Gotham Gazette

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JCOPE

JCOPE

  • State Budget Roundup: Ethics, Transparency, Spending Accountability, Campaign Finance, and Voting

    Gov. Hochul signs orders (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    Good government groups and reform-minded officials have for years called for New York State’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) to be scrapped and replaced with more independence from the elected officials it is meant to regulate. But since the details of a deal to replace the troubled commission began to emerge last month, reformers have raised alarms that the new body would hardly be better than the old.

    A new state ethics commission is one of several measures related to government ethics and

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  • Max Politics Podcast: Senator Liz Krueger on Assessing the Governor's Budget and Top 2022 Priorities

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    State Senator Liz Krueger (photo: NY Senate)


    January 19, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Senator Liz Krueger on Assessing the Governor's Budget and Other 2022 Priorities

    State Senator Liz Krueger, chair of the Senate's finance committee, joined the show to discuss Governor Kathy Hochul's Executive Budget and the hearings Krueger will soon hold on it, as well as other priorities for the Manhattan Democrat including ethics and elections reforms, implementation of the state's marijuana legalization, and more.

    Listen to

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  • In the 'New Albany,' State Senate Regularly Outpaces Assembly on Reform

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    The New York State Senate (photo: NY Senate Media Services)


    For years the Democratic majority of the New York State Assembly advanced bills its members knew the Republican-controlled State Senate wouldn't pass. Still other legislation, especially related to government ethics, transparency, and elections, stewed on the backburner with neither majority moving it forward. Those were the days of two-party rule in Albany, of a group of breakaway Democrats who buoyed Republicans, and a governor happy to straddle the middle.

    Since

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  • Hochul Releases 'Ironclad' Conflicts of Interest Policy Related to Husband's Work

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    Governor Hochul with her husband (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    UPDATE: The day after this article was published by Gotham Gazette (headlined "Hochul Pledges to Release 'Ironclad' Conflicts of Interest Policy"), Governor Hochul released the recusal policies she, Secretary to the Governor Karen P. Keogh, and Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin signed related to their private business interests. For Hochul and Keogh the

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  • ‘Turning the Page on a Long Chapter’: Kathy Hochul's First Month as Governor of New York

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    Gov. Hochul (photo: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)


    Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday marked her first month in office, during which she has responded to several ongoing and new crises, barnstormed the state in public appearances, and sought to begin restoring confidence in state government after nearly three full terms of her disgraced predecessor’s leadership.

    Hochul, a Democrat from Buffalo, continues to carve out the rot of Andrew Cuomo’s administration and build out the top echelons of her executive office as she works to put more

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  • Major State Ethics and Governance Reforms Hoped for Under Hochul

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    Then-Gov. Cuomo with current Gov. Hochul (photo: Governor's Office)


    With the abrupt end of the ten-year reign of Governor Andrew Cuomo, reformers inside and outside of state government are looking for change. Unspooling their wishlist has been a kind of inaugural red carpet for Governor Kathy Hochul, who took office last month after Cuomo resigned amid a flurry of scandal -- almost all connected, in some way, to government ethics, transparency, and the erosion of checks and balances.

    Hochul immediately pledged to take steps to undo Cuomo's

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  • Max Politics Podcast: A Government Reform Agenda for Governor Hochul

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    Gov. Hochul is sworn in (photo: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)


    September 01, 2021 - Max Politics Podcast: A Government Reform Agenda for Governor Hochul

    John Kaehny, executive director of government watchdog and reform group Reinvent Albany, joined the show to discuss what ethics, transparency, and other reforms Governor Kathy Hochul should prioritize as well as a number of other issues related to how state government works in New York.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter

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  • 'This Moment Calls For Immediate Change': State Senate Takes Aim at New York's Ethics Watchdog

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    State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (center) (Photo: NY Senate)


    Looking over the scandal-pocked landscape of Albany in the wake of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, lawmakers in the State Senate set their sights this week on the dysfunctional Joint Commission on Public Ethics, the state’s ethics watchdog often criticized for its apparent lack of independence and bite.

    At a Senate ethics committee hearing Wednesday, senators on both sides of the aisle tore into JCOPE’s executive director, Judge Sanford Berland, over the rules and practices

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  • 'So Completely Compromised': New York Watchdog Agencies Have a Credibility Problem

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    (photo: Edwin J. Torres/ Mayoral Photography Office)


    In January, the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, a governmental watchdog agency, revealed that it had held a closed-door vote on a potential ethics investigation into a former top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo. The aide, Joe Percoco, was convicted on federal corruption charges in a highly publicized trial that also laid bare work he had done from his executive chamber office while on leave to work

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  • Claiming Attempt to Silence Them, Advocacy Groups Oppose Cuomo Lobbying Proposal

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    Gov. Cuomo (photo: Mike Groll/Governor's Office)


    Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2019 agenda includes a host of voting, campaign finance, and ethics reforms. Of three provisions related to government lobbying, one is spurring backlash from nonprofits, smaller advocacy organizations, and grassroots activists who feel threatened. Cuomo would like to require any individual or organization spending over $500 in a year on lobbying to be required to register as a lobbyist, lowering the threshold from $5,000.

    The proposal is sparking

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  • ‘It’s just not designed to do its job’: Will New York reform its state ethics agency?

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    Skelos, Cuomo & Silver in 2011 (photo via the Governor's office)


    This year’s elections in New York saw the issues of public corruption and government ethics reform take centerstage in several campaigns. Insurgent Democratic candidates, some who succeeded and others who did not, challenged incumbent elected officials on their parts in the broken system of corruption prevention and ethics enforcement at the state level that has allowed -- some say encouraged -- rampant corruption and self-enrichment.

