Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel Helps Pass Legislation to Bring Ethics Reform to Albany
June 13, 2011
Albany – Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel is pleased to announce that the New York State Assembly and Senate recently passed sweeping ethics reform legislation (A.8301) that cracks down on unethical behavior and forces greater accountability and transparency. “Public officials and employees have a responsibility to remain accountable to the people they serve. Unfortunately, the actions of a few have painted state government in a negative light. This legislation includes tough new monitoring and enforcement tools that will help restore faith in state government,” said Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel. This legislation will close loopholes, strengthen ethics oversight, increases disclosure of outside income requirements for public officials, and ends the unjust practice of using taxpayer money to fund pensions of officials convicted of felonies related to their positions. Key Bill Highlights Strengthens Ethics Oversight In an effort to enhance oversight and crack down on corruption, the legislation establishes an independent Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE). This commission will have wide-ranging powers to investigate wrongdoing in state government, ensure compliance with financial disclosure requirements and oversee lobbyists who must meet greater disclosure standards. Enhanced Disclosure of Income and Clients Under this measure, all public officials with outside employment must disclose the names of clients with business before the state to avoid any situation that could potentially be a conflict of interest. It also requires financial disclosure forms to be posted on JCOPE’s website and rids provisions that make income confidential. Lobbyists are also now required to disclose the name and compensation amount of public officials with whom they have a “reportable business relationship.” Pension Forfeiture for Convicted Felons: The Assembly’s ethics reform legislation strips pension benefits from elected officials who violate the public’s trust. For the first time, public officials convicted of a felony-including statewide and local elected officials, legislators, judges, and employees of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches-all face the loss of their pensions. “Transparency and accountability are the pillars of good government. This legislation will strengthen both and ensure that those who violate the public’s trust will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately,” said Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel.