Editorial Board: Hochul’s Proposal for New Ethics Body Promises Transparency and Accountability | Editorial


The members themselves would choose a president, rather than being chosen by the governor. This is another good step towards independence.

The commission would be subject to freedom of information and open assembly laws, like other state agencies. Commissioners would also be prevented from keeping confidential their communications about potential investigations.

During discussions over replacing JCOPE, Senator Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, called for a constitutional amendment to create a new ethics committee where most of the members would be appointed by a panel of judges. This would be an improvement over the current system, but having most judges in the state elected on the basis of party affiliation would have made this arrangement more vulnerable to the appearance of partisanship.

JCOPE is made up of 14 commissioners, six appointed by the governor and eight by the leaders of the legislature. Three West New Yorkers are members. Sharon Stern Gerstman, legal counsel at the Buffalo law firm of Magavern Magavern Grimm, was appointed by Hochul in October. David J. McNamara, associate attorney at Phillips Lytle, was appointed by then Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan, and Colleen C. DiPirro, former head of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, a was appointed by former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Hochul did not say whether the commissioners would continue to serve to some extent.


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