Tester publishes unprecedented ethics report online

Retired Montana Supreme Court Judge gives Senator high marks in ethics evaluation

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – After poring over records and documents a retired Montana Supreme Court judge has released an unprecedented ethics evaluation on Senator Jon Tester, saying the Senator and his staff have operated ethically over the past year.

Tester again set a precedent in Congress by publishing the entire six-page report, written by retired Montana Supreme Court Judge John Sheehy, online.  The report is available at http://tester.senate.gov/Newsroom/upload/tester_ethics.pdf.

"For the present we can find assurance in that Senator Tester has opened the business of his office to daily inspection, and has provided rules of practice for his staff to assure ethical behavior," Sheehy's report concludes.

Sheehy wrote his report after thoroughly examining Tester's office records during the past year.  Tester said in 2006 he would ask a third party to regularly review the ethics of his office.

"We're blazing down a trail here," said Tester, who was the first U.S. Senator to post his daily schedule online.  "Honest, open government is the best government, and it's what Montanans expect."

Using the Senate's Code of Ethics as a basis, Sheehy reviewed numerous documents including Tester's personal financial disclosure forms, his complete daily schedule for the year, his appropriations and his travel records.  Sheehy also had a copy of Tester's own ethics policy, which is more strict than the Senate's.

Sheehy's report specifically weighs in on Tester's

  • Daily schedule: "One can see from the schedules how the Senator spent each day, in hearings on the floor, or Member meetings, and how the remainder of his day was split into quarter-hour segments in which he met constituents, other senators, or others interested in the Senate business.  Staff assignments are listed.  Even drop-by visitors are recorded."
  • Personal finances: "None of (Tester's farm) holdings would create a conflict of interest in agricultural legislation, even as to farm bills directed in general to all farm operations, and not specifically to him or to a closed class to which he might belong."
  • Appropriations requests: Tester's requests "appear laudable, coming from every corner of Montana, relating to wastewater, water quality, land acquisition, species preservation, forests and so on."
  • Office expenses

  • Franked mail

  • Rules for employees

  • Hiring practices

  • Political Action Committees

Tester said Sheehy "didn't find any red flags" in the ethics report, but added that "there's always room to make government more transparent and accountable."