Cuomo Gets His Pick on JCOPE
February 2nd, 2012
Inspector General Ellen Biben has been tapped by JCOPE to serve as its executive director. As reported by Liz Benjamin at State of Politics, and Jacob Gershman at the Wall Street Journal, the Cuomo administration has been pushing hard to have Biben named to the position. It is unclear whether she will step down from her position as IG to take the gig but she has accepted it. While Biben is a respected prosecutor, her ties to Cuomo are thick and there is a growing concern among legislators that Cuomo will effectively have control of JCOPE, just as Gov. Eliot Spitzer did over the CPI during Troopergate.
Benjamin writes: “The selection of Biben raises questions about the ability of JCOPE to be independent. The commission may find itself in the position of investigating the governor – its predecessor, the Public Integrity Commission, had to probe both Gov. Eliot Spitzer (for Troopergate), and Gov. David Paterson (for the Yankees ticket scandal and the David Johnson domestic violence mess) – and also has, for the first time, the power to investigate legislators.”
Good government groups The League of Women voters and Citizens Union have endorsed Biben. Citizens Union, which is the sister organization of the Citizens Union Foundation that publishes Gotham Gazette, has been very supportive of most of Cuomo’s moves regarding ethics and the tangled push for redistricting reform. Here is their statement:
“Citizens Union commends the appointment of New York State’s Inspector General Ellen N. Biben as Executive Director of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), the new state ethics body having joint jurisdiction over both the legislative and the executive branches. Ms. Biben is an experienced prosecutor who, prior to becoming Inspector General, served in positions that have prepared her well to assume this post. She has the requisite experience and needed integrity to take on the enormous challenge of serving as this new ethics body’s first executive director. The task before her is especially important because of the need for this agency to succeed as an impartial panel charged with oversight and enforcement of our state’s new ethics law and the pressing need to restore the public’s faith in our government and elected officials.”By David King on February 2, 2012, 3:32 pm
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