Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R,C,I – Schoharie) today announced that he is pleased that the Assembly has passed an ethics reform plan, which is largely based on Assembly minority proposals.
The agreement will help to set higher ethical standards for public officials, reorganize the Legislative Ethics Committee, establish an independent public integrity panel and significantly strengthen penalties for violations.
“This is a good step in the right direction,” stated Lopez. “However, there is much more that we can do to make New York government more transparent and accountable for constituents.”
The bill includes the following measures:
- Lobby Reforms - Prohibits all gifts of more than “nominal value” from lobbyists and their clients, including travel, lodging and other expenses, and broadens the types of lobbying activities that lobbyists disclose;
- Gifts - Prohibits all gifts of more than “nominal value” from non-lobbyists to public officials where such gifts might appear designed to influence the official;
- Soliciting Contributions - Prohibits non-legislative employees from using their authority or influence to “compel or induce” any other employee to make political contributions;
- Revolving Door - Closes the “revolving door” loophole by prohibiting former legislative employees from directly lobbying the legislature for two years, and expands the revolving door restrictions for Executive Chamber employees to preclude appearances before any state agency.
To further strengthen the bill, Lopez and his Assembly minority colleagues offered an amendment that would prohibit convicted felons from collecting their state pension. A second proposed amendment would have required a public hearing on the ethics reform act prior to it being enacted into law.
“Ethics reform is necessary for us to ensure that the people of New York receive the services they deserve,” added Lopez. “We must move forward from this point and do everything we can to reform state government with the best interest of all New Yorkers in mind.”