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State Regulator: Ethics Bill “Doomed to Fail”

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In this morning's New York Times, the state's lead ethics regulator takes aim at the ethics reform bill sponsored by our representatives in Albany, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senator Daniel Squadron. The proposal passed the Assembly earlier this year — but is languishing in the Senate. Michael Cherkasky, chair of the Commission on Integrity, tells the Times the reforms are “doomed to fail,” in part, because Albany would be policing itself.  


An early version of Squadron's bill set up a single commission to oversee the executive and legislative branches, as well as lobbyists. But Silver rejected the notion that the Legislature would give up control of its own ethics enforcement. He did agree to, as the Times put it, "some changes to the Legislative Ethics Commission, which operates
almost entirely in secret, including modest disclosure and a new investigative division controlled by legislative appointees."

Cherkasky said, “the failure to get independence for legislative oversight is disastrous.” He also called for lawmakers, who are attorneys, to reveal the names of their clients. Silver has for many years been "of counsel" at the personal injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg. His spokesman Dan Weiller, said Assembly Democrats “agree that there is a need to make changes in ethics and disclosures laws" and will deal with the issue shortly. He added, the Speaker "supports greater disclosure of details relating to outside income” but
“believes that listing his clients would not be consistent with legal
ethics.”

Good government groups have supported the legislation, saying the reforms do not go far enough but that "something is better than nothing."

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