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New York City Bar Association Applauds Governor Cuomo’s Ethics and Campaign Financing Proposal in Budget and Seeks Certain “30-Day Amendments”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Eric Friedman
(212) 382-6754

Kathryn Inman
(212) 382-6656

City Bar Applauds Governor Cuomo’s Ethics and Campaign Financing Proposal in Budget and Seeks Certain “30-Day Amendments”

New York, February 2, 2016 – In a letter to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Government Ethics applauds his initiative to submit a comprehensive ethics and campaign financing legislative package as part of his Executive Budget (the “Proposal”), while requesting certain amendments and supplements to the Proposal within the 30 day amendment and supplementation period provided for in Article VII, section 3, of the Constitution.

Among the additions requested by the City Bar are legislation to implement several key recommendations and suggestions from the Review Commission appointed by the Governor and Majority Leaders to examine the work of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (“JCOPE”) noted in its recent report. “Specifically,” states the letter, “the Review Commission recommended that JCOPE be authorized to act by majority vote and that the current provision for veto by a partisan minority be eliminated. In addition, while stopping short of making a formal recommendation to reduce the size of JCOPE, the Review Commission commented that such a reduction would present a number of advantages. Finally, we separately and respectfully suggest that, in addition to reducing the size of JCOPE and eliminating the minority veto, the law be changed to allow the Comptroller, the Attorney General and the Chief Judge each to appoint a member of the commission. If these changes are implemented, the true and nonpartisan independence of JCOPE can be assured in both reality and public perception.”

The letter makes further recommendations in the area of campaign finance. These include eliminating the ability of a political party to transfer additional $500 donations from contributors, and setting allowable contributions for Delegates to any Constitutional Convention at the higher Senate candidate level rather than at the level for Assembly candidates.

Finally, the letter urges the Governor to drop from his Proposal the regulation of campaign consultants as lobbyists irrespective of whether they are participating in an effort to secure or oppose the passage of legislation. “The deliberations on budget bills are necessarily expedited and the question of regulating campaign consultants employed by candidates for public office involves First Amendment considerations worthy of analysis and deliberation with less time pressure. We hope to comment on that component of the Proposal at a future date when such issues can be accorded appropriate attention,” the letter states.

The City Bar states that further comments on the Budget may be forthcoming and limits the letter to only those amendments sought within the 30-day period.

The letter can be read here: http://bit.ly/1nIgptr

About the Association
The New York City Bar Association, since its founding in 1870, has been dedicated to maintaining the high ethical standards of the legal profession, promoting reform of the law and access to justice, and providing service to the profession and the public. The Association, through its 24,000 members, continues to work for political, legal and social reform, while implementing innovative means to help the disadvantaged. Protecting the public’s welfare remains one of the Association’s highest priorities. www.nycbar.org