Assemblyman Lavine: Assembly Passes Sweeping Ethics Reform Agreement
Legislation greatly increases transparency and accountability
June 17, 2011
Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) announced the Assembly passed legislation supported by the governor and Senate that will institute historic, wide-ranging reform that cracks down on unethical behavior (A.8301). “This groundbreaking legislation will help ensure that both elected and appointed public officials and employees stay accountable to the people they serve,” Assemblyman Lavine said. “Unfortunately, the actions of some have given state government a bad name. This measure includes tough new monitoring and enforcement tools that will help restore faith in state government.” Strengthening ethics oversight The Assembly legislation establishes an independent Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) with broad powers to investigate wrongdoing in the legislative and executive branches; ensure compliance with their financial disclosure requirements; and oversee lobbyists while holding them to higher disclosure standards. “This new ethics commission will have true independence and robust powers to weed out any corruption,” Assemblyman Lavine said. “It will strengthen accountability in state government and ensure that those who violate the public’s trust will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately.” The bipartisan JCOPE will consist of 14 members:
- six appointed by the governor and lieutenant governor, with three of those members belonging to a major political party that is not that of the governor;
- three by the Speaker of the Assembly;
- three by the Temporary President of the Senate;
- one by the Assembly Minority Leader; and
- one by the Senate Minority Leader.
- requires that public officials disclose the name of any clients or customers providing compensation of $10,000 or more who are lobbyists, persons receiving contracts, grants or member items from the state or persons or entities that have a matter before a state agency;
- requires disclosure of such clients when referred by a public official to his or her firm;
- requires the posting of financial disclosure forms on JCOPE’s website; and
- removes provisions in current law that make income and asset categories of value confidential.
- requires lobbyists and clients of lobbyists to disclose the name, compensation and subject of transactions with any statewide public official, legislator, state employee, state officer or legislative employee who has a “reportable business relationship” with them;
- requires the state Board of Elections to clarify the requirement under existing law regarding independent expenditures that expressly identify a political candidate or ballot proposal; and
- increases the penalty for failure to file a campaign statement required by election law from $500 to $1,000 and creates a new $10,000 penalty for failing to file three or more statements throughout the course of an election cycle.