ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics had its final meeting last month. State officials are now nominating members to appoint to the new Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government. Capitol Correspondent Amal Tlaige has more on that.
“Like many things, it takes a scandal to get people paying attention,” said Rachael Fauss, Senior Research Analyst for Reinvent Albany. There will be 11 members appointed to the new Ethics Commission. This comes after the previous agency failed to be the proper watchdog against ex-Governor Cuomo, who had sexual harassment allegations and a $5 million book deal approved by the commission at the height of the pandemic.
So what is the role of the ethics commission? Fauss says, they’re the body that will investigate any wrongdoing done by elected officials and government employees, “They also issue advice to those people when they’re looking at you know ‘can I have this outside job? Can I write a book about being Governor? They answer important questions like that.'”
Anthony Crowell is Chair of the new Independent Review Committee and Dean of New York Law School. The committee – which is made up of 15 law school deans – is in charge of evaluating and accepting nominations by elected officials. They were also tasked with creating protocols for how they would review nominations, “It requires them to engage in a process of looking for candidates who have impeccable integrity, who have a history of service, and who have a background and a lived experience that allows them to serve objectively and effectively on the state’s ethics commission,” said Crowell.
However, some have already criticized the new group as being too democrat-led rather than bipartisan, with nine members being Democrats and two being Republicans. Additionally, Fauss says by the end of each calendar year the new commission has to hold a public hearing about the law and how the commission is doing, which is new.