NEW YORK STATE – New York State’s government has faced big scandals over the past year alone. In an effort to help restore public faith, the state budget included a new ethics commission to replace the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, also known as JCOPE.
“I said ethical governing would be a hallmark in my administration. That we’d change the culture here in Albany. I am proud that this budget bill has done that work. Let’s talk about Government oversight. One way we can restore trust in Government is to address the existing system. I will be repealing the structurally broken system of Joint Commission on public Ethics,” says Governor Kathy Hochul.
Instead, it will be replaced with a new ethics commission made up of 11 members will be nominated by the Governor, Senate, Assembly Comptroller, and Attorney General.
“The governor gets 3 picks on the 11 person board. Why is that? Why do each of the majority leaders in both houses — get two and everyone else gets one? Why do they get more picks, other than it becomes more transparent that this is really a reflection of political power not independence in ethics,” says NYPIRG Blair Horner.
The nominees for the commission will be reviewed by Law School Deans in an effort to increase transparency, but some say this isn’t enough.
“They will do what they believe is get rid of people that present obvious conflicts of issue. The problem is, that when you go into the vetting process, they don’t have the tools to make a good investigation,
says Albany Law School Professor Michael Hutter.
Hutter pointing to the scandal with the Lt. Governor.
“He was vetted apparently by the state police. As he said, a very lengthy investigation process. They didn’t come up with this. Now how can law school deans accomplish something that the state police couldn’t uncover?” says Hutter.
Assembly Minority Leader, Will Barclay says the only way to have true ethics reform is to have an equal bipartisan body.
“Because it’s in the interest of Democrats to hold republicans accountable and it’s in the interest of republicans to hold democrats accountable,” says Barclay.