    Much criticism has been levelled at the state’s Joint Commission

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  • Pointing to Deficiencies, Victims Call for Changes to State’s New Sexual Harassment Policies

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    (photo via the Governor's Office)


    The problem of sexual harassment in New York state politics is systemic and plaguing young women beginning their careers, according to a group fighting to change the culture and the laws around the issue. And, they argue that recently adopted state measures to fight the scourge are insufficient, despite being touted by Governor Andrew Cuomo as “the best in the nation.”

    The seven women of The Sexual Harassment Working Group -- all of whom have been personally affected by sexual harassment

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  • Molinaro Outlines Initial Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform Agenda

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    Marc Molinaro (photo: @marcmolinaro)


    When he formally launched his run for governor earlier this month, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said that “all New Yorkers are paying a corruption tax.” It is a tax, Molinaro explained, that is the result of both legal and illegal malfeasance, of wasteful, ineffective, and corrupt government. In his initial remarks that day, at events in Tivoli and Albany, and during multiple exchanges with journalists, Molinaro has outlined elements of a reform agenda that, he says, will help restore faith in government

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  • Vance Fallout Echoes Other Controversies that Led to Reforms

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    Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (@NYSComptroller)


    As the office and campaign of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance reexamine internal policies regarding the acceptance of campaign contributions, they may want to reference the guidebook of the office of the State Comptroller or Attorney General, both of which have implemented their own donor-vetting systems and guidelines in the wake of controversies involving fundraising practices. These checks far exceed what is required by ...

  • Murky Definitions for Government Entities Undermine Transparency

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    Gov. Cuomo in Buffalo (photo: The Governor's Office)


    When Rockland County Democratic Party Chair Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky fills out her annual state disclosure forms, she consults her husband for question six, which requires the listing of contracts held with a state or local agency held by the filer, filer’s spouse, or unemancipated child.

    Evan Stavisky, a partner in the prominent Albany lobbying firm The Parkside Group, after checking with the firm’s lawyer, has told his wife that his company does not represent any government

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, September 26

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    The week starts with all eyes on the Presidential race and the first presidential debate Monday night. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will debate at 9 p.m. Monday from Long Island. Mayor Bill de Blasio made a trip to Wisconsin over the weekend to campaign for Hillary Clinton and he'll attend the debate Monday evening at Hofstra. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Gov. Andrew Cuomo will also attend the

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  • In Extended Session, Lawmakers Vote Through Variety of Bills with Little Public Review

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    The Capitol Building (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin, Governor's Office)


    Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders finished protracted and messy end-of-session negotiations on Friday night -- one day after the scheduled end of legislative session -- not with the traditional celebratory press conference, but with a series of press releases. Sent to reporters as bills were still being negotiated, printed, and voted upon Friday night, Cuomo’s public schedule for Saturday put him in the New York City area with no events.

    A press release

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  • Oft-Criticized Ethics Watchdog Names Cuomo Aide as Executive Director

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    Gov. Cuomo gives an ethics reform speech in 2015 (Governor's Office via flickr)


    The state's independent ethics commission took the first official ethics-related action in Albany since the convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos on Tuesday when it appointed a man with ties to both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders as its new executive director.

    Seth Agata, who JCOPE - the Joint Commission on Public Ethics - says it hired after a nine-month,

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  • Will Silver Conviction Be Tipping Point for 'Real' Reform?

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    Sheldon Silver in 2012 (photo via the Governor's Office)


    Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, thought to be the most powerful man in New York state government for decades, was found guilty Monday on seven counts of corruption in multiple schemes to monetize the power of his office. During the trial Silver's own defense attorney insisted that Albany itself was on trial and claimed that Silver's behavior was business as usual in Albany,

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  • Good Government Groups Point to New Evidence of Need for Major Ethics Reform

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    L-R: Silver, Cuomo & Skelos in 2011 (photo via the governor's office) 


    New York's leading good government groups gathered at Manhattan's Foley Square Wednesday to call on the New York State legislature and the governor to take immediate action to reform public ethics laws. The press conference, held in the shadows of a federal courthouse where one of New York’s most

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, October 26

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    This week will be dominated by the World Series, we know that. The New York Mets begin their quest for the title against the Royals in Kansas City on Tuesday night, followed by another game in KC on Wednesday and then games in Queens on Friday, Saturday, and, if necessary, Sunday. If the series continues, games six and seven would be the following Tuesday and Wednesday (Nov. 3 and 4) back in Kansas City. On Sunday,

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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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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, October 5

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    This week will include a focus on what the city can do to stop gas-related explosions after another such explosion occurred this weekend, this time in Borough Park; education politics and policy, as the pro-charter, anti-de Blasio group Families for Excellent Schools will hold a large rally; a continuation of negotiation and criticism between city and state entities over MTA funding; and more.

    Oh, and it's the

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  • Newest Prison Sentences Remind of Limited Movement on Even Agreed Upon Reforms

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    Albany leaders (photo: The Governor's Office via flickr)


    Last week, two former New York State Assembly Democrats were sentenced in federal corruption cases. While the punishment bestowed upon each may warn current lawmakers to toe ethical lines, progress on concrete reforms aimed at curbing the type of behavior that landed William Boyland Jr. and William Scarborough in prison has been slow to materialize.

    Boyland Jr., of Brooklyn, received 14

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  • The Week That Was in New York Politics, July 27-31

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    photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York


    Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday July 31

    PHOTO OF THE WEEK: rendering of the next LaGaurdia Airport, via the Governor's Office on flickr

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