States of Disclosure

Published — May 26, 2009 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Paterson looks to shake up New York ethics laws


New York Governor David Paterson announced Tuesday a proposed restructuring of the state ethics commission, following charges that the executive director leaked confidential information to the governor’s office under a previous administration.

“I am calling for the creation of the Government Ethics Commission to oversee both the Executive and Legislative branches of government,” Paterson said in a press release. “One standard must and will apply to all.”

According to the Center’s States of Disclosure project, New York was ranked 13th for its legislative financial disclosure laws in 2006. Paterson’s proposal, however, would eliminate the current legislative ethics commission and transfer those responsibilities to the new Government Ethics Commission. Twenty-nine other states have one commission to oversee both the legislative and executive branches.

The executive director of the current ethics commission, the Commission on Public Integrity, resigned last week after a report by the inspector general alleged that he passed confidential information to an aide of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer in 2007, while Spitzer was still in office. As it stands now, the governor chooses seven of the commission’s 13 members, paving the way for potential conflicts of interest. Paterson’s proposed commission would only have five members who would be chosen by a screening panel instead of state elected officials.

If passed by the state legislature, the new law will take effect on January 1, 2010.

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