Strengthening Ethics in New York

February 1, 2006

Download PDF of the entire report

This comprehensive analysis of New York's ethics and lobbying laws produced a set of proposed reforms based on regulations adopted by other states.

New York State’s governmental ethics laws are in need of major reform. Significant areas of governmental and special interest activities that threaten the performance and integrity of public officials remain outside the reach of existing laws and enforcement powers. Even behavior by public officials that is prohibited by existing criminal laws is at the same time invited by weak ethics laws and by the absence of meaningful and independent enforcement mechanisms.

If passed, the “Ethics in Government Act of 2006” would close numerous current loopholes, expand the reach of existing ethics rules without burdening public officials with needless paperwork, and strengthen ethics enforcement. This measure would reform New York’s ethics laws in the most scandal-prone areas in order to improve both the quality of our government’s decisions and public confidence in our elected officials. This bill would make New York State a national leader in holding its government to the highest ethical and substantive standards.

The Ethics in Government Act of 2006 would:

  • 1. Establish an independent state ethics commission.
  • 2. Limit contributions from public contractors and lobbyists to end the “pay-to-play” practices of Albany.
  • 3. Ban gifts.
  • 4. Ban honoraria.
  • 5. Strengthen ban on use of campaign contributions for personal use.
  • 6. Strengthen “revolving door” bans.
  • 7. Create more stringent requirements for financial disclosure for public officers.
  • 8. Require ethics training for lobbyists and public officials, including the governor, legislators, legislative employees, and state agency employees.