disclosed. This chapter shall be liberally construed to promote complete disclosure of all relevant information and to insure that the public interest is fully protected.

(d) It is the policy and purpose of this chapter to implement these objectives of protecting the integrity of all governmental units of this state and of facilitating the service of qualified personnel by prescribing essential restrictions against conflicts of interest in public service without creating unnecessary barriers thereto.

(Acts 1973, No. 1056, p. 1699, §1; Acts 1975, No. 130, §1; Acts 1995, No. 95-194, p. 269, §1.)