JCOPE Commissioners Announced
December 12th, 2011
The Cuomo administration unveiled the names of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics appointees just a bit after 5 p.m by press release. There was no press conference. Note that some of these folks barely meet, or don’t quite meet the criteria to serve on JCOPE. Former State Senator Mary Lou Rath left the Senate in 2009–putting her in just under the requirement that she not have been in the legislature for three years. Meanwhile, Mitra Hormozi, who worked for Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Attorney General’s office and served on the Commission on Public Integrity up until today, will join JCOPE on January 5, 2012–one year after she left Cuomo’s employ. It doesn’t look like this list will make New York Public Interest Research Group’s Russ Haven very happy. Haven said many times these picks should come from outside legal and political circles and perhaps even be “everyday people, like your neighbor.”
The selection of Ravi Batra was the source of major tension between Senate Democrats. Batra has close ties to some Democrats and has actually come under investigation for ethical conflicts.
Here is the rundown from the press release:
Governor Cuomo’s appointments:
· Janet DiFiore, Chair. Elected in 2005 and reelected in 2009, District Attorney DiFiore is the chief law enforcement officer of Westchester County. She also serves as the president of the District Attorney’s Association of the State of New York. Prior to her current position, she served as a Judge of the Westchester County Court and as a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court. District Attorney DiFiore was also appointed by former-Chief Judge Judith Kaye to serve as the Supervising Judge for the Criminal Courts in the 9th Judicial District and was appointed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to serve as Co-Chair of the New York State Justice Task Force. District Attorney DiFiore received her J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law and her B.A. from C.W. Post College, Long Island University.
· Vincent A. DeIorio. Mr. DeIorio is the Chair of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Board of Directors. He is an attorney with private practices in Purchase and New York City. Mr. DeIorio has previously served on the New York State Court of Claims. Mr. DeIorio is a graduate of the Utica College of Syracuse University and the University at Buffalo Law School. Mr. DeIorio will resign from NYSERDA in order to serve on JCOPE.
· Mitra Hormozi. Ms. Hormozi has served as the Chairperson of the New York State Commission on Public Integrity since her appointment earlier this year. Ms. Hormozi is a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. She previously served as the Special Deputy Chief of Staff in the New York Attorney General’s Office, where she supervised high-profile initiatives involving public integrity. Prior to that, she spent more than six years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, where she was the Chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section and received numerous top law enforcement awards. Ms. Hormozi is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the New York University School of Law. Ms. Hormozi will join JCOPE on January 5, 2012, one year after she left the Attorney General’s Office.
· Daniel J. Horwitz. Mr. Horwitz is currently a partner at Lanker & Carragher, LLP. He previously served as a New York County Assistant District Attorney in the Frauds Bureau. Prior to his legal career, Mr. Horwitz served as Legislative Director to Congressman Thomas J. Downey. Mr. Horwitz received his J.D. cum laude from the American University Washington College of Law and his B.A. from Columbia University.
· Gary J. Lavine. Mr. Lavine is associated as counsel with Green & Seifter, Attorneys, PLLC. Mr. Lavine served in the U.S. Department of Energy as Deputy General Counsel for Environment & Nuclear Programs during the administration of President George W. Bush. He also served as senior vice president and chief legal officer of Niagara Mohawk Holding Inc. Mr. Lavine has served in a number of staff positions with the New York State Legislature, including legislative counsel to the Minority Leader of the Assembly. He received degrees in both business administration and law from Syracuse University.
· Seymour Knox IV. Mr. Knox is the CEO of Knox International, LLC, a New York based private equity firm. For twenty years, Mr. Knox served as Vice President of Corporate Relations for the Buffalo Sabres. Mr. Knox is a graduate of Lake Forest College.
Senate Majority Leader Skelos’ appointments:
· Mary Lou Rath. Ms. Rath is a former New York State Senator.
· Judge Joseph Covello. Judge Covello is a former Appellate Division Judge and a Partner at Lynn, Gartner, Dunne & Covello, LLP.
· George H. Weissman. Mr. Weissman is currently of Counsel at Marsh, Wasserman and Associates, LLP. He was formerly the Managing General Counsel at the Office of the State Comptroller.
Assembly Speaker Silver’s appointments:
· Pat Bulgaro. Mr. Bulgaro has more than twenty-five years of state government experience, serving at the highest levels of several state agencies, including the Department of Taxation and Finance and the Division of the Budget, where he served as director under former Governor Mario Cuomo. He also served as President and Executive Director of the Center for the Disabled and on the New York State Temporary Commission on Lobbying as an appointee of Speaker Silver. During his distinguished career in public service, Mr. Bulgaro was awarded the Governor Charles Evans Hughes Award for “outstanding career achievement.”
· Marvin Jacob. Mr. Jacob, a retired attorney, was a partner in the Business and Finance & Restructuring Department of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where he handled matters before the bankruptcy courts and federal district and appellate courts. He has corporate bankruptcy litigation experience, serving such institutional clients as General Electric Capital Corporation and Credit Suisse First Boston. Mr. Jacob has also served as the Associate Regional Administrator, New York Regional Office, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In 2010, the Speaker appointed Mr. Jacob to the task force that oversaw the implementation of the Public Authorities Reform Act of 2009.
· Ellen Yaroshefsky. Ms. Yaroshefsky is currently a law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, co-executive director of the Jacob Burns Ethics Center in the Practice of Law, and a former adjunct professor at Fordham Law School. She is an experienced attorney specializing in defense and civil rights litigation, and is a member of several attorney ethics review organizations, including the American Bar Association’s Ethics, Gideon and Professionalism Committee, the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Ethics Advisory Committee.
Senate Democratic Leader John L. Sampson’s appointment:
· Ravi Batra. Mr. Batra is an attorney with a private practice. He has served as a professor of business law at Pace University. Mr. Batra has also served as the Chair of the Judicial Independence Committee of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. He received his J.D. from Fordham University and his bachelor of business administration degree cum laude from Pace University.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb’s appointment:
· David A. Renzi. Mr. Renzi is a partner in the law firm of Brown, Dierdorf and Renzi. He has been with this Watertown firm since 2002. The firm is recognized for their expertise in the areas of real estate, business formation, estate planning, and municipal practice. Previously, Mr. Renzi served as the Public Defender for Jefferson County and successfully prosecuted thousands of criminal cases. Mr. Renzi is a graduate of Syracuse University School of Law.
JCOPE has jurisdiction to investigate and impose penalties on executive branch employees and lobbyists. JCOPE also has jurisdiction to investigate potential violations of law by legislators and legislative employees and, if violations are found, issue findings to the Legislative Ethics Commission, which will have jurisdiction to impose penalties. Any potential violations of federal or state criminal laws will be referred to the appropriate prosecutor for further action.
JCOPE was created as part of Governor Cuomo’s historic ethics reform package passed earlier this year to address major inadequacies in the state’s ethics system and to restore public trust in government. The Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 contained some of the most comprehensive ethics enhancements in modern history, including reforms that create unprecedented transparency, require strict disclosure, and increase penalties for ethics violBy David King on December 12, 2011, 5:27 pm
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