Finished reading The Appearance of Impropriety: How the Ethics Wars Have Undermined American Government, Business, and Society, by Peter W. Morgan and Glenn Reynolds.
The thesis, in brief, is that the Watergate era spawned a lot of formal ethical claptrap, the announced purpose of which was to remove "even the appearance of impropriety," but the actual result of which was a fog of ethical confusion. People get prosecuted for mere appearances despite having done nothing really wrong, and other people commit gross ethical violations while hiding behind the fact that they followed the official ethical check list.
Beware of confusingly detailed ethical rules
designed to play the innocent for fools.
- The Appearance Of Impropriety