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Ethics

Ethics

  • New York One Signature Away from Calling for Overturn of Citizens United

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    (photo: nysenate.gov)


    In a landmark year for corruption in the state legislature, 2015 saw the arrest and conviction of two of the most powerful political leaders in New York. A crescendo of voices across the state -- from good government watchdogs to lawmakers -- expressed outrage and demanded stronger ethics laws and campaign finance reforms. In one sense, Albany now has the opportunity to put its money where its mouth is -- and all it needs is one signature.  

    New York is one signatory away from becoming the 17th state in the country to

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  • Skelos Conviction Greeted With Calls for Immediate Action on Reform

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    Dean Skelos in 2012, via The Governor's Office on flickr 


    Sen. Dean Skelos and his son Adam Skelos were convicted on eight federal corruption charges Friday. They were found guilty of a scheme where Dean Skelos used his power as Senate Majority Leader to influence companies to employ or pay his son. The conviction comes only a week after that of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on charges that he illegally used his influence for financial gain of $4 million.

    The convictions speak to a larger campaign by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose

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  • Reform Proposals Fly as Panel Evaluates Ethics Watchdog

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    The governor's office, on the march (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    The 2011 law that created the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) to be the top ethics watchdog in the state contained a proviso that the body would be periodically reviewed to find ways to improve its functioning. That mandate fell upon the New York Ethics Review Commission, more commonly known as the JCOPE review commission, which held its first-ever public hearing on Wednesday at New York Law School in downtown Manhattan.

    The forum was sparsely attended with barely 20 people

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  • Do New York Elected Officials Deserve A Raise?

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    Mayor de Blasio along the parade route (photo: @BilldeBlasio)


    What should the mayor of New York City be paid each year? How much should City Council members be paid? Do elected officials deserve incremental raises each year?

    Or, maybe elected officials are overpaid as it is?

    Some, like New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, think higher government salaries would entice “better” people into public service, meaning smarter and more honest officials.

    A host of questions have

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  • Despite Unprecedented Scandal, Calls for Special Ethics Session Fall on Deaf Ears

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    Recently convicted former Sen. John Sampson (photo: @SampsonVictory)


    It would reason to think that the conviction of two legislative leaders would lead to a flurry of anti-corruption activity in any state capital. But in Albany, where the new normal appears to involve multiple convictions and indictments of sitting lawmakers every year, last week's crime blotter appears to have barely turned a head. The convictions of Republican Senate Deputy Leader Tom Libous and Democratic Sen. John Sampson, a former Majority Leader, on

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  • In End of Session 'Scorecard,' Plenty for Next Year's Albany Agenda

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (L-R) (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    In the Democrat-controlled Assembly, it was 122-13; in the Republican-controlled Senate, 47-12. With those votes and a Governor Andrew Cuomo signature, a final policy package brought an underwhelming end to a tumultuous 2015 legislative session in New York's capital. 

    Look at ...

  • Schneiderman's Evolution on Ethics

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    AG Schneiderman (photo via AG's flickr account)


    Scandal fatigue hit Attorney General Eric Schneiderman differently than it hit Governor Andrew Cuomo and leaders of the state legislature.

    Conventional wisdom is that the arrest and indictment of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver earlier this year sent shockwaves through Albany. And yet as far as ethics reforms go, the result of the indictment of the man many saw as the most powerful man in "the room," a man who controlled the Assembly for over two decades, was

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  • Advocates: Cuomo, Legislature Squandered Moment for True Reform

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    Gov. Cuomo & AM Nolan shake on an ethics deal (photo: the Governor's Office via flickr)


    The arrest of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was supposed to spark the moment for true reform in Albany. It felt to many a simultaneously shocking and galvanizing event, strong enough to splinter, if not destroy the dam, allowing the flow of real discussion about regulating lawyer-legislators, loopholes allowing unlimited LLC donations to candidates, and conflicts of interest. It was a time for bold

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  • Frustrated and Confused, Legislators Vote on Largely Unseen Budget

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    Gov. Cuomo during Sunday's Greek Independence parade (photo: @NYGovCuomo)


    Voting on a murky budget "framework" began in Albany on Monday evening under a cloud of confusion and anger. Debate in both houses of the state Legislature stretched from afternoon into evening, with the Assembly adjourning around 9 and the Senate around 10 p.m. Both will be back to finish voting on budget bills Tuesday morning - legslation that members mostly have not had a chance to read.

    As Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators sprint to

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  • Three Different Budgets with Two Weeks To Go

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    Assembly Speaker Heastie (photo: Karen DeWitt)


    Legislative leaders from both houses appear set to test Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s promise that he will sacrifice an on-time budget to get a set of ethics reforms he laid out in February, not long after the arrest of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges.

    Last week, the State Senate and State Assembly each passed its one-house budget, marking stark differences from the governor and from each

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