For Immediate Release
Wednesday, February 1, 2006
212 992–8642 or 917 693–9690
Rachel Leon, Common Cause NY,
Barbara Bartoletti, League of Women Voters/N.Y.S,
Blair Horner, New York Public Interest Research Group,
REFORMERS CALL FOR OVERHAUL OF STATE ETHICS LAWS
GROUPS URGE GOVERNOR AND LEGISLATURE TO END PAY TO PLAY CULTURE, BAN LOBBYISTS GIFTS AND CREATE AN INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSION
Albany, NY—Calling for an overhaul of New York States ethics laws, a coalition of civic groups urged Governor Pataki and New Yorks legislative leaders to embrace a package of reforms unveiled today. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Common Cause/NY, the League of Women Voters/N.Y.S. and the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) released Strengthening Ethics in New York, an analysis of New Yorks laws regulating ethics and lobbying that proposed a series of reforms for New York based on reforms adopted by other states.
In a letter to the Governor and the leaders of both the Senate and Assembly, the groups urged action on their proposal to close numerous current loopholes, expand the reach of existing ethics rules without burdening public officials with needless paperwork, and strengthen ethics enforcement. Covering 8 areas of reform, the proposal would, among other things:
-Establish an independent state ethics commission with jurisdiction over statewide elected officials,
state officers and employees, legislators, and legislative employees.
-Limit contributions from public contractors and lobbyists to end the pay-to-play practices of Albany.
-Ban gifts to elected officials, state officers or employees, and candidates for those offices, with
limited exceptions for de minimis items.
-Ban honoraria paid to public officials, except those paid for private professional services at the rate
charged by specialists in the relevant field.
-Strengthen ban on use of campaign contributions for personal use.
-Strengthen revolving door bans by extending them to political party officials and lengthening the
period of prohibition for lobbying by legislative employees.
-Improve existing financial disclosure requirements for public officers.
-Require ethics training for lobbyists, the governor, legislators, legislative employees, and state agency officers and employees.
The Brennan Center also released a draft bill that would codify the proposed ethics reform proposals in the report.