Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced the appointments of Patrick Bulgaro, Marvin Jacob and Ellen Yaroshefsky to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE).
JCOPE, which was established by the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011, is an independent body responsible for overseeing and investigating allegations of ethics violations in state government. This new ethics panel became operational on December 11, 2011, replacing the Commission on Public Integrity.
"Pat Bulgaro, Marvin Jacob and Ellen Yaroshefsky are accomplished and principled and have distinguished themselves among their peers as individuals who uphold the highest standards of probity, which qualifies them to serve on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics," said Speaker Silver.
The 14-member commission is comprised of three appointments each from the Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the Assembly, one each from the minority leaders of both houses and six appointments jointly from the governor and lieutenant governor.
The governor will appoint the chair from among the commission members.
Of Historic Ethics Reform Legislation
The Assembly today passed historic ethics reform legislation that will require more extensive financial disclosure and establish serious penalties for those who violate the law. I salute Governor Cuomo for his leadership and perseverance in forging this necessary and important agreement. Transparency and accountability are the pillars of good government, and today's action will strengthen our citizens' faith in their elected leaders and hold accountable those who betray the public trust.
Strengthens ethics oversight
The Public Integrity Reform Act creates an independent, bipartisan commission charged with investigating violations in both the legislative and executive branches, enforcing new financial disclosure requirements and monitoring lobbying activity in Albany. The commission will refer violations to appropriate law-enforcement agencies, ensuring that officials who violate the public trust are held accountable for their actions.
To preserve the commission's integrity and independence, members of the commission cannot have been a lobbyist, statewide elected official, member of the Legislature, agency commissioner or political party chairman within the past three years, nor a state officer or employee or a legislative employee within the past year.
The Assembly has long-championed ethics reforms and it has been a top priority of the Assembly Majority this Legislative Session. The agreement announced today will create a new, independent ethics commission, require full disclosure of all outside income of public officials and strip the pension benefits of officials convicted of a felony.
The measure will create the new independent Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) which will be empowered to investigate wrongdoing, ensure financial-disclosure compliance, and hold lobbyists to higher disclosure standards. In a powerful step toward cleaning up state government, JCOPE will refer violations of state and federal law to appropriate law-enforcement agencies, and will issue any such findings to the Legislative Ethics Commission, where penalties will be enforced and violations made public to ensure swift and open resolutions.
Governor, on behalf of the Assembly, I thank you for your perseverance and for the leadership you have provided in bringing about this agreement.
For this legislative session, ethics reform was among our top priorities, so we are pleased to have accomplished this important goal.
The agreement we have reached today, requires more extensive financial disclosure and establishes serious penalties for those who violate the law.