Campbell Public Affairs Institute, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University
Carey Institute for Government Reform, Wagner College
Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity, Columbia Law School Citizens Union
New York City Bar Association
Committee to Reform the State Constitution
Common Cause/New York
League of Women Voters of the State of New York
New York Public Interest Research Group
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS RELEASE 50-STATE REVIEW OF STATES’ ETHICS BOARDS
GROUPS URGE NEW YORK ACTION TO REPLACE JCOPE, LEC, AND ADD ETHICS MEASURE TO STATE CONSTITUTION
(Albany, N.Y.) New York’s ethics watchdogs were found to be among the very weakest in the nation when it comes to their independence and public accountability, according to a nationwide survey of states’ ethics commission released by a coalition of civic groups.
The survey reviewed each state’s ethics commissions and compared it to New York’s. The overall finding of the review was that “Few, if any, other states have ethics watchdogs so completely compromised by lack of independence, partisanship, lack of transparency and the other failings described.” To bolster the survey’s findings, the organizations cited a recent review of state’s ethics laws by the Center for Public Integrity. CPI found New York’s ethics oversight to be lacking, giving New York a grade of “F” for its oversight. The results of the survey are attached.
In a letter to the state’s elected leaders, the groups urged action this session on a constitutional amendment that would add an ethics section as well as create a truly independent and publicly accountable ethics watchdog. The letter is also attached.
The Anti-Corruption Amendment (Senate bill 594/Assembly bill 1282) would create the Commission on State Government Integrity (the “Integrity Commission”) to replace the Joint Commission On Public Ethics and the Legislative Ethics Commission. These two bodies lack the independence needed to be effective enforcers of ethics laws.
In many states all three branches, legislative, executive and judicial, make ethics commission appointments. This is the case in New York only for the Commission on Judicial Conduct, which is a well-regarded enforcer of judicial ethics created in the State Constitution. A majority of the members of the Integrity Commission would be appointed by the judiciary and only a minority by the bodies being regulated.
Contact information for the groups:
Campbell Public Affairs Institute, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University: Grant Reeher, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Carey Institute for Government Reform, Wagner College, Stephen Greenwald 718 420 7131; Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity, Columbia Law School: Berit Berger, 212 854 8379;
Citizens Union, Rachel Bloom, 917 579 2727
Committee on Government Ethics and State Affairs, New York City Bar Association: Eric Friedman, 212 382 6754;
Committee to Reform the State Constitution: Evan Davis, 212 534 5876
Common Cause/New York: Susan Lerner, 212 691 8421;
League of Women Voters of the State of New York: Laura Bierman, 518 465 4162;
New York Public Interest Research Group: Blair Horner, 518 727 4506.
Reinvent Albany: Alex Camarda, 917 388 9087
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