When longtime UNLV ethics professor Craig Walton died in 2007, Nevada lost its highest-profile personification of conscience and common sense.
In the years since his passing, the Ethics and Policy Studies master’s degree program he founded at the university has stopped accepting new students, and the nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog he launched and operated in retirement, the Nevada Center for Public Ethics, lost its mojo.
Nevada officials, meanwhile, were subjected to significantly less scrutiny.
Today, somewhere, Mr. Walton is smiling. His passion for ethical government and public policy is being revived.
Martin Dean Dupalo, a local political science professor and community activist, is the new president of the Nevada Center for Public Ethics. Mr. Dupalo aspires to make the center as relevant as it was when Mr. Walton’s name was in the news every week, providing perspective on why an official’s behavior was unethical and what would right a wrong.
“A public office is a public trust,” Mr. Dupalo told the Review-Journal. “I am constantly amazed by the things politicians do that are obviously unethical to the general public, but they seem oblivious.”
Mr. Dupalo, 44, is constructing the center’s website, where he hopes to build an educational archive of news stories about ethics issues and make complaint forms available. Beyond advocating for ethical government through the media, he intends to lobby for legislation that promotes government transparency and ethical behavior. The center’s top priority for the 2013 Legislature: a law that requires lobbyists to report what they spend on legislators year-round.
As Mr. Dupalo settles into his new job, we offer him one bit of advice: Provide those opinions with the same conviction, clarity and black-and-white directness as Mr. Walton did. Contrary to what many politicians believe, there are exceptionally few gray areas when it comes to ethics. The more people willing to call them on that, the merrier.