For Immediate Release
Monday, September 26, 2022
Groups’ Recommendations Would Improve Enforcement, Transparency,
In a letter to the new members of the NYS State Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government, watchdog groups said that the creation of the new Commission provides the opportunity to “reset” public and state officers and employees’ expectations about state ethics oversight.
The groups asked the Commissioners to do the following:
- Clearly firewall Commissioners from the elected officials (or their representatives) who appointed them (prohibit ex parte communications).
- Fully use the Commission’s powers under state law to fulfill the Commission’s mission of restoring public trust in state government.
- Pursue enforcement matters promptly, including previous Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) matters.
- Reexamine current protocols and procedures regarding advisory opinions to avoid abuse of authority (such as by requiring Commission approval of all opinions regarding agency heads and statewide elected officials).
- Appoint an Executive Director after a nationwide search.
- Ensure state workers feel confident in reporting allegations of misconduct.
- Require trauma-informed harassment training for all Commissioners and senior staff.
- Increase transparency and access to public information through use of open data for financial disclosure reports, improving the lobbying database, collaborating with the Attorney General’s New York Open Government portal, and developing clear guidelines regarding disclosing the status of investigations.
- Hold an annual hearing starting in 2022.
See the full letter here