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June 10, 2011
Highlights of the Public Integrity Reform Act

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.

Requires officials to disclose outside income

Public officials with outside employment will now be required to disclose the names of clients who have business with the state in order to prevent conflicts of interest and possible corruption. The legislation also requires officials to disclose outside income, and stipulates that all financial disclosure statements filed with the new commission be made available on the Internet. In addition, the legislation increases penalties for violations of the code of ethics contained in the Public Officers Law.

New lobbying disclosure requirements

Lobbyists and clients of lobbyists will now be required to disclose the name, compensation and subject of transaction with any statewide public official, legislator, state employee, state office or legislative employee with whom they have a "reportable business relationship." Furthermore, the legislation constructs a public database on all firms and individuals that appear before any state agency, public authority, board or commission in order to shine light on any potential conflicts of interest.

Pension forfeiture for convicted felons

Public officials convicted of a felony related to their official duties will face the loss or reduction of their state pension.

The legislation also expands disclosure requirements for independent campaign expenditures and increases penalties for violations of campaign finance regulations, laying the groundwork for comprehensive campaign finance reform in future years.