Gov. Kathy Hochul named JCOPE appointments on Tuesday. Former Suffolk County District Administrative Judge Randall Hinrichs is now a member of the Commission. And, former General Counsel of the New York State Department of Health under Governor Andrew Cuomo, James Dering was announced Acting Chair of the Commission.
“We’re of course concerned about Dering being a Cuomo holdover and a pretty long-serving one who was there when Cuomo intensely politicized the agency and used it as a rubber stamp for a lot of unethical activity,” said Reinvent Albany Executive Director John Kaehny.
Before going into a private executive session today, the Commission took up a vote to revoke its approval of the Governor’s book deal. That action failed. There’s also been controversy over the Commission’s handling of an alleged 2019 leak that had to do with former Cuomo aide, Joe Percoco.
According to a Times Union report, after the Commission asked Attorney General Tish James’ Office to investigate the leak, she wrote back in a letter yesterday that the referral didn’t meet requirements under the law.
As far as the Commission goes, Kaehny says he’d like to see JCOPE scrapped and replaced through a constitutional amendment. But, he says at the earliest the new ethics enforcer wouldn’t be up and running for two and a half to three years. “Hochul pledged today that she was going to consult with the legislature and with good government groups… on ways to make ethics enforcement work,” Kaehny said. “We appreciate that.”