ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — A nominee who was rejected for the states new Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government filed a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the commissions nominee review process. That person is Gary Lavine.
“Basically what the law school administrators did was, they said, ‘oh well, we don’t agree with your opinions, therefore we will reject you,'” said Lavine, who is an attorney and was nominated by Minority Leader Robert Ortt to be on the new commission. Lavine was a member of the previous ethics commission known as JCOPE.
The Independent review committee – which is made up of 15 law school deans – is in charge of reviewing the nominees. In part, Lavine’s lawsuit objects the commission’s widening of the term confidentiality, “If a matter is confidential under the statue, it cannot be discussed in public. Any other matter in the public domain, and any commissioner should be free to discuss any matter, not confidential, with the news media. That was my position, and I was rejected by the law school administrators because ..in part I took that position.”
Lavine said there’s also a provision that allows for commission members to remove other commissioners for violating confidentiality without consenting the legislator who appointed them. “And I said, it’s unconstitutional, it’s an obvious violation of separation of power. I’m a Republican appointee and I’m gonna vote to remove a speaker’s Democratic appointee? Without the speaker’s consent? It’s obviously unconstitutional,” said Lavine.
Among other suggestions, good government groups have requested commissioners do not have any contact with those who appointed them. Lavine strongly disagrees with this, “The idea of insulating the commissioners is fundamentally antithetical to the proposition of openness in government which this group of so called reformers reports to advocate.”
There are currently seven of the 11 commission members confirmed. Capitol Correspondent, Amal Tlaige reached out to the law school deans for comment, but they were unable to speak on matters involving litigation.