After strong support from Senator Velmaentte Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) to pass legislation earlier this year, the Public Integrity Act of 2011 has been signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. The ethics reforms will help bring integrity, accountability, transparency and public confidence back to State government.
The ethics reforms will:
• Require comprehensive disclosure from state officials – including lawyers – regarding the outside clients & customers they provide services to;
• Eliminate “pay-to-play”;
• Strip public officials convicted of felonies involving public corruption of their taxpayer funded pension
• Require a more detailed disclosure of outside sources of income;
• Establish Project Sunlight, a database of all individuals and firms with matters before the state;
• Require disclosure from lobbyist and their clients of their relationships with public officials;
• And increase oversight of lobbying behavior through a broader definition of lobbying.
The Reform Act also establishes a new Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), which will have investigative oversight over both the executive and legislative branches. Creating an independent oversight commission with greater enforcement authority will improve the standards of conduct and accountability for all elected officials.