ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — The state’s new Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government has appointed seven of its 11 members. They replace the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Many say former Governor Cuomo’s sexual harassment allegations and $5.1 million book deal are some of the issues the previous agency failed to address.
The Independent Review Committee is in charge of evaluating and voting on nominations. The Committee is made up of 15 law school deans including Chair, Anthony Crowell. “I can tell you that the deans took this role very seriously for the ten nominations we’ve received, there is one nomination we have yet to receive, we confirmed seven of the ten,” said Crowell.
Blair Horner is Executive Director at NYPIRG, a watchdog agency. He says he was uneasy with having law school deans being involved in the nomination process, “They are also working for institutions that lobby state government, and the ethics agency monitors lobbying of state government, but it puts them and their institutions in a potential conflict.”
The Committee has rejected three nominees, one of those being attorney, Gary Lavine who was nominated by Minority Leader, Robert Ortt. Lavine was the former commissioner of JCOPE and recently filed a lawsuit challenging the commissions nominee review process.
Horner says while in JCOPE Lavine raised questions about the former Governors control of the agency and issues surrounding his book deal, “So you know the concern that I think he’s raising at least implicitly is that he was rejected because he wasn’t willing to sort of get along and go along with the rest of the team at JCOPE.” Capitol Correspondent, Amal Tlaige reached out to the Committee who was unable to speak on matters involving litigation.
On Thursday, watchdog groups sent a letter to the new members in part urging them to have no communication with those who appointed them, increase transparency and access to public information, appoint an Executive Director after a nationwide search and ensure state workers feel confident in reporting allegations of misconduct. The Commission is set to have their next meeting on October 6.