JCOPE Off to Slow, Rocky, Start
December 14th, 2011
Who knew so many ethical questions would be raised by the appointment of an ethics board? Let’s review.
On Friday, the remaining employees at the hobbled Commission on Public Integrity were finally told that they should come to work on Monday. Before that they had no idea whether they would be employed past that date. It isn’t clear who had the authority to keep the employees on as part of the new ethics agency because the new ethics agency didn’t exist and had not yet picked a chair. Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto simply told the Times Union, “JCOPE starts immediately and existing staff is under the boardís direction until the chair makes further notice.” Neither Vlasto or his boss technically had the authority to keep the employees on.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders announced their picks to serve on the the Joint Commission on Public Ethics on Monday evening via press release–just squeaking in under the deadline. Cuomo has since refused to answer questions about JCOPE members.
Serious ethical questions have been raised about the appointments of the Senate Minority and Assembly Minority. The Senate Democrat’s choice, Ravi Batra, has a colorful history and is connected to a jailed former Assemblyman. The Assembly Republican’s pick, David Renzi, is the husband of a sitting Senator.
Gov. Cuomo’s choice to head the organization, Janet DiFiore is going to be pulling double duty–holding down her day job was Westchester District Attorney while chairing JCOPE–a proposition that could be extremely ethically dicey. Another of Cuomo’s appointees Mitra Hormozi won’t start until early January in order to get around the pesky clause that says you can’t serve on JCOPE if you have worked for the state or legislature in the past year. Hormozi worked in the Attorney General’s Office under Cuomo and she has been serving as Cuomo’s choice to chair the now defunct CPI.
In fact the Daily News thinks Albany might just be playing “Cronyville” with JCOPE.
And then as the Times Union’s Jimmy Vielkind points out–none of those employees that were kept on from CPI are actually investigators. It is unclear when JCOPE might actually meet to, you know, hire some investigators and start doing its job.By David King on December 14, 2011, 9:15 am
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