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Code of Ethics
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 Code of Ethics

To promote and retain the highest standards of association management and public service, the following Code of Ethical Conduct has been adopted by the Board of Directors of the Illinois Society of Association Executives for the professional conduct of its members and the activities of its own association board.

Adherence to these standards is required for membership in the Society, and serves to assure the confidence of the public, our member organizations, and government officials with which our Society members liaison in the integrity and professionalism of association executives.

As a member of the Illinois Society of Association Executives, I pledge to:

  1. Promote and encourage the highest level of professional ethics within the industry or profession that my association represents.
  2. Maintain loyalty to the association that employs me, and pursue its objectives in ways consistent with that field's professional interests as well as the public interest.
  3. Recognize and discharge my responsibilities and that of my association, to uphold all laws and regulations relating to my association's policies and activities.
  4. Strive for excellence in all aspects of management of my association, including support and recognition by my association co-workers and both personal and professional respect for all other association employees.
  5. Serve all members of my association impartially, providing no special privilege to any individual member and accepting no personal compensation or gift from a member except with the knowledge and consent of my association's governing board.
  6. Maintain the confidentiality of privileged information entrusted or known to me by virtue of my office.
  7. Refuse to engage in, or countenance, activities for personal gain at the expense of my association or for its industry or profession.
  8. Use every opportunity to improve public and governmental understanding of the role of associations and the role associations play in policy development within the industry or profession as well as in public policy education and formulation.
  9. Cooperate in every reasonable and proper way with other association executives, and work with them towards the advancement of the profession association management.

In addition, the Society has an addendum applicable to lobbying ethics and campaign ethics. These are statements of policy that guide our ethical conduct in lobbying, and for those associations active in political affairs present our position on the appropriate role of associations and association PACs in political affairs.

For retaining the positive identification as members of the Society, ISAE members may file a complaint against a fellow member or bring to the attention of the Board a matter that may bear on acceptance of a prospective member. Pursuant to Article III, Section 5, the ISAE Bylaws address the complaint process and member removal process.

Adopted by the ISAE Board of Directors on May 29, 1998.

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Recommended Guidelines for Lobbying and Campaign Ethics for
Illinois Society of Association Executives Members

Lobbying and political campaign activities are constitutionally protected facets of free speech, elements of a democratic society as well as traditional roles for industrial and professional associations. In some instances, statewide associations lobby and orchestrate industry and professional PACs as a primary function of their organizations. Public officials and legislative staff rely upon ISAE associations to educate them as to the citizenry and business sector impacts of the various public policies that are under consideration as proposed legislation or as proposed administrative agency rules and regulations.

In many states, partisan political interests dominate in the few months before primary elections and again for the three months prior to general elections. For the rest of the year, members of the state legislature are barely discernable by party label as all legislators act as one body debating and voting for the public interest and the highest aspirations of quality state government services allowable within budgetary limitations. ISAE supports such a de-emphasis on partisan and regional politics, and supports having its members contribute most of their PAC funds during the two months prior to primary elections and the three months prior to general elections. For the rest of the two-year period, governmental issues and needs should dominate and politics put aside as much as practically possible.

As general guidelines for ethical conduct in lobbying and in political activities, ISAE members are asked to subscribe to the following standards and public policies:

Information shared during the lobbying process shall be truthful, complete, and no misrepresent the positions of persons or organizations on the other side of an issue. All position papers and information sheets shall bear the name of the initiating organization and a contact name and number or address where the contact person may be reached.

Lobbying is an honorable activity, and should be conducted as such. Opponents of positions of associations, whether other interest groups or public officials and staff, shall be always be treated with respect. PAC support should never be contingent upon a vote for or against a particular bill or amendment. PAC contributions for a candidate should be based on personal philosophy, or long-term trends of policy support or opposition for an association's members.

Reporting of overall lobbying expenses by associations and non-profit organizations should follow the same format and depth of reporting already included on Federal and State 990 forms being filed with the IRS, federal and state elections commissions and boards, the Index Division of the Secretary of State's Office, and the Illinois Attorney General's Office. All lobbying and campaign reports should be accountable by signature only, dropping the archaic notary public requirement for expenditure reports and anywhere else this notary public requirement appears.

"Soft money" services or association staff assigned to political efforts should be as fully disclosed as hard money PAC donations. Such "soft money" donations and free standing "parallel interest" spending by outside groups shall all count toward any self-imposed spending ceiling in a particular race, and disclosed in advance to a candidate. It is up to the candidates to direct non-controlled "parallel interest" groups not to run ads or otherwise spend funds in their districts if a voluntarily set spending limit is imposed on all major party candidates.

The perception that campaign contributions are a part of lobbying must be addressed, even if generally not true. Incumbents and office seekers, including their staffs, should not personally solicit or accept contributions from associations, corporations or organizations receiving grants or contracts with the State, or from PAC committees representing such groups during the legislative session or within two weeks prior to or following adjournment. PACs and other political contributions should not be solicited or received in any government offices or buildings.

Persons of businesses that contract with the State should fully disclose that fact on their campaign contributions form identifying themselves, listing state agency or office with which they contract over a minimum disclosure public funding amount. With such disclosure, receiving grants and contracts should not be a bar to participating in the elections process through campaign contributions for industrial and professional organizations.

Collecting data on lobbying activities and expenses is information gathering on the right to petition the government, and therefore such data collection should be barred under the federal Constitution. This is private corporate data of ISAE members, and not appropriate for State disclosure or regulation. Lobbyist reporting should continue to be by employers of lobbyists, aggregating all lobbyist team activities with regards to expenditures made on the behalf of public officials. Violations of lobbying laws and regulations should incur a monetary fine for the employer association or company, and a specific time period ban on lobbying imposed on the individual lobbyist at fault.

Trips offered to public officials should continue to be allowed, as long as fully reported. Educational and trade missions, such as to other states or countries to learn about health care systems and human services or urban development, should be able to be funded and reported. Pure golf outings, vacation travel, and sporting events attendance should be treated as gifts and so reported, as opposed to legitimate subsidized educational and trade missions that benefit the State by educating public officials. In the absence of an approving travel board, the federal IRS standard of at least four hours a day of public policy focus should be incorporated in the reporting form to distinguish educational travel from leisure travel.

The use of campaign funds should be permitted for community service projects and donations to area charitable functions. Politics is a reflection of area community values, and political candidates should not be barred from community affairs.

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